October 5, 2021


Depicting Virtual Spaces: Econarratology and Speculative Fiction

Primary Area / Secondary Area: Comparative Literature

Chair: Joseph Boisvere (Graduate Center, CUNY)
In her 2015 book The Storyworld Accord: Econarratology and Postcolonial Narratives, Erin James makes invaluable contributions to the fields of ecocriticism and narratology. James argues that by applying the precepts of ecocriticism to depictions of setting in postcolonial narratives, we can enrich our understanding of how place more generally is understood in the context of fiction. This panel will approach speculative fiction - science fiction, fantasy, and related genres - in the context of econarratology. How do speculative literary, audio/visual, and digital/new media texts depict settings which are fully virtual, not of this time or this world? Hallmark elements of these genres, such as technology, magic, and futurity, influence how these texts treat setting in ways that challenge the centrality of the western human subject. By examining texts across frontiers of media, time, and place, this panel intends to examine how James's powerful contribution to narratology can expand traditional notions of the narration of fantastic, virtual, and uncanny environments.
This panel will address speculative fiction from the perspective of econarratology, particularly as outlined in Erin James's 2015 book The Storyworld Accord: Econarratology and Postcolonial Narratives. Particular attention will be paid to how articulations of setting challenge the centrality of the western human subject in fiction that features fantastical, futuristic, or virtual worlds.

Expected Resilience: Explorations of the Conditions and Causes of Precarity (NeMLA)

Niagara Falls Convention Center
Organization: NeMLA
Event: NeMLA
Categories: Postcolonial, Hispanic & Latino, Comparative, Literary Theory, World Literatures, African & African Diasporas, Asian & Asian Diasporas, Australian Literature, Canadian Literature, Caribbean & Caribbean Diasporas, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle East, Native American, Scandinavian, Pacific Literature
 Event Date: 2023-03-23 to 2023-03-26 Abstract Due: 2022-09-30
Resilience has become a buzzword that informs the lives of many; people in precarious situations are applauded for being resilient and enduring adversity after adversity. However, what is the cost of resilience when there is no solution to its cause? This panel considers the dangers of expected resilience, especially from people and communities who are expected to endure continuous hardships of slow and active violence. Some questions that this panel considers are as follows:
How is resilience understood in relation to neoliberalism and globalization?
What happens when resilience is used as a scapegoat or an excuse for neglect and abandonment?
What are the dangers of fetishizing and glamorizing resilience, of focusing on the victim who must constantly cope with ongoing trauma instead of focusing on what is causing them harm?
Does violence beget resilience, and resilience beget compounding traumas?
This panel invites cross-disciplinary proposals from researchers in trauma studies, cosmopolitanism, postcolonialism, transnational and world literature on, but not limited to the following topics: vulnerable resilience, slow violence, survival vs. resistance, neoliberal globalization in literature, nation-states and contemporary postcoloniality, trauma(s) of forced migration in literature, modernity’s counter-history in literature, and the conditions of refugeehood and humanitarian aid.
All proposals must be submitted through NeMLA's online portal. Submissions accepted between June 15 and September 30th. 
 Lara El Mekkawi, Kelly Baron


Intersectionalities of the SWANA Bodies, Borders, Literatures

Niagara Falls Convention Center
Organization: NeMLA
Event: NeMLA 2023
Primary and Secondary Areas: Global Anglophone, Comparative Literature, Intersectionality, Postcolonial, Southwest Asia and North Africa Diasporas, World Literatures, Critical Race Studies, Critical Gender and Sexuality Studies, Critical Arab Studies.

