Loyola University Chicago

Midwest Modern Language Association

Special Sessions Call for Papers

Two-Part Conference Panel

Organizers: Dr. Craig Dionne and Dr. Meg Dobbins, Eastern Michigan University

Description: For decades now, scholars have been pronouncing the humanities and the English major “dead.” Assuming we are living either in the end days leading up to or in the immediate aftermath following such an extinction event, which of our literary materials and activities survive, linger, proliferate, accumulate, and circulate in the ruins? This two-part panel seeks papers on the theme of “Junky Humanities, Literary Garbage, and Textual Flotsam.” Authors are invited to conceive of these themes broadly and creatively, as a sort of scholarly grab bag (or more aptly trash bag) for gathering our collective reflections on what it means to read, write, and teach literature in an age characterized by rampant precarity and insecurity, imminent climate disaster, and the devaluation of the humanities. What kinds of reading communities, textual artifacts/collections, scholarly affects, and/or pedagogical approaches live on—perhaps even flourish—within the material conditions of literary ruination, flotsam, detritus, wastelands, and toxicity?

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Literature, ecocriticism, the Anthropocene; representations and engagements with garbage, waste management, trash
  • “Trashy” genres and texts; popular, commercial, and lowbrow forms
  • Literary commodifications; marketing, trashy packaging; literary recycling, repurposing; revamping the English major/department etc.
  • Marginal works, textual waysides and gutters; alternative canons and histories
  • Ephemera and transient artifacts; wasted and wasting texts/ aesthetics
  • Dead, obsolete, and old-fashioned texts, authors, and textual practices; forgotten works and approaches
  • “Toxic” literary texts and authors; tarnished legacies, approaches to handling problematic figures and canons, etc.
  • Literature as touring the ruins; teaching literature as pleasure in the ruins
  • Decolonization, intentional defacement, destruction, and refusal of literary texts and authors
  • Changing student values and university climates; “cancel culture”; student activism; new campus cultures and collectives
  • Dirty books, filth; pollution; obscenity and censorship
  • Fragments, disjecta membra; diaspora; drift
  • Physical trash; print and paper; literary preservation, digital humanities, material cultures

Please submit 250-500 word abstracts (for 15-20 minute presentations) including a 1-2 page CV to Dr. Craig Dionne (cdionne@emich.edu) and Dr. Meg Dobbins (mdobbin2@emich.edu) by April 20.



This session invites proposals that engage the 2021 MMLA Conference Special Session topic, “Culture of Collectivity,” through food writing texts. Food writing performs collectivity in a number of ways, such as through recipe sharing, acts of hosting and gathering, and the communication of cultural or community identity and affiliation. The particular sub-genre of food writing for this panel is open and could include cookbooks, food memoirs, food blogs, food journalism, and novels with a food focus (e.g. Like Water for Chocolate), among others. Of special interest to this panel are proposals that examine food writing’s formation of or interaction with reading communities, especially when situated within broader cultural, regional, or national contexts. Proposals should also indicate the methodologies used and the text(s) under consideration. Proposals should not exceed 300 words and must be submitted to Brita M. Thielen at brita.thielen@case.edu by April 20, 2021 for consideration. For more information on the Special Session topic, please visit https://www.luc.edu/mmla/convention/callforpapers/.

Individual paper proposals invited on significant Black films from African American, African, and all African Diasporic Cultures that explore cultures of Blackness, Africanness, African Identity, cross cultural issues, civil rights issues, Blaxploitation, and the Black lives matter movement in the stories they tell of the Black experience around the world. Please email a 250 word abstract with a short bio and contact information by April 20 to Khani Begum (English Department, BGSU) at the following email: khani@bgsu.edu.

Individual paper proposals invited on Palestinian art, fiction, poetry, drama, and film that deals with the “Idea” of Palestinine and Palestinian Identity. Topics can explore any aspect of Palestinian life and culture in Palestine and the diaspora. Please email a 250 word abstract with a short bio and contact information by April 20 to Khani Begum (English Department, BGSU) at the following email: khani@bgsu.edu.

 

Organizer: Garin Cycholl, Indiana University Northwest

This panel focuses on the later works produced by Bob Dylan to explore the range of perspectives, styles, and influences that define the poet-musician’s work. Questions for consideration within the panel include: Is it possible to “collect” Dylan or to refer to a “late Dylan?” Is there a point of resolution to the “never-ending tour” or does it simply exist as a string or list of dates, spaces, and “abandoned masques?” What personae are collected within Dylan’s work in music, film, and media, particularly as these figures “create” a collectivized sense of “audience” for the rock-and-roller? Is the “late Dylan” a persona that draws his listeners into a wider unity with earlier adopted “masks” or do these personae continue to fragment his listeners’ grasp of the artist and his work? Is it possible to see these later works within a “collected form,” as Dylan quotes, recycles, and outright steals among these albums? As the poet-singer calls the tune, how are listeners “along for an apocalyptic ride?”


Please send a one-page abstract of proposed paper by April 20 to Garin Cycholl at gcycholl@iun.edu.

Double session

Organizer name: Gabriel Rei-Doval

Contact Information: Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. PO Box 413. Milwaukee WI 53201-0413. Email: reidoval@uwm.edu.

Call for Papers: Analysis of traveling as depicted in Galician and Portuguese-speaking online and paper publications, including literary, journalistic, memoir, autofiction and travelogue. We invite papers exploring the ideas of internal and external traveling in the Galician and Luso-Brazilian traditions. Please submit 250-word abstracts by April 20, 2021 to Gabriel Rei-Doval (reidoval@uwm.edu).

 

 

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 a paper proposal. Papers may focus on research or applied pedagogy. Proposal abstracts should be 200-300 words. We will either hold a Roundtable session or a regular panel, depending on the number of panelists. Submit to the panel organizers, Professor Sandra Kleppe and Professor Angela Sorby, along with a brief CV, no later than 20 April 2021: sandra.kleppe@inn.no and angela.sorby@marquette.edu.

 

 

Organizer: Dr. Georgia Kreiger 

Contact Information: georgia.kreiger@cuaa.edu; 734.995.7513 

This panel will explore contemporary autobiographies and memoirs in which a writer reveals family secrets, thus breaking from the family’s collective identity and creating an individual identity as truth teller.  Texts examined might include memoirs of child abuse and childhood trauma, dysfunctional family life, black sheep relatives, and other secrets the concealment of which become part of a family pact.  Presentations might address, but are not limited to, the following questions. 

 

  • What are the healing or liberating effects of revealing family secrets in writing? 
  • What are some of the consequences of betraying the family pact? 
  • By what means are early childhood memories of trauma and abuse expressed in narrative? 
  • How does a writer’s sense of self develop or change as he or she betrays secrets that have become part of the family private collective identity? 
  • What are the legal implications of revealing family secrets in life writing? 


Submit 300-word abstracts to Georgia Kreiger, georgia.kreiger@cuaa.edu, by April 20.

Organizer: Tim Roberts, Director, NP: New Press, tim.roberts@npnewpress.org, 303-726-5889.

Proposal length: 250-500 words

Deadline for proposal submissions: April 20, 2021


The question of how innovation in scholarly publishing comes about is crucial, given the speed of technological change and the quickly modified forms by which knowledge is generated and presents itself. Many if not all existing publishers and publications continue to adhere almost exclusively to the book or journal, forms whose time frames for acquisition, marketing, and production are tied to anachronistic and often oppressive communication technologies that perpetuate assumptions about what content is and how it is generated. But how do we collectively unpack how assumptions about what scholarship is determine what scholarship does or the forms it takes? In particular, how can we transform new thinking about scholarship to effect alternative publication formats, which may or may not avail themselves of the digital? This call for papers asks for work that describes and contextualizes particular difficulties or impasses presented by the scholarly publication ecosystem. We are also requesting work that contemplates and/or enacts solutions that work to generate unalloyed (not to say utopian) manifestations of research. Send submissions to tim.roberts@npnewpress.org.

