Mapping Literary Shifts in Twenty-First Century Women’s Literature: A Response to the Future of the Past

deadline for submissions: 
May 20, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Midwest Modern language Association
contact email: 

Taking into account the presidential theme for MMLA, 2022--“Post-Now”--, it is important to foreground the constituency of 'now', and what its discursive urgency means for this panel. While 'now' can be ontologically considered as the transient nature of the present moment in time, which is relative in nature (Einstein 14), its association to time can also be extended to understand the persistence of circumstances and ideas as situated in the present age, or the contemporary times (Dubreuil 44). Laurent Dubreuil links literature to temporality, mentioning how “literature does not exist before but rather after itself: we reconstruct and designate it without exhausting its signification” (Dubreuil 45). Keeping her conceptualization of literature in mind, this panel interrogates and explores literary shifts in women’s literature within the twenty-first century. To be more specific, this session attempts to understand how the twentieth century women’s literature has influenced and reconstructed their meaning in the twenty-first century contemporary feminist endeavor. It seeks to understand how the 'now'—twenty-first century women’s works—is shaped by the past, and how the present 'now' can define the future. Some questions it aims to ask are: How can multiplicitous interpretations of a text act as tools for challenging essentialist assumptions about certain ethnic Others? How can the 'now' re/define the future of women’s literature? How has the current Covid-19 pandemic made space for nineteenth century texts, especially by Woolf and Austen, to be re-interpreted? How has the global pandemic changed pedagogy, and what are its affordance and challenges? How will/has climate fiction respond/ed to the current ongoing pandemic? How has social responsibility changed towards ecology within the past decade and how can social behavior be reimagined for the future? What and how has the role of ethics of care and empathy evolved during the pandemic? Given the protests against several social injustices happening around the globe, how can 'collectivity' be worked as a signifier, signified, and an index of systemic injustice? What is the potential of Indigenous (feminist) struggles in literature and what role does agency, embodiment, and language play? What is the future of Gender and Sexuality Studies? What role does aesthetics play in experimental, multimodal storytelling, and publishing? How is utopia or dystopia re/imagined in video games and other social interactive forms?

We invite papers that interrogate the many ways in which women’s texts embrace, embody, reject, subvert, negotiate, and/or interrogate ideas of literary shifts that have happened within the past two decades, and how they shape the future. We seek to diversify and multiply the ways these ideas can be taken up, including but certainly not limited to:

· Graphic narrative and multiple marginalities
· Gender and Game Studies
· Indigeneity, cultural memory, and traditions
· Anthropocene, Plantationocene, and Environmental racism
· Relationality, empathy, affect, and ethics of care
· Reimagining Femme fatale and Desiree narratives
· Interdisciplinary research and Digital Humanities
· Agency and Embodiment
· Diasporic sensibility and postcolonial trauma
· Climate fiction, solarpunk literature
· Afrofuturist, Amazofuturist, Indigenous futurist literature
· Motherhood during the pandemic
· Representation of solidarity, allyship, working conditions
· Ace and Aro studies
· Activism in physical and online space

Please send a 500-word abstract to Sayanti Mondal (smondal@ilstu.edu) and Edcel J. Cintron-Gonzalez (ejcintr@ilstu.edu) by 18th April. Please cc both the co-chairs in your email.