Fictions of Forgotten Families

deadline for submissions: 
September 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Modern Language Association International Symposium


Call for Papers

MLA International Symposium

Lisbon, Portugal – July 23-25, 2019


What do you imagine when you hear the word “family?” How do our traditionally nuclear imaginings of family serve to marginalize non-normative formations of family and kinship? Which iterations of family get left out of discourses of family values, are subjected to hate speech, or are somehow forgotten when the mainstream media talks about family?


The concept of family is uniquely positioned and has the potential to destabilize the common binary of public versus private; it is simultaneously a part of the private lives of individuals and the foundation upon which social values and policy decisions are built. This panel aims to examine frameworks found in cultural products that help us understand familial configurations  that are traditionally misrecognized or maligned by dominant social forces.


Examples include (but are not limited to) heteronormative partners who choose resist to engaging in the rite of marriage, im/migrant families whose lives are split across borders, LGBT families whose rights to marry and adopt are continually questioned, interracial or multilingual/multicultural couples, and interfaith families.


We invite papers that engage the topic of “forgotten families” across cultural products. Papers that combine any topic of controversy in the politics of family within cultural studies are welcome. The following is a partial list of possible topics:

-      Marriage, divorce, partnership

-      Childbearing and rearing, especially as these relate to other forms of labor

-       LGBT families and/or the notion of “choosing family”

-      Adoption, surrogacy, and child fostering

-      Inter- or multi- racial, religious, lingual, or ethnic families

-      Familial estrangement, feuds, or disagreements

-      Refugee or im/migrant family struggles

-      Interfaith families or the role of religion in family-making

-      Visual or digital representation of familial experiences


To receive full-consideration, please submit a 300-word abstract and short author/scholar bio to no later than September 1st, 2018. Interested parties will be informed of the status of their submission no later than September 15th.


Please see for additional information on the symposium or for more about the 2019 theme.