This panel seeks papers considering lesbian reading cultures in any genre of lesbian writing. Papers may explore questions including but not limited to: Where is lesbian reading culture found now? How were lesbian reading cultures locatable in the early and mid-twentieth century? How have expectations for lesbian novels or lesbian characters shifted in the twenty-first century? What is the role of literary allusion and citation in connecting lesbian readers? How did LGBT print culture, including newsletters and magazines, shape reading? How did lesbian reading culture shift with the emergence of lesbian publishing houses and lesbian literary scholarship? Papers on specific lesbian novels or authors, publishing houses, and periods are also welcome.


Please send 300 word proposals for individual papers and a brief CV to Danielle DeMuth (demuthd@gvsu.edu) by April 20, 2021. Include any AV requests.

In this panel we will look at how empathy is actualized in different genres, such as art, music, film, and video games, in order to understand how these different genres of art help us harness and strengthen our own abilities to empathize in the world. We invite proposals that consider how empathy enables ethics in a specific cultural and historical context, establishing the importance of empathy--and therefore art--in navigating tensions and conflicts (personal, national, global, ideological, political, etc). Ultimately, this panel is interested in the relationship between art and empathy to dissect how we choose and encounter texts with an eye towards empathetic experience of otherness, both individually and communally. What is empathy? How do we develop empathy? How do various artistic mediums inspire, develop, or train our ability to empathize? How might empathy influence approaches to emergent sociopolitical tensions? Does a consideration of empathy in art make possible stronger collective action? 


Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to Matthew Burchanoski and Maxwell Patchet at maxwell.patchet@marquette.edu by April 20th.

 

 

Lyn Froehlich 

Lecturer, University of North Georgia 

Surviving a life of torture, violence, and lack of opportunity is not the typical story of most people in the world. However, the United Nations reports in February 2020 that there are 25.9 million refugees in the world with 37,000 people a day forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. Every one of these refugees have a story to tell. Many of their lives read like a harrowing fiction tale out of a Stephen King novel. Telling our stories is part of every culture. It is a way of developing and constructing meaning and justification of our lives on earth. We are all desperate to understand war-torn Syrian and other refugees who have experienced the loss and total destruction of their home, neighborhood, local bakery, soccer field, and schools. These physical losses do not begin to represent the disappearance of basic human dignity, pride, and perseverance.  

The stories of refugees are finally beginning to be told. We may wonder who holds their hand while fleeing and hopefully transitioning to another culture. Where do they begin learning a new language, adapting to a new culture, and processing the loss of what was left behind? Refugees are reflecting on their often resilient resolution to survive. The detailed accounts of refugee lives are provocative and important for every human to know about their fellow human. A young woman named Clemantine Wamariya writes a very personal narrative about fleeing from the Rwandan massacre at the young age of six. Dina Nayeri writes an evocative memoir titled “The Ungrateful Refugee” offering the reader insights into and exposing the idea that someone’s dignity comes at the expense of our own. There are many narratives detailing the refugee experience, however, there are also important novels recently published that provide insight of the suspicion, constant curiosity, and distrust that communities struggle with the migrant next door. A recent novel by Lorraine Adams, titled Harbor walks us through the struggles of an Algerian refugee who finally arrives in America after fifty-two days in a tanker. The reader wonders if he was better off living with the violence and vulnerability of his home country. 

Some may argue that the world is regressing. There is a public forum to tolerate and even encourage hostility. Eurocentric and colonial thinking has not embraced what initially made America a country of opportunity. Expressing these experiences and frustrations through memoir, reporting, and personal narrative is critical for understanding the refugee next door and ourselves. Many famous writers were refugees themselves at some point. Consider Khaled Hosseini who wrote The Kite Runner, came here from Afghanistan when his family fled the Soviet-Afghan War. Also consider the writing of Vladimir Nabokov, Victor Hugo, and Isabel Allende, all refugees forced to flee their countries. We should be prepared to embrace our global community and to welcome migrants through the literature we read and the lives we lead in our community. There is a rich experience awaiting us when we learn to understand the struggles and realities of fellow humans around the globe.

