Publicly Private: Cities, Literature, and the Social Contract

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

This panel is part of the NeMLA 2016 Annual Convention, to be held in Hartford, Connecticut, from March 17 to March 20, 2016. The focus is the ways eighteenth- and nineteenth-century urban development altered previous modes of socialization and led to a pervasive undercurrent of urban-based anxieties within literature of the period. Panelists will examine literature that engages with the ways cities and life in cities reduce private space and force people together into public spaces, requiring some level of engagement with the social contract as they interact with their fellow urbanites. Such interactions involve questions of identity and dis/honesty, and a character's ability to read his/her fellow citizens successfully. This session might address such topics of the intersection of public and private (including how private concerns can become public concerns), the representation of urban communities, the city as a character, the (new) relation of the country to the city, and urban life and social/political activism.

Submit abstracts (300 words maximum) by September 30, 2015 to session #15906 at