Motherhood in American Literature (NeMLA 2022)

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

NeMLA Annual Convention - Baltimore, MD - 10-13 March, 2022


How does one resist the systems of subjugation that prey on the marginalized and seek to dissolve and consume them within this white supremacist capitalist imperialist patriarchy? While for some resistance takes the form of confrontation and battle, for Black feminist thinkers like bell hooks and Audre Lorde, resistance comes in the form of the practice of love. It is in the embrace of the erotic, of initiating the quest of mutual self-fulfillment, in seeking value in the relationships we have with each other, that we resist. In other words, for hooks and Lorde, we resist through care.


hooks, who has dedicated much of her writing to this practice of care, dedicated one of her most well-known texts, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, to her mother, using her picture for the cover of the 2015 edition. As hooks reflects on the feminist movement, she says that no day passes without her thinking about what her mother and women like her offered their children, “blueprints for liberation” (11). What is the role of mothers in the praxis of care/love? To what extent is the mother-figure a central in social and political resistance? In this session, we will explore how authors construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct mothers and the significance of those gestures for the social, cultural, and political implications of their writing.


This roundtable seeks short papers that will, in some capacity, address the above inquiry and open the floor for an invigorating dialogue on the role of motherhood and mothers in our literature and lives. Some potential questions to consider would be:


· What is motherhood? What is a mother? As we move more and more away from gender essentialism, to what extent are these labels accurate, useful, or necessary?

· How is motherhood configured differently across temporal, racial, national, ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, sexual, and other lines?

· How are mothers represented and troped in literature, media, and popular culture? How is the maternal theorized?

· To what extent are mothers central or peripheral for identity formation, both for the individual and the collective?

· How are mothers memorialized?


These are just some of the issues we will attempt to cover. All submissions should include an abstract and a short author bio and be submitted through the NeMLA portal. Submissions that engage with minority and marginalized literatures, authors, theories, and/or texts are particularly encouraged.


Please send your submissions through this link by September 30th, 2021: