Memory and Violence in Iberian Literatures and Cultures (April 7-11, 2010)

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41st Anniversary Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) / Hilton Bonaventure – Montreal, Quebec
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Call for Papers

Memory and Violence in Iberian Literatures and Cultures

41st Anniversary Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-11, 2010
Hilton Bonaventure – Montreal, Quebec

Memory matters. It is crucial to some of the fields of scholarly inquiry that have been most prominent in recent years: the study of nationalism, questions of ethnic identity and the politics of recognition, in which groups are given recognition not least for the past experience of exclusion and suffering. Moreover, there have been numerous studies of cultural memory as expressed in monuments, memorials, works of art, and school textbooks.

In her study On Violence, Hannah Arendt explores the balance between institutional power structures and violence. Arendt writes that it is "a rather sad reflection on the present state of political science that our terminology does not distinguish among such key words as power, strength, force, authority, and finally, violence—all of which refer to distinct, different phenomena and would hardly exist unless they did." She affirms that violence is distinguished by its instrumental character. Violence can always destroy power.

Violence has always been an important element of literatures and cultures. Contemporary literature defines itself by reflecting the violence of modern society from individual crimes to large-scale warfare. By the close of the twentieth century, images of violence in all forms in literature and cinema have become so commonplace that violence has become a subject that writers address aesthetically, historically, or psychologically.

This session seeks to make us think about the relationship between memory and violence in Iberian literatures and cultures: How does literature define itself by reflecting violence? What representations of violence can be found in Iberian literatures and cultures? How do Iberian literatures represent violence? Are their representations of violence clearly fictional or nearly indistinguishable from reality? How is literary violence used as a metaphor for relationships of power and domination? How do memory and violence relate to politics? How does the relationship between violence and politics conceptualize memory itself as a kind of symbolic power and influence the present construction and legitimization of politics? How do nationalist movements participate in the construction of memory and representations of violence? How does memory appear in the construction of collective memories and subjectivities through literature and cinema? Is there an ethics of memory and of the representation of violence?

Please send 250-500 word abstracts by September 30, 2009 to Alfredo J. Sosa-Velasco ( Include with your abstract: Name and affiliation, e-mail address, postal address, telephone number, A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee).

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA panel; however panelists can only present one paper. Convention participants may present a paper at a panel or seminar and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.

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