Diversity in/and/or the Arts

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Proposals invited on any aspect related to the topic described below:

Diversity, which in the US and UK had initially been associated with and largely confined to the areas of employment and college admissions, has recently taken center stage, most dramatically with the seating of the US House of Representatives on 2 January and the Golden Globes film awards 4 days later. Despite the gains, diversity remains a contentious issue even in an area associated with progressivism: the arts in general and literature in particular. Case in point: Lionel Shriver’s article in the 9 June 2018 issue of The Spectator in which the US novelist attacked Penguin Random House UK’s newly announced diversity statement. A policy many would find laudable Shriver found reprehensible, as her opening salvo makes clear: ‘I’d been suffering under the misguided illusion that the purpose of mainstream publishers like Penguin Random House was to sell and promote fine writing.’ That her defense of art as existing apart from the politics of diversity coincided with the attacks on diversity exemplified by Brexit and Trump’s border wall makes it all the more important to examine the basis of her assumptions about ‘Art’ and her defense of the literary novel’s autonomy and literary ‘talent’ as self-evident. Is diversity the enemy of art as critics like Shriver contend? Or is diversity a means to a broader understanding of literary value and how it is determined?

Submit your proposal here: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/login; panel session number: 18179

Robert Morace (rmorace@daemen.edu), Professor of English, Daemen College, Amherst NY 14226

Deadline for submitting an abstract: 30 September 2019

The 51st Northeast MLA Conference, Boston, MA, 5-8 March 2020