The Carmen Maria Machado Moment and the Latinx Literary Present

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

Carmen Maria Machado's short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties (2017), was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize and Shirley Jackson Award, and the finalist for the National Book Award and PEN/Robert W. Brigham Prize for Debut Fiction. Received to great acclaim, Her Body and Other Parties provocatively navigates between eerie and moving narratives that toy between science fiction, speculative fiction, horror, and fan fiction to underscore the various violences inflicted on women's bodies. This seminar focuses exclusively on Machado's work, foregrounding the important intervention her collection makes, not only to this array of literary genres, but also to current discussions of identity, collectivity, and power in Latinx literary studies. In brief, formal presentations, participants of the session will respond to other participants' papers, focusing on how Machado's work challenges settled logics in the fields of race, ethnic, and Latinx studies, feminist, queer, and trans studies, disability studies, genre studies, literary studies, as well as their intersection(s). These preliminary, formal exchanges will then launch a broader discussion among panelists about the significance and implications of Machado's work. We will conclude by opening up the discussion to the audience.

This seminar features scholars in ethnic, gender, queer, and genre studies exploring the impact of fiction writer Carmen Maria Machado's award-winning 2017 collection, Her Body and Other Parties, on their scholarly fields and the critical spaces where they intersect. Panelists' presentations and responses will focus in part on how Machado's innovative storyworlds and characterizations challenge us to think about how the historical event of the Latina/o Studies field's renaming of itself as Latinx Studies shifts the ontological and epistemological grounds on which it can claim to constitute, and to "know," this renamed latinidad. Panelists' exchanges will also set the stage and open space for contributions from the audience, as we grapple with the uncanny coincidence of such very new work appearing just as the intellectual space for its critical capture starts to speak a new language.