NeMLA 2023 Panel: Untelling Stories: Mad Techniques of Narrative Noncompliance

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 


This accepted creative panel invites abstracts for the upcoming NeMLA 2023 conference at the University at Buffalo in Niagara Falls, NY from March 23-26, 2023. 


As Mad writers, we are called to confess: in the form of scholarship based on disclosing “lived experience,” activism which centers individual stories of trauma and healing, or sanitized “mental health” narratives which point only toward a legible life. Amidst the ever-growing demand for “mental health awareness” and concomitant psychiatrization of everyday life, Mad writers face increasing pressure to plate recovery-oriented stories for sane consumers. In the face of this pressure, I ask, where do we go? What do we write? And how do we know?


This creative panel will feature just a handful of responses to the above. It seeks self-identified Mad submissions that take normative, clinical stories of mental illness and recovery to task. Writers may explore the methodological and epistemological underpinnings of Mad creativity –– who, what, and how is Madness (made?), with original works that defy the legible, the reliable, the recovered, and the healthy. Rather, following the work of kari edwards, Bhanu Khapil, Samuel R. Delany, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Hannah Weiner, Esmé Weijun Wang, and others, this panel will be a space to share texts that defy rationality, orderliness, and sense. With these writings, we will explore narrative noncompliance as aesthetic, and technique of Mad resilience in a climate of growing medical control.


Possible themes include, but are not limited to:


– the meaning(s) and possibilities of “nonsense”


– writing (in/from/to/for) the Mad body


– the role of race/ism and culture in marking Mad experiences


– methods of disrupting, queering, and trans-figuring “mental health” narratives


– recovery, anti-recovery, and the unrecoverable


– trauma and unruly memory


– Madness across language and in “translation”


– ways of disrupting the printed, text-dominated page


– vulnerability, disclosure, and publication, especially in relation to academia


Submissions of any genre(s) will be considered, including those with audio/visual components. This panel is enthusiastically open to all who identify themselves, their experiences, and their work with Madness. Graduate students and independent scholars are especially encouraged to submit.


Submission Requirements:


Abstracts of 250-300 words and work samples (optional, encouraged) should be submitted directly on the NeMLA website by September 30, 2022: (direct link to this panel).


General guidelines for abstracts can be found at


View the conference web site at