CFP: Literary Dress: Fashioning the Fictional Self, NEMLA April 2011, New Brunswick, NJ

Call for Papers

Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) 42nd Annual Convention

April 7-10, 2011

New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

Abstract submission deadline:  September 30, 2010.

Fashion, fabricate, artifice, make-up: all these terms have a double valence. Each term in noun form denotes a prosthetic application of something foreign atop something natural (usually a human body) with the intention of concealing or enhancing the natural item beneath. Each term in verb form, though, carries a connotation of constitution and creation: a sense of literal “becoming,” or even investiture. In some way, these terms gesture towards the ephemeral, frivolous, and the temporary AND towards a sense of ontological making.

Scholars in anthropology, sociology, psychology, art history, and material history have all taken fashion seriously. Literary critics, though, have paid scant attention to clothes, despite novelists’ deep, vivid, and abiding interest in their characters’ dress. Literary scholars have been much more concerned with the noun forms of words related to fashion – the concern with falsity and authenticity – than the verb forms.

This panel seeks to analyze the ways in which fashion operates in literature, with a particular interest in the concept of “fashion” as a verb. Paper topics might include, but are not limited to: fashion as a Foucauldian technology of self; the pro-consumerist “girl-power” movement as a reaction to second-wave feminism; self-fashioning in the biography and autobiography; theories and criticism of text and fashion (Barthes, Rancière, etc.); comparative study of illustrations and the written word; notions of visualizing the ineffable, etc.. Interdisciplinary work is invited.

The convention will feature approximately 350 sessions, as well as dynamic speakers and cultural events. Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however, panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.

Please send 500 word abstracts as MSWord attachments by September 30, 2010, to Heath Sledge and Helen Dunn at confabstracts@gmail.com. Inquiries may also be sent to this address.

Please include with your abstract:

  • Name and Affiliation
  • Email address
  • A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee)

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