#MeToo and Contemporary Literary Studies (NeMLA panel)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Mary K. Holland and Heather Hewett, SUNY New Paltz
contact email: 

#MeToo and Contemporary Literary Studies: panel accepted for the 2022 NeMLA conference (March 10-13, 2022; Baltimore, MD)

While feminist literary scholars have been examining the relationship between literature and rape for decades, the #MeToo movement has reenergized this work. Building on recent scholarship (Serisier 2018; Field 2020; Holland and Hewett 2021), and along with forthcoming work (Gilmore; Hobbs), this panel considers the range of critical frameworks with which literary critics are addressing gender, identity, violence, and power. Reassessing these aspects of experience and representation in light of this movement calls for a rethinking of the critical practices we use to produce scholarship and theory about literature and culture, and requires rereadings of literature and authors whose participation in or critique of rape culture has yet to be made visible, or whose work can be revisited to shed light on the current moment.

The panel is particularly interested in transnational, transcultural, and intersectional approaches that attend to genre and genre-blurring; publication and reception; rape culture outside and inside academia; the interconnections between written literature and social media; narratives about sexual violence, racism, and colonialism authored by BIPOC authors; queer violence and survivorship; and the recent outpouring of published literature, particularly memoir and lifewriting, about sexual violence, testimony, trauma, and healing. Most broadly, this panel will ask how current theoretical and critical approaches are positioned in the long history of literary activism against sexual violence, and what role literature and literary studies can play in the project of ending sexual violence and rape culture.

More specific topics include (but are not limited to) the following:


  • Rethinking critical practices in light of #MeToo.
    • Ways in which intersectional analyses of #MeToo narratives might provide another context for interpreting creative work, particularly texts that explore bodily violence, trauma, and survivorship;
    • How #MeToo, and social media more broadly, interacts with traditionally published life narratives and changes the possibilities of creating, sharing, and using personal narratives;
    • Ways in which sexual politics in the university or publishing world inhibit critical work that unmasks misogyny and sexual abuse;
    • Ways in which critics might silence themselves when writing about misogynistic texts or texts that support rape culture;
    • Implications of authorial accusations of sexual abuse for critical readings of authors’ work (eg, Junot Diaz, Sherman Alexie).


  • Feminist rereadings of authors or specific texts whose misogyny, rape culture, and/or scenes of sexual harassment, abuse, or rape have yet to be identified and critiqued by critics.
    • Reconsiderations of canonical authors whose sexual politics have so far escaped scrutiny (eg, Coetzee, Updike; this list may include female authors);
    • Readings of lesser known texts that critique rape culture in effective ways;
    • How young adult literature treats sexual assault and rape culture (Erik Cleveland and Sybil Durand published on this topic in 2014);
    • How sexual assault is normalized even in otherwise female-empowering literature, film, or TV;
    • How depictions of sexual assault and rape culture in contemporary texts differ from those in earlier texts, because of changes in the law, cultural changes, political movements, etc;
    • Texts that draw parallels with the current political and social climate of backlash against women’s rights.


Please submit your abstract using the NeMLA conference portal: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/19291