NeMLA 2021 Panel - From the Page to the Streets: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Urban Literature

deadline for submissions: 
October 11, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Eleanor Rambo / NeMLA
contact email: 

Northeast Modern Language Association 2021 (Panel) - Virtual Conference, March 11 - 14, 2021
Updated Submission Deadline - Abstracts due by October 11th

Throughout the last century, cities worldwide have endured various crises, each of them reflected in literature and popular culture. Suburbanization, rapid globalization, regime change, and gentrification have altered many cities beyond recognition, but no social force has yet destroyed them entirely. The papers on this NeMLA panel will take an interdisciplinary or comparative approach to understanding the relationship between cities and change. Moreover, the panel itself presents an opportunity to think across disciplinary boundaries. How do different literary traditions represent urban life, and what can critics learn from this comparison? What can urban planners teach writers, and vice versa? Can literature subvert the cultural forces that shape cities?

Analyzing writing about both real and fictional cities is critical to this conversation, especially since literature often blurs the boundary between these categories. By considering urban literature from new perspectives, writers, critics, and readers will be better equipped to understand the world’s rapidly changing urban landscapes. Cities and their inhabitants face urgent challenges, which can be difficult to grasp due to each neighborhood’s quirks and the lightning speed of modern urban development. Taking a closer look at cities fixed on the page can offer a chance to understand both urban literature and our own rapidly-evolving surroundings.

Potential topics and disciplines:

  • Urban literature
  • History of modern cities
  • Urban studies
  • Interaction between literature and sociology/history/urban studies
  • Interdisciplinary studies of cities
  • Gentrification and Displacement
  • COVID-19 in cities

Please apply through the NeMLA portal, which will prompt you to create an account:

Abstracts of ~250 words should be submitted here: