Negotiating History, Memory, and Trauma in New South African Literature, NeMLA Montreal 4/7/10-4/11/10; Deadline 9/30/09

full name / name of organization: 
Amanda Carr/University of Massachusetts, Amherst
contact email: 

Call for Papers

Negotiating History, Memory, and Trauma in New South African Literature

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

Fifteen years since the annulment of Apartheid legislation and the adoption of one of the most liberally conceived constitutions in the world, South Africa continues to be haunted by legacies from its past. While much social and political progress has been made, the ghosts of that era remain, returning to us in the fiction, poetry, and autobiographies of those who lived through, opposed, and enacted such wide-scale repression. Residual resentments and prejudices, solidified by life under Apartheid, persist. Yet, these wounds are healing, and literature serves a pivotal role in the reconciliation process. As trauma theorists have noted, literary texts are perhaps unique as cultural artifacts in their ability to communicate traumatic experience that is not usually socially validated. Literary texts also straddle the boundary between public and private, and depictions of personal struggle are often metaphoric for larger social conflict, and vice versa. The individual's experience of trauma is at once individuated and collectivized as the text becomes the purveyor of the cultural collective memory. How are South African history and its legacy explored, explained, and reconciled in contemporary South African literature? What new forms are created? What old forms re-made? How do texts negotiate individual and collective experience? What are the limits or potentialities of cultural memory? Does literature also offer a way to imagine the future? This panel will welcome papers that engage with themes of history, memory, public and private experience, and how these concepts are addressed in South African literature, including poetry, fiction, essay, and autobiography. Please send 300-500 word abstract to Amanda Carr (

Deadline: September 30, 2009

Please include with your abstract:

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The 41st Annual Convention will feature approximately 350 sessions, as well as dynamic speakers and cultural events. Details and the complete Call for Papers for the 2010 Convention will be posted in June:

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

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