Loyola University Chicago

Midwest Modern Language Association

Special Sessions Call for Papers

Multiple Earths, 9 realms and even a talking pig in the Spiderverse present readers and viewers with concepts to not just enjoy, but grapple with. Indeed, the multiverse has multiplied in recent comic-based films and TV—the realms of Marvel, DC, are guaranteed to draw in viewers worldwide.  This panel invites live-action comic-based film junkies to make their arguments about multiverses, the overlap and alignments of multiple realms, and the constant presence of dual identities and alter ego’s in our modern hero-obsessed world (after all, Kal El needs both Clark and Lex). Consider: male/female pairs, deaths and resurrections (Endgame coming soon to theaters near you…), dual identities, balances, shifts and peaceful coexistence.

Organized by Marta Wilkinson, Wilmington College

Send questions and proposals of 250 words and a CV to: marta_wilkinson@wilmington.edu by April 15th for consideration.

Literature and history are rife with figures who are difficult to assess. For example, the television show Dexter was premised on the question of whether or not a murderer who only kills other murderers is a villain or a dark hero. Likewise, both historians and authors have attempted to determine whether John Brown was a hero, a terrorist, a victim, or a madman? Similarly, depending on the perspective from which he is analyzed, Che Guevara was a heroic revolutionary, a violent executioner, or, perhaps, a bit of both? Was Bertha Mason the madwoman in the attic as Charlotte Bronte would have us believe or a victim of the forces of both colonialization and patriarchy as Jean Rhys describes? What impact does rhetorical and literary production play in how these individuals are understood? What is the impact of our own subject position as we read and analyze these texts? How might we see beyond those subject positions?

This panel seeks to uncover how we understand such ideas as victim, enemy, revolutionary, and terrorist through a study of the language used to produce or encode each of these groups. What role does language play in developing the hero and castigating the villain? This conversation will, hopefully, open doors to help us understand how, in the polarized political world of the 21st century, language creates heroes and villains as well as unpack the implications of this type of rhetoric. It will also give us a lens by which to understand how individuals are either humanized or dehumanized in literature, media, and historical narratives. And it will force us to consider what role literature, media outlets, social media, and the classroom play in casting individuals and groups as either hero or villain.

This panel will accept papers that look at the construction of figures from both fiction and the world outside of the pages of the book.

* What constitutes an acceptable victim? Is it tied to notions of gender, race, or age?

* What are the hallmarks of a villain? What are the ethical implications of “humanizing” the villain? What are the benefits?

* How does language impact the ways in which figures are come to be seen as either a victim or the enemy?

* What is the purpose of hagiography and what needs does it serve? What is the role that demonization plays in the development of heroic figures and why do we seem to need villains as well?

* What is the impact of understanding both our heroes and our villains as morally complex characters? What is gained by engaging in the work of undoing hagiography even of those we personally revere? What is lost when we don’t do this work?

Please submit 300-500 word abstract with a short biography to erika.mccombs@elmhurst.edu by April 15th.

This session explores how Bob Dylan’s work redraws the map of the upper Midwest, its points of locality, terminus and transit.  The songs of Highway 61 Revisited link two regions—the nascent American “Rust Belt” and the “blues highway” that brought African Americans north in the Great Migration.  The songwriter described his own artistic movement here along “the same road, full of the same contradictions.”  Blues and ballad, Dylan’s writing on the album offers a “twinned America”—a seemingly distorted or even disfigured nation.  How does Dylan’s work here in the mid-1960’s offer a renewed sense of American history and music?  Does that work offer a central narrative thread?  What transpires in Dylan’s recrafting of narrative, ballad and blues lyric?  How does his craft here produce “delight,” even in its grimmest moments of storytelling?

Session Organizer: Garin Cycholl, Indiana University Northwest (Gary, IN)

Please send an abstract/proposal of approximately 250 words via email to gcycholl@iun.edu by April 15.

In Ousmane Sembène’s 1966 Black Girl, a Senegalese woman moves to France to work as a nanny only to experience alienation and hardship. In Rainer Fassbender’s 1974 Ali: Fear Eats Soul, a Moroccan migrant worker falls in with an older woman in Munich. In Iram Haq’s 2018 What Will People Say, a second-generation Pakistani girl is forced by her father to live by his customs. Many films have sought to give a perspective and voice to individuals split between multiple cultures and/or nations. If we believe film allows audiences the possibility of understanding such duality, how does this work? Through genres like the melodrama or the social problem film? Through film form such as the shot perspective and editing that creates a point of view? This panel welcomes papers that explore the relation between film and the possibility (or impossibility) of creating and allowing audience understanding of transcultural identities through both film technique and narrative content.