This panel invites interdisciplinary proposals that bring to attention the multiple, contradictory, and shifting approaches that encompass the studies of the Southwest Asia North Africa (SWANA) region. The overarching aim of this panel is to shed light on the theoretical and political significance of intersectionality for critical engagement with the SWANA region. We invite contributions examining how the relationalities of bodies, cultures, and cultural productions in the SWANA region and its diasporas shape discourses across nations, re(li)gions, and languages as they converge and
diverge in their religious, racial, ethnic, and gender*sexuality-based identities. Equally important is mapping the intersecting power structures that mark bodies and borders at local, interpersonal, and transcultural levels. The proposals are asked to speak to the political project of intersectionality in making invisible oppressions visible and calling attention to interlocking and multiple power systems. Inquiries may include:
• How can the definitions and studies of the SWANA region optimize intersectionality?
• How are gender*sexuality, ethnic, and racial borders erased, resurrected, or intersected by nation-states and transnational political projects?
• How do cultural productions that speak to or stem from the SWANA region navigate intersectionalities and/or relationalities that (de)construct notions of SWANA identities and/or cultures?
• What are the challenges in attending to relationalities that deconstruct notions of SWANA identities and/or cultures?
• What are the challenges in attending to relationality and difference within the region?
• How can transnational feminism and intersectionality join forces in the studies of the SWANA region?
• What future possibilities does the study of the SWANA region bring to the field of intersectionality studies?
This panel invites interdisciplinary proposals that navigate, chart, and/or construct the intersectionalities and relationalities of bodies peoples, cultures, and literary productions in the transnational SWANA region and its diasporas.
- All presentations must be in English.
- All proposals must be submitted through NeMLA's online portal.
- Submissions are accepted between June 15 and September 30th.
- For further inquiry, please get in touch with the organizers of the panel,
Shirin Assa & Natalie El-Eid
French and Francophone / Interdisciplinary Humanities
Chair(s) Nikhita Obeegadoo (Harvard University) & Yassine Ait Ali (Princeton University)
Literary explorations of (dis)ability are intensifying and reaching new audiences in the French and Francophone world. A quick look at recent nominees of the prestigious Goncourt literary prize confirms as much: Clara Dupont-Monod’s S’adapter (2021) explores the various forms of "adaptation" undergone by a family who welcomes a "different" child into its midst, while Adèle Rosenfeld’s Les méduses n'ont pas d'oreilles (2022) delves into the challenges of hearing impairment in today’s transhumanist world. These works of literature are central to placing (dis)ability at the heart of both public and academic debate, not through mere “labels” or “categories,” but as a productive provocation to re-imagine the diversity of human minds and bodies. This rich French and Francophone literary corpus remains understudied, given the slow uptake of disability studies in French academia as opposed to its UK and US counterparts (see, for example, Hannah Thompson). Seeking to address this void, our panel welcomes contributions situated at the crossroads between disability studies and contemporary French and Francophone literature. How do texts’ play with narrative and language help us reframe what we understand by (dis-)abled bodies? After all, literature engages with "othered" bodies as enmeshed within broader constellations of feelings and circumstances, thus engaging not simply with their tragic aspects but also their potential for agency, resilience and creativity. How are literary imaginations of (dis)ability crucially modulated by cultural expectations, as well as factors such as gender, race and sexuality? As Julie Nack Ngue demonstrates in her studies of West African and Caribbean narratives, concepts emerging from disability studies are also meaningful in relation to postcolonial and racial theory; together, they may operate in politically subversive ways that defy hegemonic Western paradigms. Ultimately, then, how does literature crucially push forward interdisciplinary conversations on (dis)ability?
This panel welcomes papers that explore how narrative and language re-imagine (dis)abled minds and bodies, often in relation to factors such as race, gender and sexuality. We are interested in how literature explores "othered" bodies as not simply vessels for tragedy but also agents of resilience, agency and creativity, thus pushing forward the interdisciplinary field of disability studies.

Please submit abstracts of 200 to 250 words.


Resilient Environments and World Literatures: Post Disaster Recovery and Future Worlds

Recently, resilience has become prominent in many different areas of research and scholarship. Despite its various characterizations, resilience can be broadly defined as the ability of an ecosystem to recover, after a disturbance that generated losses (see Lake 2013, Wiig and Fahlbruch 2019). In particular, the concept of resilience developed into an essential perspective in the case of environmental degradation, pollution and disaster. Literary works across cultures, languages and geographical spaces have been dealing with how communities - human and nonhuman alike - manage to survive and build resilience in the space and time of disaster or in damaged, polluted and contaminated environments. However, as Karen Thornber notices, resilience oftentimes is represented in very ambiguous terms (2016). Therefore, this panel wants to analyze the various ways in which resilience has been conceptualized, narrated or described in world literatures. It wants to address the complex issues that ecofictions bring forward across various languages and cultures and how these literary works represent the conflicted nature of resilience. Furthermore, this panel is also interested in researching the possibilities that resilience opens up for the narrativizations and conceptualizations of future worlds that could develop in the aftermath of disasters or environmental degradation. Some of the questions this panel wants to discuss are: How do world literatures construct resilience as a way to respond and overcome the collapse of the environments we and our nonhuman others live in? How do world literatures use varied expressions of resilience to build possible future worlds? How can resilience be ambiguous and how have world literatures described this ambiguity?

Panel organizer: Giulia Baquè, PhD candidate (Ca’ Foscari University / Heidelberg University)

Please submit your abstract through the NeMLA online submission system:

Deadline: September 30, 2022




Organizer: Yan Lu
Co-Organizer: Kirsten Vanderwerff
Connections between Asians and Indigenous communities have long been formed through Asian migration around the world. Asian diaspora, from indentured labourers to new immigrants, have centuries of contact history with Indigenous peoples in settler societies. However, the two communities have been and continue to be imagined separately and disconnected from each other; their relations are underrepresented in public and scholarly discussion.
   This seminar examines the varied presence of Asian-Indigenous relations and their literary, cinematic, artistic, and cultural representations across history and societies. Asian-Indigenous relations are distinct from the minority-versus-majority opposition and illustrate a unique set of interactions at the margins. The entangled histories reveal cultural connections and growing possibilities of alliance and solidarity in the struggle for decolonization and anti-racism. Meanwhile, the shifting positions of the two communities alert us to their asymmetrical power relationship in an uneven social-political field. 
   The seminar aims to foster cross-cultural dialogues between Asian studies and Indigenous studies. We welcome papers on all aspects related to Asian-Indigenous relations and seek to address questions that include, but are not limited to: How are the relations between Asian immigrants and Indigenous peoples in different countries from the 18th century to the present? How did restrictive policies and legislations toward Asians and Indigenous peoples impact interracial intimacies? What are the enduring and emerging challenges that the two communities find themselves facing? How are legacies of Asian-Indigenous history passed on through family heritage, cultural practices, and mixed identity? How are Asian-Indigenous relations represented in literature, film, art, and media? With focus on Asian-Indigenous relations, this seminar also invites papers on the general topic of diasporic and Indigenous crossings.
Comparative and/ World Literature/s in India
Organizer: Rajnandini SHAW
This is to propose a seminar on Comparative and/ World Literature/s in India. It is aimed to focus at the more recent trends in Comparative and/ World Literature/s in India, especially over the ongoing pandemic years. This may include current practices in learning, teaching, distribution and dissemination of Literature/s across India and the World, in or outside the comparative framework of study. For instance, digitization and delimitation of the Humanities in particular that have shaped the discourse of our times; or, linguistic, literary and/or cultural mutation of the humanitarian paradigm. This broad ranging new and diverse seminar proposal welcomes past and new ideations of Comparative and World Literature/s in India from, in or away from India, however, related to and focused on India, in order to chart newer territories of further discussion, dialogue and debate, that may flourish in our highly distinguished academic spaces globally- may not be ‘global’ nonetheless.
   Ideal time length of the paper and/or presentation is 20 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of questions, comments, observations and suggestions; discussion is subject to availability of time and interested discussants.
Organizer: Naghmeh Esmaeilpour
Co-Organizer: Simla Ayse Dogangun
This seminar seeks papers that reflect on how national authors attempt to introduce and present their countries through the lens of the literature to the world readers, on the one hand, and how the concept of world literature functions at the national and international levels, on the other hand. Envisaging this reciprocity as a point of concern does not either exclusively disregard the hegemony implicit in the discussion of the concept of world literature or take it as a single way of approaching world literature studies. We are interested in papers that deal with the ambiguity of the processes through which peripheral literature become members of the “World Republic of Letters”, and how this process is experienced vice versa. World literature, from Goethe’s proposal till the current debates, is the process of international communications, interactions, translations, and mutual exchanges which should not be limited by definitions or restrictions. It refers to the literature which is open to the world, and it has a unique way of exchange with other nations. The mutual understanding between different nations in the world through the lens of the literature shows how literature by means of language, narratives, symbols, and metaphors builds a connection, better to say a dialogue, between countries by transferring ideas, cultures, information, etc.
    Analyzing national framing in world literary studies looms large as there has been a pushback against globalization as homogenization in the past few years. The national returns with a renewed force in our contemporary political world under the guise of new dictatorships arising, namely, in the case of Turkey or now with Afghanistan. In this context, the reification of boundaries necessitates a re-examination of national literature, and in our view, reading world literature through discussing the circulation and reception of the central literature in the periphery and vice versa is one such way. We welcome original papers that contribute to the theoretical and methodological discussion of the concept of world literature, as well as analyses and comparative interpretations of literary works that tackle this reciprocity.


