REMINDER: Geniuses, Addicts, and Scribbling Women: Depicting Writers in Literature & Film (NeMLA 2018)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Cynthia Cravens
contact email: 

Gendered representations of writers appear in all forms of popular culture, from George Gissing’s Grub Street (1898) and Edith Wharton’s Hudson River Bracketed (1929) to David Duchovney’s character in the Showtime series Californication and Melissa McCarthy’s in CBS’s Mike and Molly. Although they each portray aspects of the writing life that were characteristic of their eras, one thing they have in common (besides the fact that a writer wrote them) is that they all exhibit some kind of peculiarity, be it sex addiction, writer’s block, delusions of grandeur, fevered brilliance, etc., that either adds to or detracts from their writing.

While the influence of books and movies on culture is a widely studied phenomenon, not much attention has been focused on the influence of representations within those books and movies. When actress Taraji P. Henson said of her character in Hidden Figures that she wished she had known about her during her own childhood so she could have done better in math, it raised the question of visibility. Now STEM fields are actively trying to make visible the inclusion of women in order to encourage girls to pursue those careers.

This panel seeks papers that vigorously examine “the push toward visibility” of writers and/or the writing life, particularly in terms of gender and/or gender performance and its intersection with creativity. To what extent can we contextualize depictions of writers (fictional or real) that exist in popular culture? In what ways are those depictions dependent upon gender and/or gender performance in traditional, subversive, or innovative ways? And what about the real writer behind the depictions? What can we say about the relationship between the real and the mimetic?

All approaches, interpretations, and time periods are welcome. Please submit a 250-word proposal through the NeMLA submission system. The link is

Proposals are due by Sept 30, 2017. Participants will be notified by October 15.

The Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) conference will be held in Pittsburgh, PA, April 12-15, 2018.