Call for Papers for NeMLA 2022 panel "Literary Form, Spirituality, and Empire in the Global 20th Century"

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

This panel seeks to explore the interrelations between spirituality, global (anti)imperial politics, and literary form and practice in the twentieth century. There has been a commonly held scholarly contention that modern literature emerged out of a crisis of faith, if not an absolute death of God. Was such a crisis of faith related to global politics in the fin de siècle and later? If yes, how? How is secularist thought related to notions and imaginaries of the globe and of the world? Where did the other-worldly and the inner-worldly meet? How are the transcendental other and the imperial other interrelated in twentieth-century world literatures? What kind of literary or formal experiments emerged out of the intersections between twentieth-century spirituality/mysticism/metaphysics and global politics? In her 2008 PMLA article “Secularism in the Framework of Heterodoxy,” Gauri Viswanathan observes that although the secularization hypothesis has been repeatedly invoked by scholars from diverse fields like political theory, anthropology, and others, the field of literary studies continues to be heavily invested in the correlation between literature and secularism. The decade since Viswanathan’s article has seen a slow rise in scholarship on literature and the post-secular. The purpose of this session is to continue that discussion and explore further the ways in which literary studies might complicate, if not outright challenge, the secularization hypothesis, and what has broadly constituted literature’s relation to religion and politics in the twentieth century.

This panel explores the interrelations between literary form and genre, spirituality, and political thinking in the global 20th century. Panelists are encouraged to consider contributing on topics related to literature's relation to secularism/post-secularism, mysticism and the occult, global spiritualities, religious nationalisms, transnationalisms, and cosmopolitanisms in the 20th century. Interdisciplinary approaches that address literary-aesthetic or formal concerns are also welcome.