Organizer: Zachary Powell, University of Rochester

Please submit abstracts to zpowell@ur.rochester.edu by April 15, 2019.



Marie Nimier's literary œuvre is multi-faceted and expressed in various forms through fiction, children's literature, theatre, and song lyrics. Her work has received considerable critical recognition; notably, La Reine du silence received the prestigious prix Médicis in 2004. Yet, much is left to be explored, in particular the themes of duality, double-entendre and double-meanings are intrinsic to Marie Nimier’s work, in particular her fiction/auto fiction. The reoccurring themes of gender, sexuality, childhood, the body, the father figure, the figure of the author, and narrative voices are all intertwined with that of duality, double-entendre and double-meanings. Some of this duality is flagrant, much to the image of the innumerable play on words and double-meanings throughout Marie Nimier’s corpus. At the core of it all lies no doubt the the omnipresent theme of the father figure in Marie Nimier’s corpus, a theme which stems precisely from duality, that of the author’s patronym itself, opposing Roger Nimier, the father-author, to Marie Nimier, the daughter-author. The double injunction imposed to Marie Nimier from her father “que dit la Reine du silence?” serves as a drive behind her fiction. This section welcomes essays exploring Marie Nimier’s works, in particular welcoming insight on the theme of duality through a transtextual lens. Proposals of approximately 200 words should be submitted by the deadline of April 15th.


Organizer : Jeanne-Sarah de Larquier


Contributions are invited for a panel of papers that connect poetry to education for sustainable development, or ESD. By now, the concept of “sustainability” goes beyond such topics as conservation to focus on how cultural and natural spaces are (or can be) constituted, maintained, and transformed. The main goal of this panel is to offer instructors at all levels practice- and/or research-based approaches to teaching poetry in the context of ESD.   We welcome poets, teachers and scholars whose work integrates poetry, pedagogy, and sustainability/environmental studies to submit an abstract. Papers may focus on research or applied pedagogy. Abstracts should be 200-300 words. A related collection of scholarly essays is also in the works. Submit to the panel organizers, Professor Sandra Kleppe and Professor Angela Sorby, along with a brief cv, no later than 15 April 2019:




This special session invites papers that explore the countervailing, and occasionally contradictory, double meanings obtaining in our notion of the “public intellectual” today. This session is especially interested in papers that comment on the figure of the public intellectual by thinking beyond the limits of the university and the academic profession, as traditionally “licensed” intellectual spaces and modes, and consider new networks and formations of intellectual affiliation, movement, and struggle that have emerged with the generalization of social media platforms and digital publishing venues (i.e. twitter, reddit, etc.), and especially in the wake of the election of 2016.

How do we reconcile the social function of “intellectuals,” and their relationship to a “public” under these communicative arrangements, and how has this undermined the social authority of the “academic,” “scholar” or “expert” in society generally, while also giving rise to a new form of popular intellectualism, of both right and left?

Please submit a 250-word abstract with your paper title and a brief bio to sgotzler@andrew.cmu.edu by April 15, 2019.



In Strange Talk (1999), Gavin Jones argues the ambivalence of late-nineteenth-century American texts’ incorporation of accents, dialects, and foreign tongues, suggesting its tendency both to reinforce and to resist white hegemonic control of the English language. Writing around a decade earlier, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (1988), Houston A. Baker (1987), Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1986) theorize the radically subversive and “deterritorializing” politics of African American English. Today, American writers Junot Díaz and Esmé Waijun Wang incorporate untranslated Spanish and Chinese, respectively, into their work. This session invites papers exploring the politics of dialect, multilingualism, and coded language in American literature. Topics might include but should not be limited to the following: 

  • Coded Artifacts in texts such as Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves;
  • Dialect Poetry, such as that of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes;
  • Dialect Tales, such as those of Sherwood Bonner, Charles Chesnutt, and Mark Twain;
  • Immigrant Narratives thematizing language, such as The House on Mango Street;
  • Junot Díaz’s Dominican Spanish, as in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao;
  • Local Color/Regionalism and its treatment of dialect and interethnic integration;
  • Signifyin(g), as theorized by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Houston A. Baker, and others;
  • Slave Narratives featuring coded messages, such as Frances E. W. Harper’s Iola Leroy.

Please submit an abstract or proposal not exceeding 500 words to andyharper@siu.edu on or before April 15, 2019. 

