Desire and the Erotics of Introspection (NeMLA 2022)

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

Desire and the Erotics of Introspection

From the ancient Greek concept of eros to Freudian psychoanalysis and aesthetic theory, desire has been for centuries central to discourse and literature. This panel investigates the motivation behind desire’s inward turn toward the self. Introspection, self-examination and the precise analysis of one’s own motivations are frequently undertaken with a goal of self-knowledge that proves both elusive and surprising for those who seek it. On the one hand, since knowledge of the self often eludes those who search for it, the desire for introspection abides, the search within the self for an account of one’s experience becoming an exciting, almost erotic experience. In addition, the look within that solidifies unexpectedly little self-understanding can nevertheless serve as a bridge to know others beyond the self, including the other within. The erotics of introspection then not only dismantles the notion of a stable self that can be known, but also strips away the boundaries between self and other, reason and emotion, appearance and being. Thus in the erotics of introspection the pursuit of an apparently elusive goal may in fact be a source of great satisfaction.

We invite papers from across disciplines and any time period that explore the relationship between desire and introspection in literature, philosophy, art, theory, film, television, and society. Possible questions this panel will address include, but are not limited to:

- How can an erotic or libidinal force motivate introspection?

- Do the erotics of introspection permit a means to know others or only oneself?

- In what ways do the erotics of introspection play a role in composition of a literary work or work of art?

- How are the erotics of introspection an element in contemporary cultural productions in the age of serial television and the Internet?

- What are the consequences of the erotics of introspection in aesthetic, social or ethical terms?

- How can the erotics of introspection figure into political landscapes in our current time or prior? Works by Audre Lorde, Laura Perez, & Paul Ludwig suggest possible answers.

- In what ways can we conceive of the erotics of introspection in periods before to the advent of psychoanalysis, such as in antiquity or in early modernity? Similarly, can we think of the erotics of introspection from a global perspective, anchored in cities across the planet?


This is a seminar session for Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)’s annual conference in 2022 (March 10-13, Baltimore, Maryland).Please submit your 250-300 words abstract through the NeMLA portal:

All abstracts are due by September 30, 2021. If you have any questions, feel free to contact either or both of us: 

Andrés Orejuela (

Hai In Jo (