Frame Narratives: Then and Now (Seminar)

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
55th Annual NeMLA Convention March 7-10, 2024 in Boston, MA

Submit 200-300 word abstracts (with a short bio) via the NeMLA Portal | EXTENDED DEADLINE: October 15, 2023. 

Please contact Ronny Litvack-Katzman ( or Adam Hill ( with any questions.

Frame Narratives: Then and Now (Seminar)

The frame narrative has often been theorized as the vestibule of a text, an “undefined zone” between an inner story and outside world. The interplay between narrative levels and their mediation vis-à-vis the frame invites confrontation with historically situated questions of presence and absence, of authority and trust, of naming and anonymity. When taken as a formal index of literary change, the ubiquity of frames across periods and genres offers significant insights into the historical contingency of such confrontations. 

If frame narratives provide a useful site of narratological inquiry at the intersection of New Formalism (Levine, Levinson, Kramnick & Nersessian) and New Historicism (Foucault, Greenblatt, Vesser), this seminar seeks papers that explore how changing cultural conditions inform the possibility, formation, and stability of narrative frames, broadly construed. 

This seminar asks us to consider the characteristics of the frame at various historical junctures: To what extent does the frame prove able to keep pace with shifting modes of cultural production and reception? Does the frame retain narrative integrity in the post-digital age? If the frame once felt idiosyncratically literary, how might we map our understanding onto new and emerging narratives and objects? 

Possible topics might include: 

-Frames as structures of and structuring narratological authority 

-The frame as a specific type of beginning or ending, as a form of entry or closure  

-How frames translate across genres  

-Frames in/as metafiction 

-Paratext as framing  

-Reading canonical frames today 

-The interplay between frames and contemporary technologies 

In conversation with NeMLA's 2024 theme, “surplus,” we welcome papers that question the positionality of frames as “outside” the story or extraneous to diegesis proper and thus a form of excess.