Monstrous Machines, Queer Bodies & Haunted Technocultures in the American South

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Elizabeth Finnegan, NeMLA 2022 Panel
contact email: 

Despite persistent conceptions of the American South as pastoral, Modern and Postmodern Southern literatures have just as persistently grappled with the significance of modernity, consumerism, and technology. David A. Davis demonstrates how Southern modernism emerged from the disruptions that modernity introduced into the region by World War I. Rapid technological change can transform our connections to our own bodies and to others; and these transformations have profoundly animated Southern literatures. Technoculture—the technologically mediated world of our experiences—broadly includes technologies from alphabets to photography, cinema, railroads, automobiles, dams and bridges, space travel, telegraphy, advertising, print media, digital media, online culture, cyberspaces, cybernetics, etc. Phillip Vannini argues, however, that technoculture resides in “old docks, in toy stores, in the hobbyist’s toolbox, and in the refrigerator as much as it resides in the cathodes of an electronic tube or in the chips of a personal computer.” Theories of technoculture have ranged from Marshall McLuhan’s famous claim that technology is “the most human thing about us” to Neil Postman’s urgent warning that“culture always pays a price for technology.” While much significant work has begun in these areas, many compelling gaps remain. We invite papers focusing on how 19th and 20th century Southern writers have represented, imagined, resisted, rejected, or fantasized technologies of all or any kinds. Papers may, but do not need to, explore questions such as:

  • How have Southern writers represented the relationship between technology and the human body?
  • (How) have Southern writers imagined technologies as queer?
  • What happens to Southern notions of place and regionality in virtual worlds where humans might exist as disembodied subjects?
  • How have Southern writers represented technology’s capacity to disrupt normative categories, such as race, gender, dis/ability, sexuality, age, etc.?
  • How have Southern authors represented the dystopic potential of technology to discipline and commodify bodies?

Please make sure to submit your abstracts to the NeMLA portal at their website<:http://www.buffalo.edu/nemla.html>

Feel free to contact Eli Finnegan with any questions about the panel or your papers.