Interrogating Resilience and Survival

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Sarah Dowling and Sophie Feng, University of Toronto

We are seeking submissions of abstracts for our NeMLA panel. The NeMLA Convention will take place from March 23-26, 2023, in Niagara Falls, NY, USA. The 2023 conference theme is RESILIENCE. 


This panel seeks to disambiguate the terminology and query the differences between resilience and survival. Focusing on contemporary Canadian literature written in (and beyond) French and English, we will examine the ways in which literary works envision different forms of survival (of disability and illness, of violence, and of marginalization) that do not always appear as “resilient.” We are interested in examinations of literary works where ongoing vulnerabilities (bodily, psychic, or socioeconomic) are emphasized. Particularly, we will discuss the tension between commonplace understandings of survival and resilience as achievements driving plot or narrative, and understandings of survival and resilience as ground conditions of the text as a whole. We invite submissions that consider: the role of survival in the nation-building myth of Canada; the relationship/s between resilience and violence; the role of perception in framing and describing vulnerability and resilience (e.g., the ability to perceive hardship, or the meanings attributed to it); and the valuation of agency and passivity. Can resilience be recuperated as a concept in the study of structural or state-sanctioned violence and the vulnerability that they produce? We are particularly eager to receive submissions that attend to the solidarities and intimacies that emerge from adversity, and dislodge the idea of resilience as an individual experience.


This panel will critically interrogate the valuation of resilience and survival, asking whether these ought to be viewed as the precondition for, or the ultimate achievement in recent literary texts. Prioritizing discussion of recent works of Canadian literature in English, French, and other languages, we explore the challenges to resilience offered within the fields of Black, Indigenous, and critical ethnic studies.



We welcome questions and inquiries to the email address above; however, abstracts must be submitted through NeMLA's portal. You do not need to join NeMLA in order to submit an abstract.