NeMLA 2024: Abundant Silence: Narrative and Artistic Strategies of Resistance (Seminar)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
contact email: 

This seminar builds on successful past seminars on the roles and limits of narrative in bearing witness to trauma and injustice. This year, we examine relationships between silence and abundance as artistic resistance strategies against colonial, racist, and exclusionary narratives.

Silence is often discussed as an absence, but silences in literature and art are also abundant with meaning. On one hand, silences can refuse appropriations of voice and hegemonic interpretive frameworks. On the other hand, they can create echoes that produce new interpretations or ways of reading trauma and injustice. In this way, silences can be sites of excess, abundance, and plenitude. They can connect readers, authors, characters, and people represented in texts; they can produce spaces for love and care, for innovative relationships and ethical commitments. With this in mind, we invite participants to consider some of the following questions:

What are the tensions between silence and abundance in literature and art? What can we, as readers or as scholars, learn from embracing these tensions rather than trying to resolve them?

When and how might we think of silences as being full? How can silences bring something other than narrative into being? How can silences draw our attention to absences? When and how do silences echo?

What stories are told by silences, absences, or things that don’t speak? In what ways are these artworks and literature more than products to be consumed? Do the ideas of surplus, abundance, and/or plenitude offer a framework for understanding the meanings of narrative silences?

In what ways can silence and abundance interweave to create spaces of care or resistance? In what ways can silences reflect and contribute to thriving?

Papers on all genres, media, and geographical contexts welcome. Please submit 200-word abstract and bio to the portal: