Queer Utopias: Decolonizing Utopianism in Contemporary Literary Studies (Panel)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA 2021)

José Esteban Muñoz’s ground-breaking work Cruising Utopia has sought to unite scholarship from the disparate fields of queer and utopian studies by contending that “queerness is primarily about futurity and hope” and “queerness is always on the horizon” (Muñoz 11). Aside from this, it has also powerfully contested the academic pessimism toward utopian political idealism that was becoming a dominant feature in queer theory at this time. Drawing on Muñoz’s work, this panel invites paper abstracts about queer utopias and queer utopian possibility demonstrated in literatures of the 20th and 21st centuries. We are interested in the possibilities of queer utopias, imagined or realized, as a means of engaging space, agency, and the stakes of the future for marginalized individuals.

We draw on Judith Butler’s definition of “queer” from Bodies that Matter in which she proposes the term retain its political vibrancy by remaining “that which is, in the present, never fully owned, but always and only redeployed, twisted, queered from a prior usage and in the direction of urgent and expanding political purposes” (Butler 228). Our view of “queer utopias” opens up this discussion to not only include the possibility of queer utopian political formations from the perspectives of queer individuals but also those whose existence is “queered” by their affiliation to a marginalized social group by virtue of their race, class, religion, caste, gender, disability and so on. We are also interested in topics that probe utopianism’s relationship to postcolonial studies with a particular emphasis on anti-colonial discourses. We invite paper abstracts (and 100-word bios) on topics that might include but are not limited to:

Queerness of space and time

Queer utopian impulse in postcolonial/Anglophone literatures

Refugee narratives queering the idea of a utopian national community

Queer utopias as political critique


Please send 250-word abstracts and 100-word bios to https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/18663. Please direct your inquiries to either of the co-chairs -

1)Samadrita Kuiti (samadrita.kuiti@uconn.edu)

2)Julia Brush (julia.brush@uconn.edu)