CFP: MLA15 "Women on the Wrong Side of History?

"Women on the Wrong Side of History?"  MLA15 Special Session CFP

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In Emma Rothschild’s recent study of what she terms “the inner life of empire,” she uses the microhistory of one family to tell “a story of the multiple or multiplier effects of empire.” Building the case that these “minor figures” were emblematic of “the vast changes of the times.”

How can further research on women on “the wrong side of history” and their literary contributions, material traces, and political work, (broadly defined) contribute to our understanding of literary and cultural sites ranging from the long eighteenth century through the present day?

When we study contested sites of memory, such as the slave economies of the Atlantic or colonial South Asia, how do we negotiate further the study of women on “the wrong side of history”? Into whose histories are we intervening, and how do structural asymmetries continue to impede such negotiations, rendering common ground difficult to find?

Building on past scholarship in recovery projects featuring women writers, and drawing on work in postcolonial and subaltern studies, this panel seeks new approaches to research on women who could be perceived as falling on “the wrong side of history.” Of particular interest are projects that recognize the complexity and ambivalence of these authors and their texts, and avoid understandable inclinations to chastise, ignore, or redact in order to render these figures more acceptable to today’s readers. Possible approaches include, but are not limited to:

  • discussions of either production or content (i.e., women writing as well as representations of women)
  • textual and visual methods of tracking networks involving women in the peripheries of empire and the metropole.
  • reflections on women as strong historical actors—that is, proposals moving beyond (or complicating) emphases on domesticity, or on women’s roles as consumers.

We seek a broad range of approaches, and welcome different formats and scholarly platforms (such as intersections with the digital humanities, network analysis, etc.) Of particular interest are ongoing projects whose topics fall into liminal spaces in terms of their subject, discipline, geographic focus, or methodology.

Abstracts due by 15 March 2014; appx. 300-500 words.

Emily MN Kugler:

Nicole M. Wright:

A shorter version of this CFP is on the MLA Special Sessions CFP page: