Representation of Human Rights in 21st-century Literature

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 

51st Northeast Modern Language Association Convention

March 5-8, 2020

Boston, MA

Despite the major effects of the UN’s “Declaration of Human Rights” on the global environment, the writing of and the implementation of rights do not guarantee protection of those rights. Instead, the 21st century led to a growth of human rights violations across the world. To quote Joseph Slaughter: if it can be called the “age of human rights” it is also the “age of human rights violations” (6). This polarized perception has only led to a growth of works that overtly engage the reader/viewer/player with both of the notions of rights and how the violations affect the individual and the community, yet it is the imagining of rights which become an important component of social justice and, at times, can be more redemptive than the enforcement of law because it emphasizes what it means to be human. 

In addition, the growth of technology also gave way to a new way of imagining our rights both in function and form. This panel invites papers that engage with the imagining and interpretation of human rights in 21st-century literature, with a preference toward a multi-genre approach including digital literatures. Lastly, it also seeks papers that question the role of the human in the conception of rights: What does it mean to be human and what does it mean to be non-human?

Work Cited

Slaughter, Joseph R. Human Rights, Inc.: the World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law. Fordham Univ. Press, 2009.

Please submit a 300 word abstract and short bio before September 30th through the NeMLA submission page: 

If you have any questions please contact, Ann Reading at