The Ancient and Modern Traditions of Introspective Analysis

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

In a letter to Lucilius, Seneca distinguishes between a person's being and "the trappings in which he is clothed," urging his interlocutor to "consider [the] soul" in order to distinguish true being from false appearance. In addition to the distinction he makes between being and appearance, Seneca indicates here an analytical tool by which Lucilius can learn to see beyond illusory appearances in order to comprehend the true nature of things (animum intuere). Seneca's instrumental approach to this analysis constitutes a major component of the Ancient tradition of introspective analysis: across genres ancient authors such as Virgil, Propertius, Martial, Horace, Tacitus, Plato, and Aristotle performed similar analyses. This tradition was further developed under Christian influence in Augustine's Confessions, Dante's Divine Comedy, Michel de Montaigne's Essays, Baltasar Gracián's Art of Wordly Wisdom, and Blaise Pascal's Thoughts. This concern with introspection, self-examination, and duplicitous, often misguided, and hidden motivations of people persists in modern novels such as Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and Juan Goytisolo's Count Julian. We welcome papers that examine any aspect of the Ancient and Modern traditions of introspective analysis across any historical, national, and linguistic contexts, including, but not limited to, papers on drama, novels, and maxims that address the following questions:  

-- How do particular genres lend themselves to forms of introspective analysis? Are the genres themselves subject to self-analysis?

--What narrative devices are common when performing introspective analysis in literature? How do dreams, monologues, and maxims figure into greater narrative structures?

--What role do the passions play in producing, complicating, or stifling the process of introspective analysis?

--Does critical theory in any form contribute to our understanding of introspective analysis within literature? How does reader response or psychoanalytic criticism interact with literary introspective analyses?

--Of particular interest are papers on the Joseph story in Genesis, Cervantes' dreams-within-dreams, and Shakespeare's plays, in addition to those on the works cited above. 

Submissions are welcome in English from a broad range of disciplines.

Please submit proposals of 250-300 words through the NeMLA submission portal:

The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2020.

NeMLA has secured a hybrid/virtual format for 2021, so virtual participation is possible. The official venue and dates are: Philadelphia, March 11-14, 2021.

Review the guidelines for submission here:

Please direct any questions to the panel organizers, Andrés Orejuela and Elias Theodoracopoulos, at and