NeMLA Panel: Messages from the 'Front Line': War and/as Representation

deadline for submissions: 
October 10, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
NeMLA 2021
contact email: 

The battle against COVID-19 provides the latest example of war used as a metaphor. That is, it exemplifies the persistent, if not seemingly obligatory way that we deploy war as a metaphor against “enemies” such as “crime” and “drugs.” This ubiquitous practice stages metaphorical battlefields and soldiers, including hospitals and healthcare professionals, grocery stores and delivery workers. We might consider how deploying the metaphor of “war” against coronavirus reaps various costs and benefits to its figuration as such. On one hand, local to global populations are recruited to band together against disease. Personal sacrifice and national resources receive renewed attention. On the other, constructing a “front line” in the United States reveals glaring socioeconomic inequality and staging the “enemy” cements racial disparity, including xenophobic violence against Asian people and a disproportionate health impact upon African American populations.

Considering war as metaphor prompts us to re-examine how literal war similarly results in its own figuration, that is, its perpetual representation. We invite papers that reflect on visual or literary experiences from or about the “front line” of “wars” both empirical and abstract, as well as papers that question or complicate the stakes of figuring objective versus conceptual warfare. Papers may focus on representations of firsthand experience or experiences that are diffracted through those who witness the event secondhand, either “on the homefront” or at a historical or generational remove. Such (re-)framing may produce abstruse “experiences” or “memories” of trauma, catastrophe, violence, and loss. Any timeframe or geographic region may be examined, as well as any relevant “text”: a film, a photograph, poem, short story, novel, etc. How has the “front line” of “war” been represented?


Please create a user account, and submit a 300 word abstract before October 10th, 2020 through the NeMLA submission page:  

For detailed guidelines for submitting proposals you can follow this link:

NeMLA membership is not required to submit abstracts, but is required to present at the conference.

You can direct questions to Stephen Woo ( or Kayci Merritte (

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