The refugee story is a symbiotic story that our students and peers must know. It should be a critical part of the curriculum and pedagogy of our universities. We may not be able to assuage the hopelessness and loss of lives, but we will empathize and understand a small part of their culture. Many communities now have a productive confluence of cultures where they share an immigrant experience. The investment in expressing ourselves through drawing, painting, and writing is a shared experience that allows participation at many levels of competency. Forums in refugee camps have proven the need to process through these arts the challenges of the refugee or migrant experience. Many create pictures of a mother holding them, rescue, trees, and a heart for love. Writing the details of an overturned raft, attacks on the mountain ridge, or more sadly, rape, is all an important part of the refugee’s story. As an instructor, it is critical to foster the opportunity and resources for refugees to recall, report, and remember what happened to them. In the words of Vladimir Nabokov, “Neither in environment nor in heredity can I find the exact instrument that fashioned me, the anonymous roller that pressed upon my life a certain intricate watermark whose unique design becomes visible when the lamp of art is made to shine through life’s foolscap.” 


Inquiries and/or abstracts of 250-300 words should be sent to Lyn Froehlich at lyn.froehlich@ung.edu by April 20, 2021. Please include your name, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, and paper title in your abstract.

Call for Papers: Special Session Proposal

“On Coloniality and Colonialism: postcolonial and decolonial studies in dialogue”

This panel is inspired by ongoing discussions regarding the continued relevancy of postcolonial studies before the greater push towards epistemic diversity. In attempting to broaden the scope of postcolonial studies, this panel solicits propositions that look at the many ways in which the postcolonial imaginary can be reinterpreted and applied to the larger question of coloniality from 1492 to the present day. Central questions include:

  • What is the legacy of postcolonial studies?
  • What is meant by “decolonizing” postcolonial studies?
  • What can postcolonial studies bring to decolonial studies?
  • What can decolonial studies bring to postcolonial studies?

Please submit a 300-word abstract, short biography and AV requests to Eric Wistrom at wistrom@wisc.edu by April 5, 2021.

 

 

TBD

 

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

Two-Part Conference Panel

Organizers: Dr. Craig Dionne and Dr. Meg Dobbins, Eastern Michigan University

Description: For decades now, scholars have been pronouncing the humanities and the English major “dead.” Assuming we are living either in the end days leading up to or in the immediate aftermath following such an extinction event, which of our literary materials and activities survive, linger, proliferate, accumulate, and circulate in the ruins? This two-part panel seeks papers on the theme of “Junky Humanities, Literary Garbage, and Textual Flotsam.” Authors are invited to conceive of these themes broadly and creatively, as a sort of scholarly grab bag (or more aptly trash bag) for gathering our collective reflections on what it means to read, write, and teach literature in an age characterized by rampant precarity and insecurity, imminent climate disaster, and the devaluation of the humanities. What kinds of reading communities, textual artifacts/collections, scholarly affects, and/or pedagogical approaches live on—perhaps even flourish—within the material conditions of literary ruination, flotsam, detritus, wastelands, and toxicity?

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Literature, ecocriticism, the Anthropocene; representations and engagements with garbage, waste management, trash
  • “Trashy” genres and texts; popular, commercial, and lowbrow forms
  • Literary commodifications; marketing, trashy packaging; literary recycling, repurposing; revamping the English major/department etc.
  • Marginal works, textual waysides and gutters; alternative canons and histories
  • Ephemera and transient artifacts; wasted and wasting texts/ aesthetics
  • Dead, obsolete, and old-fashioned texts, authors, and textual practices; forgotten works and approaches
  • “Toxic” literary texts and authors; tarnished legacies, approaches to handling problematic figures and canons, etc.
  • Literature as touring the ruins; teaching literature as pleasure in the ruins
  • Decolonization, intentional defacement, destruction, and refusal of literary texts and authors
  • Changing student values and university climates; “cancel culture”; student activism; new campus cultures and collectives
  • Dirty books, filth; pollution; obscenity and censorship
  • Fragments, disjecta membra; diaspora; drift
  • Physical trash; print and paper; literary preservation, digital humanities, material cultures

Please submit 250-500 word abstracts (for 15-20 minute presentations) including a 1-2 page CV to Dr. Craig Dionne (cdionne@emich.edu) and Dr. Meg Dobbins (mdobbin2@emich.edu) by April 20.



