Care for Others, Care for Ourselves: The Power and Limits of Literature and Art (NeMLA 2022)
“Where does literature intersect with life - with lives - how can we contribute to an increment of justice in the world?” – Dame Marina Warner, 2001
Literature and art can prompt us to care for one another across space, time, and culture. They can challenge social structures that underpin injustices. Yet they can also represent trauma and injustice in ways that undermine care by spectacularizing, universalizing, or appropriating lived experiences. Conventions of writing, reading, and marketing can limit what stories are heard and read as worthy of care.
This session asks how literature and art that respond to injustice or trauma can enact care, and for whom: Care for victims and survivors? Care for storytellers and artists? Care for readers? Care for experiences? We are particularly interested in the relationships between form, narrative conventions, and care.
- Is it possible to promote care for lives and experiences in their singularity while remaining inside distinct genre boundaries?
- Is care antithetical to power structures that produce genre conventions?
- How does discomfort contribute to – or detract from – care? In what ways can texts promote forms of discomfort that push readers to expand our caring?
- How do the forms of narrative witnessing and/or conventions of testimony care for – or fail to care for – people subjected to human rights violations?
This seminar contributes to the convention theme and builds on successful seminars from the past two years about the roles played by genres, narrative conventions, and traditional and innovative literary forms in bearing witness to trauma and injustice. It explores the power of the humanities to help us understand one another’s lives and worlds and the ethical calls they make.
This is a seminar session for NeMLA 2022 (March 10-13, Baltimore, Maryland). Papers on all genres, media, and geographical contexts welcome. Please submit 200-word abstract and bio to Kelly Minerva and Lisa Propst via the NeMLA website: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla