Surplus Problem Bodies: Age & Disability in Hispanic Literatures and Media Narratives (Roundtable)
55th NeMLA Annual Convention, March 7-10, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts
In a culture that enshrines and privileges youthful, abled bodies, those who deviate from the norm or “dominant protocols”, as Ato Quayson (2008) puts it, find themselves fighting for a place to exist. These bodies are seen as “excessive” in their difference, unwanted, a “surplus embodiment” (Berlant 2008) subject to regulatory cultural standards that transform them into problem bodies (Chivers & Markotić 2010) and, in turn, problem citizens that do not fit within society and the social imagination. Building on the insightful conversations held in our 2023 NeMLA roundtable, we would like to continue our work on disability and add the dimension of age to our discussion, an aspect that often overlaps with the realities of disability, to examine their representation through the lens of the 2024 theme of “surplus.”
This roundtable thus invites submissions that problematize depictions and discourses of age and disability understood as “excess” or “surplus” in Hispanic literatures and media narratives. Some of the questions that we would like to address include, but are not limited to, the following: How do representations of age and disability understood as “excess” reinforce or subvert dominant cultural ideas of normalcy? Is the representation of problem bodies as “excess” a strategy to reclaim a space within society or a ruse to have them be stored away from public view? What does the presence —or lack thereof— of these surplus problem bodies reveal about the political economy of the society and culture in which they originate? Who profits from this “excess”? Whose bodies are deemed disposable and forced into invisibility?
Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words in Spanish or English by September 30, 2023, at https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/20581. Accepted participants will be asked to prepare a 5-minute presentation on their selected literary/media text(s) as well as some guiding questions prior to the session in an effort to facilitate a fruitful, dynamic dialogue among presenters.
Berlant, Laurent. “National Brands, National Body: The Imitation of Life.” The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture, Duke University Press, 2008.
Chivers, Sally, and Nicole Markotić (eds). The Problem Body: Projecting Disability on Film, The Ohio State University Press, 2010.
Quayson, Ato. Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation, Columbia University Press, 2008.