Emergent Theories of Life Writing, March 15-18, 2012 (Deadline: Sept. 30, 2011)

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Call for Papers

43nd Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
March 15-18, 2012
Rochester, New York – Hyatt Rochester
Host Institution: St. John Fisher College
Keynote speaker: Jennifer Egan, 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Panel Name: "Emergent Theories of Life Writing"

Autobiography, memoir, and related forms of life writing have long been losing their status as second-class members of the literary canon and as more and more women and other marginalized voices are being heard via these forms, it becomes incumbent upon serious literary theorists to craft coherent and cohesive theories of life narratives.

The second edition of Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson's 'Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives' came out in 2010 and describes the state of life writing theory as it stands right now. The nuanced distinctions they tease out among the multiple genres of life writing (They identify 60 genres!) emphasize the term "autobiography" as an "umbrella concept rather than a single genre" (218). They identify emergent areas of enquiry which they predict will engender much further discussion at the intersection between life writing and theories of trauma, disability, human rights, neuroscience, cognitive studies, and genomics (218-225).

Critics of life writing now have a larger range of emergent theories on which to lean while writing about life narratives. As these theories emerge, more recent life narratives are better understood and older classic life narratives are re-evaluated and given the depth of study they might not have been given upon their publication.

This panel invites papers which deal with any aspect of life writing in a theoretical way, especially in these emergent areas of enquiry. Send 250-word abstracts to Kathryn Kleypas at Kkleypas@auk.edu.kw.

Deadline: September 30, 2011
Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee with registration)

The 43rd annual convention will be held March 15-18th in Rochester, New York at the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown, located minutes away from convenient air, bus, and train transportation options for attendees. St. John Fisher College will serve as the host college, and the diverse array of area institutions are coordinating with conference organizers to sponsor various activities, such as celebrated keynote speakers, local events, and fiction readings.

Building upon the excellence of past NeMLA conferences, the association continues to grow as a vibrant community of scholars, thanks to the wide array of intellectual and cultural opportunities at every venue. Compact yet diverse, Rochester also boasts important historical connections; it is the site of the home, publication operations, and orations of Frederick Douglass, where he edited the North Star, as well as his eponymous periodical, and delivered the speech, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?". Visitors can explore the houses of abolitionist, suffragette, and reformer Susan B. Anthony and the inventor of devices popularizing photography, George Eastman, as well as shopping and eateries; attendees will also be within reach of the beautiful Finger Lakes region, known for its local wineries.

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. http://www.nemla.org/convention/2012/cfp.html