Experimental Form, Experimental Thought?

Daniel Martini and Aili Pettersson Peeker,


Today, experiments about how humans think usually take place in a lab, allowing researchers to locate thought processes in the brain with unprecedented precision. However, writers have experimented with thinking for much longer. For instance, Virginia Woolf argued in her essay “Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid" (1940) that a new form of (women's) writing can cause a shift in how British men think and bring about peace. Between the Acts (1941) demonstrates how tone, rhythm, and diction can produce different cognitive registers—Elizabethan, Enlightenment, and Victorian—thus connecting form and cognition. Just as for Woolf, the relationship between cognition and form is intimately connected to questions of gender, and of race, for Toni Morrison. For example, she explained that in order to render the “stereotypically male narrative” of Song of Solomon (1977), she had to pause her experimentation with sequence and time from earlier novels. But why does a “male narrative” require a different form?


This panel seeks to explore if literary experiments with form can also experiment with how we think. Our question draws on existing research in neurocognitive science, neuroaesthetics, cognitive narratology, and 4E cognition that suggests that thought can be driven by formal properties of writing. For example, entrainment through rhythm or repetition (the “when”) can determine selective perception and cognition (the “what”). Topics could include mnemonics; deixis; affordance; narrative structure; and other formal elements that might influence emotions, empathy, and attention. We also invite papers that examine the relationship between script and cognition, such as the capacity of language to communicate through both phonological and lexical routes, as well as issues of translation. We invite a broad range of interdisciplinary papers from any period, genre, and language that speak to how form might experiment with thought.


Organizer: Rudrani Gangopadhyay

In the last decades, cities around the world have experienced unprecendented economic, political, social, and spatial transformations. As these changes bring new challenges for the ways in which we categorize the boundaries of the urban and the definitions of the city, urban theorists have been condering the possibilities of the twenty first century bringing in post-urban stage. This seminar invites abstracts which reflect on this notion of the post-urban, the spatial, political and socio-cultural transformations that this brings about around the world, as well as its representation in literature and in cinema from interdisciplinary perspectives. 

Hayao Miyazaki: the Auteur of Animation Films

Organizer: Yu-Yun Hsieh
Co-Organizer: Joseph Boisvere

When Hayao Miyazaki, the world-famous founder of Studio Ghibli, received the Golden Lion award for life achievement in 2005, he was lauded as one of the greatest directors in Japanese cinema for blending “romanticism and humanism with a feeling of the epic.” Although traditional hand-drawn animation remains the mainstay of his media, Miyazaki, like a film auteur, conceives or adapts the story ideas, sketches storyboards, and leads a team to actualize his dreams. Over his decades-long career, Miyazaki has created many iconic characters and strong female leads like Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro), Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service), San (Princess Mononoke), No Face and Chihiro (Spirited Away) and Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle). Miyazaki raises the bar for animation films with his realistic portrait of fictional characters and espouses in his work his philosophical and environmental beliefs. His East-West aesthetics have become a distinct force in the West, especially since 1996, after Disney became the main distributor of Studio Ghibli.

This seminar welcomes submissions that explore themes like humanism, feminism, spiritualism, and environmentalism in Miyazaki’s work, emphasize his unique East-West aesthetics, position him as a film auteur or adapter, examine the legacy of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli in Japanese cinema, film studies and cultural studies, or investigate the impact of Studio Ghibli in Hollywood in light of industry studies.  


“How was the New Woman comparatively constructed in the East and West”

Organizer: Simone O Malley Sutton
Co-Organizer: Ji Hyea Hwang

The term ‘New Woman’ was coined by Irish feminist writer Sarah Grand in 1893. How was the New Woman comparatively constructed in the East and West? How did each new alternative version influence the next, as divergent versions travelled across cultures in this reciprocal transnational exchange of radical ideals between East and West? Did imbricating themes of gender, postcolonialism, language and modernism all collide globally to form the New Woman? And what are the stakes for modern audiences?
   Nationalist revolutions frequently open a liminal space for female subjectivity, yet these New Women subjectivities were often subject to, and circumscribed by, the problematising interplay of masculinist rhetoric and nationalism, as predominantly masculinist nationalist discourses indefinitely postponed the struggle for women’s rights, to first establish freedom for the nation. Did male writers seek to co-opt constructions of the New Woman? How does the establishment of modern versions of masculinity complicate these categorisations? Was the New Woman category constructed differently in the postcolonised peripheries than in the imperial centre? How did intersectionalities of race, gender, age and class combine to form the erasure of female literary legacies? And how do themes of erasure link to how female literary legacies were written out of what became ‘his-story’? We welcome comparisons of how the New Woman was created in the East and West, as well as previously unexplored pairings as a work of retrieval for erased and elided female literary legacies.


Organizer: Ryan Johnson
Co-Organizer: Mark Byron
This seminar welcomes papers on the relationship between the Southern Hemisphere and East Asia in modern and contemporary literature. East Asia has become increasingly important to the study of World Literature. Scholars have begun to investigate the smaller worlds formed by literary exchange within East Asia before Western incursions into the region. Others have called for “Global Asian Studies,” stressing the need to study the impact of East Asian literature on World Literature from non-Eurocentric points of view. At the same time, the Southern Hemisphere has attracted attention for its capacity to challenge European notions of time and literary transmission. The immense time scale of the Indigenous occupation of Australia and its multi-millennia history of oral literary transmission seems to complicate or even invert time scales essential to the study of World Literature from a European perspective. The attempts of writers  to reconcile Indigenous and foreign time scales in Australia, Aotearoa / New Zealand, and elsewhere in the Pacific region, have been upheld as evidence of how modern World Literature often entails reconciliation of competing time scales and definitions of literature itself.
   This seminar merges these significant streams in literary studies to produce a more comprehensive understanding of the importance of the Asia Pacific region to World Literature. How can the interplay between the Southern Hemisphere and East Asia recenter studies of World Literature away from European and North American paradigms, and perhaps even revise those paradigms themselves? How do art and cinema affect the transmission of literature throughout the Asia Pacific, ranging across locations as diverse as Taiwan, Guam, Hawai’i, and the Philippines to Indonesia and South America below the equator? How does the flow of literary material, through migration or translation, redraw the boundaries of the Pacific and East Asia? What new literary or geopolitical configurations emerge when the East Asia and the Southern Hemisphere are considered as a single region of literary production?  Papers may range across any period or genre, but are encouraged to consider how the flow of artistic and literary exchange across the Pacific region, broadly conceived, aids in reconsidering both geopolitical alignments and the notions of “world” and “literature” at large.
Organizer: Dominique Jullien
Co-Organizer: Peter Bloom
Our recent collective experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to come to terms with a hyper-mediated, indirect, remote mode of perception and interaction. It has also led to a mistrust of perception and vision. Arguably, this crisis has become intensified as a local and global phenomenon, but has also been part of a longstanding historical predicament involving technologies of mediation. The “constructedness of vision” (J. Crary) provides access to questions that address the theoretical rootedness of our contemporary situation by reference to historical technologies of sensory mediation, which bring about a questioning of presence, meaning and subjective stability.
     Engaging with these themes, in this seminar we consider how optical technologies, beginning in the late 18th century, generated a mediated, constructed experience of reality that concurrently bred ambivalence, in the form of regressive nostalgia for an idealized, simpler, unmediated time for instance, alongside a fascination with illusionism. The privileged status of print culture has been threatened, but literature nevertheless has found new synergies and renewed creativity by interacting with newly dominant visual media. We explore how technologies of optical mediation provide a point of entry into pre- and post-Freudian discussions of the uncanny that M. Warner has described as that which crosses ​​“the ambiguous, terrible, and enthralling borderland between animation and lifelessness” (Phantasmagoria). Examples may range from Gothic automata stories to modern robot tales, stage illusions and magic in popular performance genres such as phantasmagorias and féeries, to special effects in early cinema, or contemporary considerations of AI.

