NeMLA 2024 Panel - Bodies in Excess / Excess(ive) Bodies

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Marina Malli, Binghamton University
contact email: 

Hortense Spillers describes the Black woman as “a locus of confounded identities”: “‘Peaches’ and ‘Brown Sugar,’ ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Earth Mother,’ ‘Aunty,’ ‘Granny,’ God's ‘Holy Fool,’ a ‘Miss Ebony First,’ or ‘Black Woman at the Podium.’”[1] Borrowing Nicole Fleetwood’s term “excess flesh”[2] which refers to the hypervisibility of Black female bodies, this panel seeks to engage with the representation of bodies that are seen as “excess” or “surplus.” Fleetwood explores artists and performers that reclaim or subvert the attributed “excessiveness” of the Black female body using this very corporeality to (re)gain ownership of Black female subjectivity and narrativization.

This panel calls for analyses of how some bodies are hailed as aberrant, deviant, or excessive, and more importantly, how these bodies are reclaimed. I welcome explorations of “excess” bodies in literature, popular culture, performances, or visual art. One can think of Kara Walker’s depictions of Black bodies which employ stereotypically racialized images to openly examine visual representations of racism, or Toni Morrison’s enfleshment of the ghost of enslaved daughterhood/motherhood in Beloved. While this panel is primarily interested in representations of the Black body, other discussions of bodies in excess will be considered.

[1] Spillers, Hortense J. “Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics 17.2 (1987): 64-81. JSTOR,

[2] Fleetwood, Nicole R. Troubling Vision Performance, Visuality, and Blackness. U of Chicago P, 2011,


The 55th NeMLA Annual Convention will take place in Niagara Falls, Boston, MA on March 7-10, 2024.


Please submit a 200-300 word abstract and a short bio.

Abstracts accepted now through Sep 30, 2023. (Membership is not required to submit abstracts.)

Abstracts must be submitted through the NeMLA online portal:


For more information on submitting an abstract online, see

For questions about the panel, please contact Marina Malli (