CFP: ASA 2013: Minority Literature(s) and the Question of an Ethics of Collective Dissent

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Proposals are invited for a special session on "Minority Literature(s) and the Question of an Ethics of Collective Dissent" to be held at the American Studies Association conference in Washington DC, November 21-24. 2013.

Scholarship on minority literature has often pointed to the historico-political articulations between aesthetic/literary formations and political movements of "collective dissent" – charting the formative relations between, to cite a few examples, the Abolition movement and literary sentimentalism; Popular Front cultural politics and the genre of the Proletarian novel; Black Power/Civil Rights political consciousness and the Black Arts Movement; and Anti-Globalization movements and "World" Literature. This research has insistently pointed to the ways that the form and social function of literature has both shaped and taken shape within and against its era's political consciousness of struggle. At the same time, the meaning and ethical import of our own engagement with these literatures is often defined/circumscribed within the terms of more narrow liberal pedagogies of social justice or empiricist-idealist imaginations of political expression. Thus, seeking to differ any predetermined understanding of the ethics of minority literatures, this panel examines the role that literary/aesthetic formations can play in critically reopening the question of the "ethics of collective dissent," reimagining the terms which condition our understanding of the ethical and our imagination of the "collective" without subsuming either one to the other. Our goal is to consider how aesthetic/literary formations mediate between political imaginations of "the ethical" and the representational politics of "collectivity" – how literary culture and representation has variously enabled or foreclosed the possibilities for recognizing collective identity, oppositional action, and political consciousness in an ethical frame, and, conversely, how minority literature reimagines the terms which make and ethics of dissent legible in the first place. In this vein, the panel is interested in papers that investigate literature as an ethico-political inquiry which complicates the liberal categories and definitions of "collective dissent" which have dominated the American ethical imagination.

Please submit paper abstracts (300 words) and brief C.V.s to Christian Ravela ( by January 14, 2013