We invite proposals that engage with (but are not limited to) some of the following themes and questions:
• Historical approaches to mediated illusionism and anti-illusionism in magic performances, theater and early media
• The uncanny, secular magic, and magical thinking
• Technologies of perceptual mediation and strategies for “re-enchantment of the world” (J. Landy & M. Saler)
• The Freudian civilized/primitive dichotomy and its questioning in modern consciousness
• Ambivalent (euphoric/dysphoric) responses to technological hyper-mediation
• Transmedial responses to technologies of sensory mediation (in particular optical mediation) in the cultural continuum
Organizer: Reinhard G. Mueller
Co-Organizer: Timon Georg Boehm
Contact the Seminar Organizers
Organized on behalf of the Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation

How do we orient ourselves to texts? And how do texts orientate us? How do texts shape the world that we orient ourselves in? Since the invention of writing, fundamental reorientations of thinking have often occurred hand in hand with innovative forms of writing: Parmenides created didactic poetry of the divine in order to teach his doctrine of true being; Plato the dialogue in order to avoid all doctrines; Aristotle the treatise in order to teach it in his own name; Augustine the auto-biographical confession in order to explore his inner being before God; Montaigne the essay in order to seek truth via unbiased self-observation; Descartes the meditation in order to justify truth based on the certainty of one’s own thinking. This process of differentiation and innovation has continued up until today, for instance, via Nietzsche’s performances of masks, James Joyce’s experimental thoughtstream, Wittgenstein’s album, and Derrida’s deconstruction. Our contemporary world has witnessed an explosion of diverse digital forms of writing that has in many regards revolutionized the ways we communicate. New forms of communication can bring about radical reorientations; and foundational reorientations often require new forms of writing to communicate them.
   In this seminar, we seek to explore, via the concepts of the philosophy of orientation, how different forms of writing orient us in different ways and create different worlds of orientation. The philosophy of orientation was developed by Werner Stegmaier, at first in German in his Philosophie der Orientation (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2008) and subsequently in its abridged and updated English translation What is Orientation? A Philosophical Investigation (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2019).
   We welcome all orientation-philosophical explorations of (but not limited to):
  • innovations of the forms of writing across time
  • the distinctions and connections between different genres of writing, such as philosophy and literature
  • how different forms of writing shape different ways of thinking and orientation
  • digital forms of writing
  • differences of writing regarding cultures, classes, races, and ethnic groups
  • the relationship between literary theories and texts
Organizer: Miguel Antonio Lizada
Co-Organizer: Lou Rich
The notion of “Queer Asia,” whether implied or stated directly, is a paradox. On the one hand, it refers to the ways in which queer Asian subjects are positioned within the grid of geopolitical homoerotic power relations as submissive, subjugated, or (in the case of gay male subjects) castrated and feminized (Fung 1991; Atkins 2012; Lim 2013) subjects. On the other hand, Queer Asia” has been reclaimed by intellectuals and activists as a framework through which novel forms of sexualities may be reproduced and radical forms of anti-colonial, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist critiques may be marshalled (Nguyen 2014; Liu 2015; Luther and Loh 2019; Chiang and Wong 2020). This proposed seminar invites scholars in the field to build on these conversations by placing “Queer Asia” within the entanglements of contemporary global crises.  
   The relationship between queer politics and crises is not new. Queer movements after all occurred during and were exacerbated by various crises and political turning points: the Civil Rights movement, the AIDS pandemic, among other things. The recent biomedical and social crises have given rise to texts and practices that either mobilize or undo the radicalizing potential of “Queer Asia.” We can think of how Boys Love (BL) web series enjoyed extensive wide viewership in the East and Southeast Asian region during the COVID-19 pandemic and how these new series were produced in places under authoritarian and militarized economies. We can think of Call Her Ganda (2018), a documentary on the murder of Filipina transwoman Jennifer Laude at the hands of Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton (Pemberton was convicted but pardoned by President Rodrigo Duterte). We can think of the politics of pinkwashing in the figuration of Tel Aviv as a queer city in the middle of the escalating conflict between Israel and Palestine. We can think of the contradictions brought about by the now postponed Hong Kong Gay Games as it finds itself entangled in the larger politics of a city positioning itself as both an international hub and China’s special administrative region. We can think of queer Asian-Americans as they contend with the increase in racialized attacks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
