The Write Kind of Change: Literature as Social Activism

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

Vladimir Nabokov once suggested that any form of reading which pays heightened attention to the socio-political realities of our world, rather than paying exclusive attention to the use of literary devices present in a given text, constitutes a form of “bad reading.” In her 2017 book Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America, Merve Emre works to reclaim this form of bad reading, arguing that these so-called bad readers are “literate subjects [who use] reading to navigate a political climate that champion[s] liberal individualism, on the one hand, while establishing unprecedented forms of institutional oversight, on the other” (5). This panel seeks papers which, similar to Emre, situate the literary within a framework of political action. Rather than suggesting that the political life of literature is solely dependent upon the reader, however, this panel seeks papers whose presupposition is that the very production of literature itself is a political endeavour, motivated by a desire for social change.