Dystopia and Race in Contemporary American Literature

full name / name of organization: 
MLA 2016 (1/7/2016 - 1/10/2016) - Austin, TX

There has been a striking turn towards the dystopic in contemporary American literature, often related to racial anxieties. In Native Speaker (1995), for instance, Chang-rae Lee describes an assembly of protestors outside of a Korean-American politician's house, demanding their "future back" (Lee 332). Similarly, in Almanac of the Dead (1990), Leslie Marmon Silko introduces us to men obsessed with racial purity in light of what they view as the process of "[b]rown people [inheriting] the earth like cockroaches" (Silko 561). This panel explores how racial tensions inform literary renderings of the future. How is racial anxiety related to other features of dystopic literature, such as class divisions, environmental injustices, and questions about biopolitics/biosociality? Moreover, what should we as readers and scholars make of this recent trend towards the dystopic, in general?

Individual proposals should be no more than 200 words and sent to Francisco.Delgado@stonybrook.edu by March 15, 2015. All submissions should include the full name, institutional affiliation, and contact information for each participant.

This panel is sponsored by College English Association.