   The seminar thus seeks to explore the double meaning of “Queer Asia in Crisis.” On the one hand, we seek to examine how the recent global and regional crises produced emergent forms of queer texts and practices in Queer Asia. On the other hand, taking a leaf from David Eng, Jack Halberstam and Jose Esteban Muñoz’s seminal piece “What’s So Queer About Queer Studies Now?” (2005), we position “Queer Asia” as a term that too is in crisis. Put another way, we hope to ask: in the face of widespread social unrest, economic inequality, and death, where can we possibly locate the radicalizing potential of “Queer Asia” as an interpretive approach and an ethics of transgression and possibility? 
Organizer: Joseph Boisvere
Co-Organizer: Yu-yun Hsieh
Ample work has been done in the past decades that analyzes orientalist depictions of East Asia in western science fiction and fantasy film, television, and literature, and there also been an emerging discourse on depictions of a western settings, characters, and culture in East Asian media and literature. This panel invites scholars to share their work on East Asian speculative fiction that imagines a Western other. Especially relevant are those works that mirror popular Western renditions of East Asian alterity, for example, depictions of western political figures in Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem and the stunning interpretation of the setting of Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, or the hybrid aesthetic of Star Wars: Visions. As we discuss the poetics of East depicting West, are the formal or representational practices themselves commensurate with these same practices of the West’s representation of the East but simply with different political valences, stakes, or inflections? Or are these essentially different processes which are themselves shaped by historical and political conditions? We invite discussion of aesthetics and poetics of such works, but also production and adaptation studies, as well as translation studies. Scholars who interrogate East Asian science fiction and fantasy in terms of their social, cultural, and historical dynamics are also welcome to share their work on our panel.
Organizer: Amândio Reis
In Death of a Discipline, Gayatri Spivak addresses the problematic identification between “literature” and the novel form in conventional approaches within comparative literature (2005: 123), voicing a concern with our general blindness to non-hegemonic literary forms similar to the consternation frequently shown in short fiction theory and criticism toward the enduring novel-centrism of literary studies. This seminar aims to bring together scholars with an interest in examining this topic and the different ways in which it may or may not extend to the field of world literature. The goal of this seminar is not to look at the short story and other genres of short fiction, once again, in stark opposition to the novel. Rather, it invites papers that interrogate this notion from other angles and explore the underestimated potential of short fiction as a cosmopolitan form, focusing on its own ability to tell an alternative history of literary circulation.
   Historically, the question of length has been the subject of a contentious debate in many theories of short fiction. But while “shortness” is undoubtedly an insufficient and an all-too limiting and quantitative criterion, it is also, in the simplest sense, what makes the short story a highly portable and translatable form. With its ability to easily navigate distinct narrative registers, subgenres, styles, and literary traditions, the short story’s inherent movable nature is reflected in the rapidity and abundance of its publication. It often circulates in both literary and non-specialized sources which are more volatile and transmissible than books, such as journals, pamphlets, academic and cultural periodicals, and, increasingly, digital outlets such as websites, blogs, and online magazines. Also, typically faster to translate than longer forms like the novel, as well as easier to translate than more semantically and structurally complex forms like poetry, the short story is widely disseminated in translation in edited anthologies that frequently aim to introduce their readers to unknown and/or previously untranslated works.
   However, the short story is also a migrant or a traveling form even within its linguistic and geo-cultural world, often appearing in collections that promote, for example, the concept of a “Lusophone,” an “Anglophone,” or a “Francophone short story.” Considering the diversity that characterizes the many genres of short fiction and very short fiction, some of the topics we hope to explore in this seminar include: the literary and non-literary routes of the short story, both in translation and in the original; the history of the genre and its connection to literary as well as socio-cultural transformations; the short story as a global and/or local form; reception theory and the transnational genres and styles of short fiction; “worlding” the short story and reexamining its impact in comparative and world literature.
