Queer Monsters and Monstrous Queers: Abominable Others in Literature and Film

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Languages Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

What makes a monster? While monsters take on multiple forms—vampires, werewolves, cannibals, demons, the undead, and the uncanny, to name a few—societies from all over the world remain collectively enamored by the mystery, danger, and grotesquerie of monsters. Monsters and monstrosity inhabit cultural imaginaries as much as historic landscapes, insofar as such concepts construct, explain, or critique “the vulnerable, pathetic fantasy we distort in our simultaneous search for love and property… [t]he mystery we eliminate to create the revolt of simple things, goods, that desire mystery” (William Carlos Williams). Queerness, as both a mode of experience and of expression, can be critically interrogated through the same lens of definitive Otherness that pervades much of the discourse around monsters and monstrosity. Some of these discourses include: embodiment and the limits of bodies; savagery and civility; xenophobia and heterogeneity; nature and abomination; and desire and disgust. This session will provide space to analyze the multiple ways that monster and queer narratives may be symptomatic, perhaps even constitutive, of the discursive manner that sociocultural views of normalcy and normativity are established.

Through an examination of diverse media sources (literature, art, film, etc.), this session aims to reflect on the strange ways that monstrosity and queerness are entwined, and how both are instrumentalized within ideological frameworks that shape the contours of our intersectional experience. In looking at the interpretive value of conceiving monsters-as-queers and queers-as-monsters, this session foregrounds the possibility of reimagining the affects of fear and fascination beyond the conventional ways that they are deployed in readings of monster and queer narratives. Of special interest are presentations that provide insight on literary and cultural representations of queer/monstrosity as phenomena that can signify co-inherence with, or resistance against, social imaginaries that perpetuate dominant discourses of biopower and normalcy. Other paper topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Subversive queer/monstrous identities in literature and film;

2. Queer horror or monstrosity auteurs; the Grotesque;

3. Queer/monstrous eroticism, pornography, or fetishization;

4. Queer/monstrous intertextuality and self-reflexivity;

5. Countercanonical readings of “classic” queer/monstrous narratives;

6. Inversions, perversions, and hybridizations

Please submit proposals of 250 to 300 words, with a bio of at most 100 words, on how you intend to address one or more of the talking points above. All proposals must be submitted by September 30, 2023 through the NeMLA portal: https://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention.html

NeMLA's 55th Annual Convention will be held in-person in Boston, MA on March 7-10, 2024.

For inquiries, you may contact Christian Ylagan at cylagan2@uwo.ca.