Loyola University Chicago

Midwest Modern Language Association

Undergraduate Research Symposium

2018 MMLA "Consuming Cultures"

Undergraduate Research Symposium

Kansas City, MO. November 15-18, 2018


The Forum’s Goals and Rationale

The Midwest Modern Language Association is a regional affiliate of the Modern Language Association. Our annual conference hosts professors, graduate students, and undergraduate students who give presentations on their literary research. We invite proposals for the Undergraduate Research Symposium for the 2018 conference in Kansas City, Missouri on any topic; we particularly welcome papers that engage with the conference’s theme of “Consuming Cultures.” This is a professional development opportunity, one that is particularly useful if you are interested in graduate school.

To apply, please submit an abstract of 250 words along with your name, year in school, institution,and faculty mentor’s name to mmla@luc.edu  by 30 April 2018. Use the subject line, "undergraduate symposium submission." The abstract should summarize a paper of 8-10 pages; if accepted, you will deliver your paper in a 15-20 minute oral presentation in a panel with other presenters. Please note that the Undergraduate Research Symposium is intended as a venue to present work done by undergraduate students; current graduate students are invited to submit their work to the conference’s regular sessions (the CFP for which may be found here: https://www.luc.edu/mmla/ convention/callforpapers/).

Please do note that despite the conference’s theme, it is the goal of the undergraduate research symposium first and foremost to showcase and celebrate exciting new research by undergraduate students across the Midwest; we, therefore, accept papers on any literary topic and time period, regardless of its immediate relevance to the conference’s theme.

Consuming Cultures

Our current moment is rife with tensions surrounding ideas of culture. The consumption of culture, in particular, both excites and threatens us, as the meanings associated with that consumption have become increasingly multivalent and complex. For instance, Kyla Wazana Tompkins discusses racism in nineteenth century U.S. literature in terms of food cultures. Looking at the disturbing correlations of "food and flesh," she notes, "the evolution of eating cultures across this period opens up new areas of inquiry into the alignment between bodies and bodies politic" (7-8). In this year’s conference, we wish to focus very closely on the two themes of consumption and culture. We are interested in issues of cultural engagement and/ versus cultural appropriation. To that end we seek to analyze this topic by asking a number of questions: What is meant by culture, by consumption? How does one consume multiple cultures? What is it to have a culture of consumption? How do issues of class play out in who consumes and what is consumed? How can we consume sustainably? What is the future of consumption?

Topics could include, but are by no means limited to:

Studies in food, agriculture, animals, and plants; intersections between postcolonialism, imperialism, and capitalism; the co-opting of culture as a consumable good; ecocritical readings of consumption; transcultural identities; activism; varying methods of consumption: digital, etc; disability studies in culture; issues of feminism and womanism; cultures of non-consumption: asceticism; consumption vs. production.