NeMLA 2023 Russian-American Fiction panel

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Languages Association
contact email: 

The 2023 NeMLA convention (March 23-26, Niagara Falls, New York) will include NINE panels on Slavic topics. This CFP pertains to the panel on contemporary Russian-American fiction. ALL PAPER PROPOSALS MUST BE SUBMITTED VIA NeMLA’s ONLINE PORTAL: The panel abstract is pasted below.


Deadline for abstracts: September 30, 2022

Panel to be finalized: October 15, 2022


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Panel Abstract

Empires All Aquiver: Recent Russian-American Fiction

This panel investigates representations of empire, both literal and metaphorical, in recent novels by Russian-speaking American writers, defined here as those who left the Soviet Union just before or shortly after its collapse, then settled in the U.S. The panel will contribute to understanding transnational literatures and cultures; presenters are welcome to consider how the topic of instability in these novels enters into conversation with the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, including the use of destabilizing language and the rejection of Ukrainian linguistic (and national) identity in pronouncements from the Kremlin and in the Russian media. The authors in the Russian-American cohort are trebly displaced: they are immigrants; they write in English, rather than their native language, Russian; and the state in which they were born no longer exists. Considering them as global or transnational writers reveals a fourth displacement, centered on narratives of identity inside Russia today. For this group, being a transnational writer is predicated on one dramatic movement: that of exile or flight from the Soviet Union or early-transition-period Russia. Regardless of how much time passes between that moment and the beginning of the writer’s production, the resulting texts are defined as “both/and” (the hyphenated status of Russian-American) or as “neither/nor” (especially by Russian readers). Thus, instability becomes imbedded in these texts, and the writers engage directly with this state of being, for example by presenting a crumbling Soviet or U.S. empire, or an unsteady successor state; by deforming body, mind, and perception in the novel; or by questioning the stability of language and of literature, itself. Presentations on single or multiple authors are welcome.