ACLA seminar: South Asian Disasters in 20th and 21st Century Literature, Film, and Culture

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

South Asian Disasters in 20th and 21st Century Literature, Film, and Culture: 

a seminar at the American Comparative Literature Association meeting on April 8-11, 2021.

Co-organized by Liam O'Loughlin (Capital University) and Pallavi Rastogi (Louisiana State University)

What is a South Asian disaster? How is it represented in contemporary literature, film, and culture? Since very little agreement exists between scholars on the exact definition of disaster, we seek to frame disaster within academic and interdisciplinary debates on the term. We depart from dominant Eurocentric and often individualist interpretive models in cultural studies; and instead foreground collective, but differentiated, experience of catastrophe. Proposals should respond to some of the these interrogatives:


· What are some common themes and tropes emerging in South Asian disaster representations?
· How do disaster make visible different iterations of South Asia?
· What role can literature and culture play in disaster planning, management, and reconstruction?


· What literary forms, including digital genres, are most organic to disaster narration?
· What are the more surprising forms in which disaster can be narrated?
· How does the political project of narrating disaster intersect with the formal qualities of disaster narration?


· What are some of the ethical dilemmas in narrating disaster, especially the suffering of people viewed through the stereotypes of Western colonialism? 
· Why do some events become nationally defining disasters while others are forgotten in the literary and cultural imagination?
· How might a focus on disaster revive or reframe core debates within related fields like postcolonial studies?