"Southern States of Insecurity: The South During Crises" - SSSL at MLA 2018

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Katharine A. Burnett, Fisk University
contact email: 

The U.S. South is often the site and focal point for many of the definitive crises that have characterized American history and culture. Whether it is a widespread national crisis like the Civil War, or a more localized natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, the South’s history and culture has been consistently marked by moments of upheaval and intensified chaos. Just as consistently, works of literature take up these crisis moments as topics in order to depict both the immediate and reverberating effects of crisis and disaster.


This proposed panel takes up the question: how does literature respond to and represent these moments? In what ways can literature and artistic representation be seen as a coping mechanism? What do people read and turn to during crises? Taking a broad approach to an understanding of “crisis,” papers could discuss a wide range of topics, including political crises; the Civil War and the major wars in American history; financial crises such as the Bank Panic of 1837, the Great Depression, or the 2008 financial crisis; general economic decline in the U.S. South in recent years, especially in rural areas; natural disasters like the flood of 1927 or Hurricane Katrina; more un-natural disasters such as the effects of climate change or the recent Gatlinburg fires in East Tennessee; or even major health crises such as the cholera and yellow fever outbreaks during the 19th century, or the rise of opioid addiction in southern areas.


By March 15, 2017 please submit 250-word abstracts along with A/V requirements and a short, 100-word bio to Katie Burnett, Fisk University (kburnett@fisk.edu) and Monica Miller, Georgia Tech (monica.miller@lmc.gatech.edu). All panel participants must be MLA members before April 1, 2017.


This proposed panel is sponsored by the Allied Organization of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature at MLA.