Can Novels Do Theory: Methods in Modern South Asian Fiction (NEMLA 2022)

deadline for submissions: 
September 29, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Nemla 2022, Baltimore
contact email: 

My colleague Sharanya Dutta and I are proposing a panel for the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)’s annual conference in 2022 (March 10-13, Baltimore) on the work of theory that South Asian novels can do. You will NOT need to pay a registration fee or become a member to apply but you WILL need to make an account to log in. Please submit your abstract through the NeMLA portal in order to be considered. We are pasting the link below. The NeMLA website contains a short description, but the complete panel proposal is:


Can Novels Do Theory: Methods in Modern South Asian Fiction


This panel asks a specific question to scholars of South Asian literature: what is the relationship between modern fiction and literary theory? Historically, modern literary theory has been located primarily in the Anglophone academy and the West, whose inclusion of South Asian literatures was at best tokenistic. This unidirectional gaze has been thoroughly destabilized by scholars of postcolonial and decolonial theory over the last three decades, which has paved the way for greater inclusion of South Asian fiction in the Western academy. What kind of South Asian fiction is accepted into the oeuvre, and how is this influenced by varying identity politics? In this context, can some South Asian novels be seen to perform the work of literary theory? Rushdie’s reinvention of a South Asian magic realism in Midnight’s Children, Ghosh’s fictionalization of tales from postcolonial anthropology in In an Antique Land, Arundhati Roy’s queer transnationalism in her genre-blurring novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Sara Suleri’s refusal of straightforward affect theory in her memoir--all these works of modern fiction, composed by author-scholars, self-consciously intervene in and transform contemporary literary theory. Going beyond categorizations of Global Anglophone and World Literature, we ask if works of modern South Asian fiction have reoriented theory from the point of view of the global south. We invite papers which explore how the modern South Asian novel embodies the work of literary theory in both its form and content. Proposals on both Anglophone and translated novels from South Asia are welcome.


DEADLINE for abstract submission: September 29th, 2021 (9 am EST)

For any questions feel free to write to either or both of us: 

Sharanya Dutta (

Supurna Dasgupta (



Search for our panel (Can Novels Do Theory: Methods in Modern South Asian Fiction) by keyword and it will show up. (For us, the organizers, it shows up at this link: Once you find the panel, please hit submit abstract and the link will ask you to either sign in or create an account.