She Said, He Said, They Said: (Un)Reliable Narrators in Literature

deadline for submissions: 
September 29, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

She Said, He Said, They Said: (Un)Reliable Narrators in Literature

by and/ or About Women

Submitted by Annette M. Magid

Annual Northeast Modern Language Association

55th  Annual Convention

Convention Center

Boston, MA     March 7-19, 2024


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            From monologues offering invectives about female characters in Shakespearean plays and poetry; suspicious narrations involving women in Hawthorne’s short stories and novels; distrustful narrators in Marge Percy’s sci-fi stories, novels and poetry as well as the plurality of “we” narrators which offer a sociological voice housed within the narrators’ rhetoric, the focus of this panel is to assess the impact of narrator, be it feminist, Bakhtinian, deconstructive, reader-response, psychoanalytic, historicist, rhetorical, film-theoretical, computational, discourse-analytic and (psycho)linguistic, as related to current approaches to narrative regarding the role of the women within the literary work. According to David Herman’s Introduction to his late twentieth century monograph, Narratologies: New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis (1999). “Feminist scholars, for example, have suggested that the older narratological categories do not necessarily capture how issues of gender inflect the production and processing of stories” (2).

Questions to consider might be: Has recent work in narrative theory displaced and transformed the assumptions, methods and goals of earlier, structuralist narratology? Is there any parallelism between the past attitude, perhaps Victorian, toward women and the (un)reliable voice of the narrator in various genre of literature during the expanded nineteenth century literature? Does the narrator in 21st Century literature reflect more reliability or un reliability regarding the approach to and about women? How might past approaches to women through an unreliable narrator reflect accepted attitudes toward women/ transgender individuals and their role in society at the present period of time?

NeMLA plans to have an online venue for those who wish to participant via Zoom.