Organizer: Smaran Dayal
This seminar is concerned with a very straightforward question: What is the place of  speculative and science fiction in imagining alternatives to the oppressive orders of life in colonial modernity? How might we best understand the complex conceptual and political work carried out by literary Afrofuturism (Lavendar III & Yaszek 2020), Africanfuturism (Okorafor 2019), Indigenous futurism (Dillion 2012), feminist and queer SF (Lothian 2018), progressive science fiction from the global South, and other liberatory strands of speculative fiction?
   This panel welcomes papers on authors as varied as—but not limited to—Nnedi Okorafor, Tade Thompson, Louise Erdrich, Claire G. Coleman, Begum Rokeya, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, Samuel R. Delany, N.K. Jemisin, Nino Cipri, Sameem Siddiqui, Omar El Akkad, P. Djèlí Clark, Akwaeke Emezi, Manish Melwani, Masande Ntshanga, Vandana Singh, Colson Whitehead, Chang-Rae Lee, Ling Ma, Cherie Dimaline, Ahmed Saadawi, Karen Tei Yamashita, and Daniel H. Wilson. Of particular interest is how we might understand the relationship of speculative and science fiction to post- and decolonial thought, abolitionist imaginaries, and non-Western and Indigenous cosmologies. Particular attention to questions of genre, form, authorship, and the political function of literature are emphatically welcomed.
*   The term "decolonial" is used here to refer to a multiplicity of theoretical and political approaches oriented against (settler) colonialism, white supremacy, and the afterlives of slavery, and is not limited to the decoloniality paradigm born out of Latin American Subaltern Studies.
Organizer: Jerrine Tan
Co-Organizer: Claire Gullander-Drolet
Many distinguished auteurs have frequently adapted from acclaimed novels: Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick are two such famous adapters (Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers On A Train, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, to name a few). More contemporarily, we have Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, adapted from a French graphic novel by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette. As comic books increasingly become the foundation for ever-growing cinematic universes (Marvel and DC), so do we get a proliferation of “canon” and “noncanonical” narratives, and as many boycotters decrying “bad adaptation!” as we do diehard fans.
      The OED defines adaptation as the act of making (a person or thing) suitable or for a specific purpose; it can also mean to rework something to fit a new purpose or to a different context or environment. Inherent in the action of adapting, then, is the suggestion of molding the original work to become less jarring, less of itself—to smooth out its edges and sand out its kinks so as to better fit a new context. Considered from this perspective, while adaptation may facilitate a greater reach of artworks—and greater diversity and accessibility by extension-- it also constitutes a loss.
      This double bind is nowhere more visible than our contemporary film climate, where adapted works have often played a pivotal role in fostering international artistic exchange whilst also functioning as pressure points for the uneven power dynamics (national, racial, linguistic, gendered) that underpin the global cinematic marketplace more broadly. Adaptations encapsulate something of the paradoxical desires for greater diversity in the cultural objects that we consume: on the one hand, the desire for more narratives from outside of one’s context, on the other, the seeming need to localize such narratives in order to make them legible and digestible, adapting them for local audiences and to local contexts to accommodate tastes and appetites in order to sell. To this end, we ask: how might adaptation serve as a bridge for—or otherwise make visible—the gap between the foreign and the local, what’s outside and what’s within, what is familiar and what is strange? What are the political stakes of these dislocations, particularly when the national and linguistic contexts in question fall outside the dominant few? When and on what terms is an adaptation successful? What are the implications when we speak of the “faithfulness” of adaptations? And what might “bad” adaptations teach us about the exigencies of international visibility?
     We invite papers that engage creatively with any aspect of adaptation and transnational exchange, including, but by no means limited to:
  • The narrative affordances (and limitations) of adaptation as an artistic medium
  • Transmedial adaptations
  • The transnational circulation of adaptive works
  • Adaptations that invoke a logic of “minor transnationalism”
  • Intersections between adaptation and translation
  • Bad adaptations

MLA Sessions

Session 106: "Multilingualism and the Bangladeshi Literary Culture." Thursday, 6 January, 3:30 PM-4:45 PM, SILVER LINDEN (Marriott Marquis)
Organizer: Asif Iqbal,  Michigan State University