This session invites proposals that engage the 2021 MMLA Conference Special Session topic, “Culture of Collectivity,” through food writing texts. Food writing performs collectivity in a number of ways, such as through recipe sharing, acts of hosting and gathering, and the communication of cultural or community identity and affiliation. The particular sub-genre of food writing for this panel is open and could include cookbooks, food memoirs, food blogs, food journalism, and novels with a food focus (e.g. Like Water for Chocolate), among others. Of special interest to this panel are proposals that examine food writing’s formation of or interaction with reading communities, especially when situated within broader cultural, regional, or national contexts. Proposals should also indicate the methodologies used and the text(s) under consideration. Proposals should not exceed 300 words and must be submitted to Brita M. Thielen at brita.thielen@case.edu by April 20, 2021 for consideration. For more information on the Special Session topic, please visit https://www.luc.edu/mmla/convention/callforpapers/.

Individual paper proposals invited on significant Black films from African American, African, and all African Diasporic Cultures that explore cultures of Blackness, Africanness, African Identity, cross cultural issues, civil rights issues, Blaxploitation, and the Black lives matter movement in the stories they tell of the Black experience around the world. Please email a 250 word abstract with a short bio and contact information by April 20 to Khani Begum (English Department, BGSU) at the following email: khani@bgsu.edu.

Individual paper proposals invited on Palestinian art, fiction, poetry, drama, and film that deals with the “Idea” of Palestinine and Palestinian Identity. Topics can explore any aspect of Palestinian life and culture in Palestine and the diaspora. Please email a 250 word abstract with a short bio and contact information by April 20 to Khani Begum (English Department, BGSU) at the following email: khani@bgsu.edu.

 

Organizer: Garin Cycholl, Indiana University Northwest

This panel focuses on the later works produced by Bob Dylan to explore the range of perspectives, styles, and influences that define the poet-musician’s work. Questions for consideration within the panel include: Is it possible to “collect” Dylan or to refer to a “late Dylan?” Is there a point of resolution to the “never-ending tour” or does it simply exist as a string or list of dates, spaces, and “abandoned masques?” What personae are collected within Dylan’s work in music, film, and media, particularly as these figures “create” a collectivized sense of “audience” for the rock-and-roller? Is the “late Dylan” a persona that draws his listeners into a wider unity with earlier adopted “masks” or do these personae continue to fragment his listeners’ grasp of the artist and his work? Is it possible to see these later works within a “collected form,” as Dylan quotes, recycles, and outright steals among these albums? As the poet-singer calls the tune, how are listeners “along for an apocalyptic ride?”


Please send a one-page abstract of proposed paper by April 20 to Garin Cycholl at gcycholl@iun.edu.

Double session

Organizer name: Gabriel Rei-Doval

Contact Information: Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. PO Box 413. Milwaukee WI 53201-0413. Email: reidoval@uwm.edu.

Call for Papers: Analysis of traveling as depicted in Galician and Portuguese-speaking online and paper publications, including literary, journalistic, memoir, autofiction and travelogue. We invite papers exploring the ideas of internal and external traveling in the Galician and Luso-Brazilian traditions. Please submit 250-word abstracts by April 20, 2021 to Gabriel Rei-Doval (reidoval@uwm.edu).

 

 

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 a paper proposal. Papers may focus on research or applied pedagogy. Proposal abstracts should be 200-300 words. We will either hold a Roundtable session or a regular panel, depending on the number of panelists. Submit to the panel organizers, Professor Sandra Kleppe and Professor Angela Sorby, along with a brief CV, no later than 20 April 2021: sandra.kleppe@inn.no and angela.sorby@marquette.edu.

