Literary Dress: Fashioning the Fictional Self (due 9/30; NEMLA 4/7-4/10, New Brunswick NJ)

full name / name of organization: 
Heath Sledge and Helen Dunn/ NEMLA 2011
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Literary Dress: Fashioning the Fictional Self

Fashion, fabricate, artifice, make-up: all these terms have a double valence. Each term in noun form denotes a prosthetic application of something foreign atop something natural (usually a human body) with the intention of concealing or enhancing the natural item beneath. Each term in verb form, though, carries a connotation of constitution and creation: a sense of literal "becoming," or even investiture. In some way, these terms gesture towards the ephemeral, frivolous, and the temporary AND towards a sense of ontological making.

Scholars in anthropology, sociology, psychology, art history, and material history have all taken fashion seriously. Literary critics, though, have paid scant attention to clothes, despite novelists' deep, vivid, and abiding interest in their characters' dress. Literary scholars have been much more concerned with the noun forms of words related to fashion – the concern with falsity and authenticity - than the verb forms.

This panel seeks to analyze the ways in which fashion operates in literature, with a particular interest in the concept of "fashion" as a verb. Paper topics might include, but are not limited to: fashion as a Foucauldian technology of self; the pro-consumerist "girl-power" movement as a reaction to second-wave feminism; self-fashioning in the biography and autobiography; theories and criticism of text and fashion (Barthes, Rancière, etc.); comparative study of illustrations and the written word; notions of visualizing the ineffable, etc.. Interdisciplinary work is invited.

Please send 500 word abstracts as MSWord attachments by September 30, 2010, to Heath Sledge and Helen Dunn at Inquiries may also be sent to this address.