In “Beyond Utopia and Paradise: Cortés, Bernal Díaz and the Rhetoric of Consecration” David Boruchoff notes how Hernan Cortés’ description of the Aztec Empire creates a dualism in which references to buildings and cities in the Iberian Peninsula help to convey images of the New World to his audience (336). Doubling here represents a valuable tool that can help explain new information to an unaware reader. However, doubling can also be viewed as a way in which one propagates power in newly encountered spaces, as Cortes’ account details Spanish names replacing those of indigenous villages and metropolises. This session seeks to examine what purpose doubling serves in the literary works of the early modern period. What do duplicate names of places like New Spain or New Amsterdam hope to convey? What happens when an author retells or makes a sequel to someone else’s work? What are the implications of such actions? Papers can address texts in any language and the panel will be conducted in English. 

Please send abstracts of 250-300 words to mradomski@wisc.edu by April 15th.

We readily describe the job of university professors as having three components: research, teaching, and service. These same three components manifest themselves in the work of community college faculty. Nevertheless, full-time community college faculty typically have at least double the teaching load of their peers at the university. This much greater emphasis on teaching together with much diminished requirements (and support) for research means the work of a full-time community college instructor has a distinct balance of efforts and outcomes.


Building off the conference theme of “Duality, Doubles and Doppelgängers,” this special session seeks to critically reflect on dualities in the life and work of community college faculty. We invite proposals for papers drawing on knowledge and methods from the humanities, the social sciences, and the interdisciplinary field of higher education studies. We also welcome creative proposals such as memoirs or personal essays that help develop knowledge about the phenomenon of community college faculty.



Points of inquiry might include the following:

  • Strategies to more efficiently and better teach a double-sized teaching load
  • How dual roles of faculty as teachers and researchers complement each other in a community college setting
  • History of the dual influences of rhetoric and literary studies on the community college English curriculum
  • Representations of community college faculty in campus or academic novels
  • Autoethnography that explores the double scholarly identities of faculty whose research backgrounds are rooted in more than one discipline or field
  • How the double mission of teaching and service dovetail one another in a community college setting
  • Strategies for teaching a dual-credit student population
  • Teaching methods that support the dual outcomes of community college graduates (entering the job force or entering the university)
  • Institutional research that assesses the success of sharing limited facilities for multiple or dual needs


Please send a 250-word abstract along with a brief academic bio to sean.levenson@my.tccd.edu by April 15, 2019. This year the MMLA will meet in Chicago at the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue. The conference is held November 14-17, 2019.

This Special Session invites papers on film and literature that explore experiences of Palestinian people and culture in the Occupied Territories and in the diaspora.  In their book, Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma, Memory (Indiana UP, 2005), Nurith Gertz, and George Khleifi address the predicament of Palestinians as, on the one hand, a people that "history has forgotten" and on the other as a people that have "overlooked history."  This sense of being outside history, of being in a constant search for home, for continuity, is often the subject of many films and novels about the Palestinian experience. While literary and filmic representations of Palestinian culture, trauma, and memory give voice to the "unvoiced" everyday Palestinian experience, they can be perceived also as consuming the historical narratives of Palestinian trauma and culture.  Papers can also address how film and literature depict Palestinians living though the trauma of loss in representations of national and cultural identity while continuing their everyday existence.  Papers can explore these issues in documentary and/or feature films made by not only Palestinian filmmakers but also by filmmakers from around the world including joint productions between Israelis and Palestinians on various aspects of the Palestinian conflict.

Please email abstracts to Khani Begum at khani@bgsu.edu by April 15, 2019.



In Écrire l’espace, Marie-Claire Ropars-Wuilleumier wrote that “la notion d’espace littéraire implique une double équation, suivant laquelle la littérature, en son désœuvrement, relève de l’espace, en même temps que l’œuvre littéraire, de par la singularité de son écriture, devient apte à engendrer ce en quoi elle s’inscrit.” Fragmentary in its composition, the spatial metaphor of writing implies a certain ontological paradox: being engendered by the author’s enunciation, the text is at once situated within the spatial imaginary while tandemly being the cause of spatial genesis. This ambiguity is especially interesting in the study of Francophone literatures, with the act of writing being seen as both a privileged space of intellectual contestation and a symbol of errancy and exile. In thus keeping with this year’s MMLA convention theme of “Duality, Doubles and Doppelgängers”, papers interrogating the complex relationships between various notions of writing space/s will be of particular interest. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Relationships between writing and spatial schematization
  • Metaphors of spatiality and transnational movement; migration and exile
  • Localization of culture and the faculties of writing (sub)national memory


Please submit a 300-word abstract and short biography to Eric Wistrom at wistrom@wisc.edu by April 15, 2019. Papers may be in either English or French.