 

 

Organizer: Dr. Georgia Kreiger 

Contact Information: georgia.kreiger@cuaa.edu; 734.995.7513 

This panel will explore contemporary autobiographies and memoirs in which a writer reveals family secrets, thus breaking from the family’s collective identity and creating an individual identity as truth teller.  Texts examined might include memoirs of child abuse and childhood trauma, dysfunctional family life, black sheep relatives, and other secrets the concealment of which become part of a family pact.  Presentations might address, but are not limited to, the following questions. 

 

  • What are the healing or liberating effects of revealing family secrets in writing? 
  • What are some of the consequences of betraying the family pact? 
  • By what means are early childhood memories of trauma and abuse expressed in narrative? 
  • How does a writer’s sense of self develop or change as he or she betrays secrets that have become part of the family private collective identity? 
  • What are the legal implications of revealing family secrets in life writing? 


Submit 300-word abstracts to Georgia Kreiger, georgia.kreiger@cuaa.edu, by April 20.

Organizer: Tim Roberts, Director, NP: New Press, tim.roberts@npnewpress.org, 303-726-5889.

Proposal length: 250-500 words

Deadline for proposal submissions: April 20, 2021


The question of how innovation in scholarly publishing comes about is crucial, given the speed of technological change and the quickly modified forms by which knowledge is generated and presents itself. Many if not all existing publishers and publications continue to adhere almost exclusively to the book or journal, forms whose time frames for acquisition, marketing, and production are tied to anachronistic and often oppressive communication technologies that perpetuate assumptions about what content is and how it is generated. But how do we collectively unpack how assumptions about what scholarship is determine what scholarship does or the forms it takes? In particular, how can we transform new thinking about scholarship to effect alternative publication formats, which may or may not avail themselves of the digital? This call for papers asks for work that describes and contextualizes particular difficulties or impasses presented by the scholarly publication ecosystem. We are also requesting work that contemplates and/or enacts solutions that work to generate unalloyed (not to say utopian) manifestations of research. Send submissions to tim.roberts@npnewpress.org.

This panel seeks papers considering lesbian reading cultures in any genre of lesbian writing. Papers may explore questions including but not limited to: Where is lesbian reading culture found now? How were lesbian reading cultures locatable in the early and mid-twentieth century? How have expectations for lesbian novels or lesbian characters shifted in the twenty-first century? What is the role of literary allusion and citation in connecting lesbian readers? How did LGBT print culture, including newsletters and magazines, shape reading? How did lesbian reading culture shift with the emergence of lesbian publishing houses and lesbian literary scholarship? Papers on specific lesbian novels or authors, publishing houses, and periods are also welcome.


Please send 300 word proposals for individual papers and a brief CV to Danielle DeMuth (demuthd@gvsu.edu) by April 20, 2021. Include any AV requests.

In this panel we will look at how empathy is actualized in different genres, such as art, music, film, and video games, in order to understand how these different genres of art help us harness and strengthen our own abilities to empathize in the world. We invite proposals that consider how empathy enables ethics in a specific cultural and historical context, establishing the importance of empathy--and therefore art--in navigating tensions and conflicts (personal, national, global, ideological, political, etc). Ultimately, this panel is interested in the relationship between art and empathy to dissect how we choose and encounter texts with an eye towards empathetic experience of otherness, both individually and communally. What is empathy? How do we develop empathy? How do various artistic mediums inspire, develop, or train our ability to empathize? How might empathy influence approaches to emergent sociopolitical tensions? Does a consideration of empathy in art make possible stronger collective action? 


Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to Matthew Burchanoski and Maxwell Patchet at maxwell.patchet@marquette.edu by April 20th.

 

 

Lyn Froehlich 

Lecturer, University of North Georgia 

Surviving a life of torture, violence, and lack of opportunity is not the typical story of most people in the world. However, the United Nations reports in February 2020 that there are 25.9 million refugees in the world with 37,000 people a day forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. Every one of these refugees have a story to tell. Many of their lives read like a harrowing fiction tale out of a Stephen King novel. Telling our stories is part of every culture. It is a way of developing and constructing meaning and justification of our lives on earth. We are all desperate to understand war-torn Syrian and other refugees who have experienced the loss and total destruction of their home, neighborhood, local bakery, soccer field, and schools. These physical losses do not begin to represent the disappearance of basic human dignity, pride, and perseverance.  

