Marginalized Women in American Historical Fiction

deadline for submissions: 
March 19, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
College English Association at the Modern Language Association
contact email: 

CEA session at MLA, January 4-7, 2024 in Philadelphia, PA

The creative work of historical fiction brings a prior time and place, one known but unfamiliar, into the present. Jerome de Groot considers one purpose of historical fiction is to “challenge the orthodoxy and potential for dissent [which will] challenge mainstream and repressive narratives.” Its characters and settings represent the cultural issues and struggles of their own time while also asking readers to recognize that many of the same situations still exist and need attention. The social and racial marginalization of women in the United States has been gaining that attention in popular culture outlets, including a Saturday Night Live cold open set in the 13th century in May of 2022. The recurrence of women’s issues and concerns reflects the women who pursue recognition and equality and use historical representation to express their voices. Authors of historical fiction novels and films have created characters to question past practices while also challenging current cultural constructs, perhaps that such work may, at some point, no longer be necessary.  

This session welcomes talks on historical fiction that confronts women’s marginal status or experiences throughout the history of the United States. Consider also texts whose characters challenge a variety of socioeconomic, racial or ethnic marginalization. Literature and films that focus on issues that continue to be relevant across time presents scholars with opportunities to reveal uncomfortable truths about the American past, discuss their importance in the present, and heighten awareness of the people who persevered against their struggles to fight for change.  

Please submit abstracts of 250 words directly to me at: by 19 March 2023. If your proposal is accepted, you must become a CEA member and an MLA member by 7 April 2023. I will notify the chosen presenters the week of March 27th.