As we are witnessing a significant surge in the circulation of capital, goods, ideas, and populations, should we revisit Goethe’s 1827 concept of Weltliteratur? In the context of globalization, or to use Edouard Glissant’s more enlightening concept “globality” (mondialité), how can we teach foreign cultures through literature, cinema, music, painting or cooking? While locality can promote cultural and historical awareness by dispelling stereotypes and reductive understandings of the “Other”, globality fosters transnational affinities among different cultures. Reflecting on this year’s MMLA convention theme of "Duality, Doubles and Doppelgängers", Women in French Special Session is seeking papers that examine this duality: how can we teach La Chanson de Roland for example without looking at Saladin and the Islamic Empire, or Sembene’s Xala without studying la négritude, or Djebar’s L’amour, la fantasia without taking into account Nouba music? In terms of authenticity, legitimacy, and readability, what is at stake when these texts are taught in their original languages, and what could be lost in translation? How should we acknowledge and address the constant dialogic relationship that exists between the text and its contexts, between the local and the global, in order to better teach these texts?


Please submit a 300-word abstract and short biography to Nevine El Nossery at elnossery@wisc.edu by April 15, 2019. Papers may be in either English or French.

Relationships within families have various forms and extensions, including those between husbands and wives, homoparental couples, parents and children, the old and the young, and others. This Women in French Session seeks to reflect on how familial dualities, as site of convergence and tensions are constructed in French and Francophone narratives, even if they tend to be concealed. Submissions are invited on topics that include but are not limited to:


  • Transmission of unspeakable secrets
  • Mother-daughter “twinning”
  • Negotiation of family history and collective history
  • Representation of identity and roles within the family
  • Fictional autobiographies, family narratives, and autofictions
  • Familial story as a metonymy of the nation
  • Rewriting and remediating family
  • Film, photography and representations of family across visual media


Please submit a 300-word abstract and short biography to Nevine El Nossery at elnossery@wisc.edu by April 15, 2019. Papers may be in either English or French.


This session explores the dual roles of authors who were also actual perpetrators of major crimes such as assault, arson, and murder and how real-life alter egos are reflected in or influenced their literary construction. Time period and geographic location are open, but papers should avoid discussion of modern persons who have not been officially charged with a crime. 

Papers may explore concepts of life imitating art (or vice versa), the relationship between fact and fiction in novels describing crime, and/or the psychology of authorship in relation to deviance. Papers should address in some way the conference theme of duality in this discussion of identity roles and literal versus fictional acts of illegality. Any papers specifically addressing the transgressive nature of the role of both author and criminal are particularly welcome.

For example, Krystian Bala published the novel "Amok" in 2003, in which he details the murder of an individual. It was later discovered that these details matched the circumstances of the 2000 murder of Dariusz Janiszewski, a man Bala believed to be having an affair with his wife. Therefore, while "Amok" was a work of fiction, it contained details about a real murder that only the perpetrator would know and that served as evidence in the prosecution of Bala on that charge. Another example, is the case of John Leonard Orr, former fire chief and serial arsonist. Orr was eventually charged with multiple homicides resulting from a 1984 fire when it was discovered that his novel "Points of Origin" described a fire with matching minute details. In both these cases, the authors/murderers produced works of fiction that contained within them detailed descriptions of their real crimes. 

Please send 200-300 word abstracts to Dr. Ivy Faulkner-Gentry at faul0078@umn.edu by April 15th, 2019. Abstracts should include the names of all presenters, their institutional affiliation, and any specific audiovisual requirements.

In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler famously asserts that “gender is a “stylized repetition of acts” that are not only contingent on the public reception of that style, but also on the way in which the repetition “conceals its genesis,” where the “it” is the presumed “being” of (a) gender. T.S. Eliot makes a similarly well-known claim in his essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” when he writes that for the poet, the key difference “between the present and the past is that the conscious present is an awareness of the past in a way and to an extent which the past’s awareness of itself cannot show.” Read together, both Butler and Eliot seem to be asking a similar question about the relation between a perceived tradition and the production of the subject(ive) therein. This panel seeks papers that explore the tropes of gender imitation and social initiation in the period between 1900 and 1945 so as to ask: in what way does the desire for a tradition through which to define one’s masculinity rely upon a series of repetitions that celebrate the double, the doppelgänger, the dual? Moreover, can pushing beyond the psychoanalytic allow scholars to more effectively grapple with literary constructions of masculinity that rely on a process of repetition? Papers may consider:

-Nationalism and its imagery

-Pop culture


-Sexuality/ gay panic

-Labor and unionization efforts

-Manhood as genre/style

-The so-called “crisis of masculinity”

-Literary tradition/canonicity

-The construction of whiteness

-The construction of race and/or the effects of racism on definitions of masculinity

Please submit 300 word abstracts along with your name, department, email, and university affiliation to Rachel-walerstein@uiowa.edu by April 15th, 2019.