The stories of refugees are finally beginning to be told. We may wonder who holds their hand while fleeing and hopefully transitioning to another culture. Where do they begin learning a new language, adapting to a new culture, and processing the loss of what was left behind? Refugees are reflecting on their often resilient resolution to survive. The detailed accounts of refugee lives are provocative and important for every human to know about their fellow human. A young woman named Clemantine Wamariya writes a very personal narrative about fleeing from the Rwandan massacre at the young age of six. Dina Nayeri writes an evocative memoir titled “The Ungrateful Refugee” offering the reader insights into and exposing the idea that someone’s dignity comes at the expense of our own. There are many narratives detailing the refugee experience, however, there are also important novels recently published that provide insight of the suspicion, constant curiosity, and distrust that communities struggle with the migrant next door. A recent novel by Lorraine Adams, titled Harbor walks us through the struggles of an Algerian refugee who finally arrives in America after fifty-two days in a tanker. The reader wonders if he was better off living with the violence and vulnerability of his home country. 

Some may argue that the world is regressing. There is a public forum to tolerate and even encourage hostility. Eurocentric and colonial thinking has not embraced what initially made America a country of opportunity. Expressing these experiences and frustrations through memoir, reporting, and personal narrative is critical for understanding the refugee next door and ourselves. Many famous writers were refugees themselves at some point. Consider Khaled Hosseini who wrote The Kite Runner, came here from Afghanistan when his family fled the Soviet-Afghan War. Also consider the writing of Vladimir Nabokov, Victor Hugo, and Isabel Allende, all refugees forced to flee their countries. We should be prepared to embrace our global community and to welcome migrants through the literature we read and the lives we lead in our community. There is a rich experience awaiting us when we learn to understand the struggles and realities of fellow humans around the globe.

The refugee story is a symbiotic story that our students and peers must know. It should be a critical part of the curriculum and pedagogy of our universities. We may not be able to assuage the hopelessness and loss of lives, but we will empathize and understand a small part of their culture. Many communities now have a productive confluence of cultures where they share an immigrant experience. The investment in expressing ourselves through drawing, painting, and writing is a shared experience that allows participation at many levels of competency. Forums in refugee camps have proven the need to process through these arts the challenges of the refugee or migrant experience. Many create pictures of a mother holding them, rescue, trees, and a heart for love. Writing the details of an overturned raft, attacks on the mountain ridge, or more sadly, rape, is all an important part of the refugee’s story. As an instructor, it is critical to foster the opportunity and resources for refugees to recall, report, and remember what happened to them. In the words of Vladimir Nabokov, “Neither in environment nor in heredity can I find the exact instrument that fashioned me, the anonymous roller that pressed upon my life a certain intricate watermark whose unique design becomes visible when the lamp of art is made to shine through life’s foolscap.” 


Inquiries and/or abstracts of 250-300 words should be sent to Lyn Froehlich at lyn.froehlich@ung.edu by April 20, 2021. Please include your name, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, and paper title in your abstract.

Call for Papers: Special Session Proposal

“On Coloniality and Colonialism: postcolonial and decolonial studies in dialogue”

This panel is inspired by ongoing discussions regarding the continued relevancy of postcolonial studies before the greater push towards epistemic diversity. In attempting to broaden the scope of postcolonial studies, this panel solicits propositions that look at the many ways in which the postcolonial imaginary can be reinterpreted and applied to the larger question of coloniality from 1492 to the present day. Central questions include:

  • What is the legacy of postcolonial studies?
  • What is meant by “decolonizing” postcolonial studies?
  • What can postcolonial studies bring to decolonial studies?
  • What can decolonial studies bring to postcolonial studies?

Please submit a 300-word abstract, short biography and AV requests to Eric Wistrom at wistrom@wisc.edu by April 5, 2021.

 

 

TBD

 

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD