Panel: 20th-Century American Narratives of Redemption (DEADLINE: Sept. 30, 2014)

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NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association)
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46th Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association
Toronto, Ontario
30 April - 3 May 2015

Panel description:

Redemption has occupied a special place in American history. Ernest Lee Tuveson wrote a part of this history, claiming in 1968 that the idea of a “redeemer nation” was theological in origin and shaped the notion of a redemptive American mission, from the “city on a hill” to manifest destiny. Although the history of American redemption is buttressed by a religious frame, its political narratives imagine instating a certain political scenario: not redemption in the abstract, or only in the hereafter, but as historically contingent social and political projects. In its more international contemporary variant, the American redemptive mission promises to redeem by civilizing global politics, by mitigating and regulating Old World patriarchy, and by defending capitalism. As such, it is founded on the paradoxical notion that what works in America—what makes America exceptional--must work abroad, and what has redeemed America will redeem the world.

This panel seeks to explore the politics of redemption in 20th Century American culture, including works that resist mainstream discourses of redemptive politics. It welcomes papers on literature, film, and other forms of cultural production that engage and/or disrupt American narratives of redemption, whether at home, abroad, or lost in between.

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