It's Alive!: The Death, Rebirth and Refashioned City in Young Adult Speculative Fiction/MMLA YAL Permanent Session

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Midwest Modern Language Association/MMLA/Detroit, MI Nov. 13-16, 2014
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From London to Chicago, to Manhattan and Toronto, the depiction of the death and revival of the city is not uncommon in young adult literature. Revisions of the city, whether real or imagined, are found throughout Young Adult speculative fiction such as in Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely (2007-2011) series, the Steampunk Chronicles (2012-2014) by Kady Cross, Michael Scott's The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel hexalogy (2007-2012) or works like James Dashner's Maze Runner series, The Partials Sequence by Dan Wells (2013-2014), the Unwind Dystology (2007-2014) by Neal Shusterman, Nalo Hopkinson's The Chaos (2013), Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (2008-2010) trilogy, and the Divergent Series (2011-2013) by Veronica Roth. The popularity of such works has remained constant and in a technology driven age, real fears about the exploitation and power machines may hold over the human race are not fictitious but verge on real possibility. Race and gender are also the focus of such literature, whether overtly or subliminally and, ultimately, at the core of such texts is a city that has been lost, reimagined, rebuilt and is yet being reimagined again through the eyes of protagonists who typically join or create movements to build what may be a utopia still being sought. One of the primary ways protagonists, who are often female in contemporary literatures of the genre, seek to keep their civilization alive is through a game they must learn and master in order to help society rebuild and thrive. This panel seeks to explore the transformations such cities have undergone and how such retellings impact the lore of the city both through its death and rebirth. In keeping with the conference theme, "The Lives of Cities," essays that engage adaptations into video games, comic book, graphic novel, and/or film formats are encouraged. Papers addressing retellings from all time periods, not just those pertaining to contemporary adaptations, are also sought.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

Gendered spaces of performance and gender
Socioeconomic status and its place in the death/rebirth of a city
The use of technology in the death/rebirth of the city
Traditionally oppressed communities roles within the death/rebirth of a city
Government's role in the destruction and/or idealization of the city/city-state
Revisions of "powers" of the undead/supernatural
Illustrations of urban gothic revivals
The impact of colonialism/the colonized on the city
The role of the city through its own transformation
Lost and reclaimed/repurposed architectures
Rewritten texts for older/younger audiences
Cross-Writing/Reading of such literatures
The use of magic, belief in/practice of, and access to such power through the death/revival of cities

Inquiries and/or abstracts of 250-300 words may be sent to Amberyl Malkovich at by June 15, 2014.