Deadline Extended: NeMLA 2023: The Power of Refusal: Creating and Identifying Spaces for Love and Care

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

Literature, art, and scholarship can challenge social structures that underpin injustice and create spaces where love and care can flourish. Yet they can also spectacularize, universalize, or appropriate lived experiences.

This seminar builds on successful seminars from the past three years on the roles and limits of narrative in bearing witness to trauma and injustice. This year, we explore refusal, whether in narrative, art, or literary criticism, as a strategic tool for resistance and a foundation for love and care, even as it produces discomfort. We are particularly interested in deliberate, visible forms of refusal. Some examples include: silences that gesture towards but refuse to tell certain stories; critical refusal of dominant theoretical frameworks to fill the silences and gaps created in texts (Soraya Zarook, “Care as a Refusal of Expertise in V.V. Ganeshananthan’s ‘Hippocrates,’” 2022); refusal of citational practices that reinforce patriarchal and white supremacist hierarchies (as theorized by Carrie Mott and Daniel Cockayne, “Citation Matters,” 2017); refusal of neoliberal pressures to produce at the expense of meaningful scholarship. Eve Tuck and K Wayne Yang (“Unbecoming Claims,” 2014) argue that refusal can be “not just a no, but a generative stance”: a means to oppose colonial, racist, exclusionary narratives and turn the gaze elsewhere. Building on this formulation, we ask how artistic and critical refusals can challenge unjust power relations to generate communities of care through traditional and innovative forms, genres, commitments, and relationships. What formal strategies refuse restrictive narratives and make space for love and care? Through these questions, this seminar explores the relationships between literature, art, and care, and the ethical calls made on critics and audiences.

Papers on all genres, media, and geographical contexts welcome. Please submit 200-word abstract and bio to Kelly Minerva and Lisa Propst via the NeMLA portal:

The 2023 NeMLA COnvention will be held from March 23-26 in Niagara Falls, NY.