Response and Responsibility: Reframing Women’s Literature in the Age of Precarity

deadline for submissions: 
May 24, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Midwest Modern language Association
contact email: 

Response and Responsibility: Reframing Women’s Literature in the Age of Precarity

MMLA 2023


 “Precarity is a politically induced condition in which certain populations suffer from failing social and economic networks of support.” (Butler, “Care Ethics in the Age of Precarity,” 25)  


Judith Butler mentions the inherent vulnerability of all social existences— a state of precarity that percolates into social lives through social structures and infrastructures, a condition that is enhanced by the persistence of the power matrix. Keeping in mind the various contexts of differential precariousness, this panel explores the multiple ways women’s literature offers a site of resistance and a response to the growing precariousness of lives affected by the power imbalance(s). The goal is to encourage an array of ethical, critical, and creative engagements with precariousness and precarity that help foster a sense of hope among the public during dire times.


Keeping this in mind, some of the questions we are hoping to address are: how can women’s literature frame and mirror the sociocultural, political, and economic state of the world and democracy today? How has women's work in the humanities and the arts served as a response to democracy, governments, or state-sanctioned decisions? How can an interdisciplinary feminist literary approach and queer methodology create awareness of the Anthropocene and encourage informed engagement with civil responsibilities? How can Black and Indigenous feminist critique unpack and expand upon how we occupy different spheres of the social and material landscape as individuals and as a collective? What is the role of public and digital humanities to this end? How are women-led publishing houses reframing the canon of literary works and the publishing industry? How can a Marxist reading of women's literature provide a space of resistance, perseverance, and optimism against growing right-wing, fascist, capitalist democratic nations? How can an inclusive pedagogy, rooted in ethics of care and social justice framework, particularly within the teaching of feminist/women's literature, help students become socially and ethically responsible citizens?


We seek to diversify and multiply the ways these questions can be explored, including but certainly not limited to the following:

  • Graphic narrative and multiple marginalities
  • Gender and Memory Studies
  • Gender and Mad Studies
  • Indigenous feminist and decolonial approaches
  • Anthropocene, Plantationocene, and Environmental racism
  • Relationality, empathy, affect, and ethics of care
  • Femme fatale and Desiree narratives
  • Interdisciplinary research, Public Humanities, and Digital Humanities
  • Diasporic sensibility and postcolonial trauma
  • Climate fiction, solarpunk literature
  • Afrofuturist, Amazofuturist, Indigenous futurist literature
  • Activism in physical and online space
  • Inclusive pedagogy, politics of collaboration, and representations of collective resistance


Please send a 500-word abstract to Sayanti Mondal ( and Asmita Saha ( by May 10th. Please cc both the co-chairs in your email.