2014 Call for Papers

This page is updated frequently as we receive changes. Check back often.

The 2014 informal convention theme is: The Lives of Cities.

CALL FOR PAPERS – 2014 MMLA Conference:

The Midwest Modern Language Associate invites proposals for the 2014 conference, which will take place in Detroit, MI, November 13-16, 2014. Although papers are accepted on any topic, we welcome participants to consider this year’s theme, “The Lives of Cities,” as a rich field of inquiry. Proposals may be for individual papers, for Special Sessions focused on the conference theme, or for complete panels that do not necessarily tie to the conference theme (see below for more details); there are also a number of Permanent Sessions, whose specific CFPs continue to be updated on the MMLA website.

“The Lives of Cities” is meant to gesture broadly towards the experiences of urban inhabitants in all aspects and phases of urban development—from the very beginnings of urbanization throughout the globe to the resuscitation of contemporary urban landscapes decimated by industrial flight. Papers might consider the (sometimes competing) narratives of the development of individual cities, of urban space planning generally, of waves of migration into and out of cities, of the lived experiences of urban inhabitants. Topics could include, but are not limited to:

urban development/decline/gentrification/renewal/regeneration
economic fluctuations: poverty, wealth, and class conflicts
wheeling and dealing
industrial growth and change
labor migrations into, and suburban flight from, the city
the physical city: architecture, urban planning, transportation, parks/playgrounds
urban farming
city vs. country: exalting or escaping the city
suburbs, exurbs, and beyond
ruins, past and present
the city as destination
fantasies of urban life
exploring the city: flânerie, urban tourism
public and private spaces
gendered and queer urban spaces 
crowds and solitude
anonymity and identity
the city in history: the mediaeval city, the Renaissance city, the Victorian city, etc.
the life of a specific city
urban art movements
public art
the city in music, visual arts, or literature
the city and modernity/postmodernity
the multicultural city
terror and the city
the urban, or the city, as trope

Abstracts of approximately 250 words should include the following identifying information: your name, institutional affiliation, email address, and paper title; in addition, to facilitate scheduling, please identify up to three of the following categories in which your paper may be most usefully placed:

American Literature, Comparative Studies, English Literature, French Literature, Genre Studies, German Literature, Hispanic Literatures, Interdisciplinary Approaches, Italian Literature, Language Studies, Other Languages & Literatures, Teaching, Medieval, Renaissance/Early Modern, Eighteenth Century, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century, Contemporary Literature, Colonial, Post-Colonial, Travel, the Midwest/Rust-Belt.

The deadline for all individual paper proposals, as well as for proposals for complete panels that are not directly tied to the conference theme, is May 15. Individual and panel proposals should be submitted directly to the MMLA office via email ( Once accepted, individual papers will be organized into sessions. Panel proposals should be submitted as a unit, including paper titles and abstracts, as well as title, affiliation, and full contact information for all participants, clearly identifying the panel chair.

Proposals for Special Sessions that focus on the conference theme in some way are also welcome. These do not require identification of a full slate of papers but instead, if accepted, assume that the session organizer will serve as panel chair (who may also give a paper). Accepted Special Session calls will be posted on the MMLA website and will require that the organizer receive proposals directly and vet them to build the full panel. Special Session proposals are due April 21 via email (

The MMLA website will also contain postings for individual CFPs for the Permanent Sessions that run annually. (These CFPs are typically tied to some version of the conference theme.) Check the website regularly for additions to these calls. .


The following list contains call for papers for:

Professionalizing Workshops

The Professionalizing workshops will be posted in the Spring.


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Permanent Sections

The MMLA Convention always runs panels in the following categories (historic, generic, regional). Individual CFPs for these panels—generally tied to the annual theme—are posted by panel chairs. Check back regularly for updates to these calls.

African Literature
African American Literature

Co-chairs: Tiffany Austin, André S. Johnson

“April in Paris”: African American Expatriate Writers
Globalization has become the oft cited contemporary concept for engaging with our ever
more intimate world through interconnectivity partly brought on by advances through internet
technology. But what about the experiences of those black writers who were physically
travelling abroad to experience the world before these resources became available? Whether
they emigrated for political, economic, artistic, or personal reasons, expatriation affected many
black writers of note in subject matter and influence. Whether through forced or self-exile, from
a sense of cosmopolitanism or artistic freedom, these writers, artists and intellectuals expanded
the notions of blackness and left behind works that force us to investigate what it meant and
means to enter a "new" home.

We request papers that deal with black writers’ relationship to old and new homes as part
of their journey to foreign cities. Examining the pull of black writers to France’s “passion” for
all art “black,” panels could focus on Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, James
Baldwin, and Richard Wright. Other black expatriate writers who could be considered include
Chester Himes, Frank Yerby, Nella Larsen, William Gardner Smith, and even more
contemporary writers. Within panels, discussants may want to examine the themes of home,
exile, abandonment, isolationism, community, identity politics, and migratory subject hood.

Send papers to:

American Literature I: Literature Before 1870
American Literature II: Literature After 1870

Topic: Hospitality and the City

This panel seeks papers on American fiction/film/drama/poetry  1870-present addressing the theme of the city as host, or, forms of hospitality in the city, individual or collective.  My starting point is Jacques Derrida’s argument that within the notion of hospitality there is a fundamental and irrevocable tension between the act of being hospitable (an action which serves to maintain host/hosted hierarchies) and what he calls “impossible hospitality,” a welcoming of any and all that implicitly demands a kind of non-mastery, even a potential relinquishing of ownership and property.   

All papers are welcome that addresses any aspect of this theme, broadly conceived (though as “host” I can only accept 3-4!) Possible topics: Theories of hospitality (Derridean or other),  The narrator as “host,”  memorable fictional hosts or guests, The mapping of city borders,  Hotels,  Alarm systems,  Border control, Immigration, Occupy.

Send 250 word abstracts and brief bio to Mark Schiebe at by May 1st

Animals in Literatue and Film

Chair: Stacy Hoult-Saros, Associate Professor of Spanish, Valparaiso University

This session welcomes papers on the lives of urban animals in literature and film. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, urban migration (country animals in the city); working animals in the urban environment; petkeeping in the city; animals in public and private urban spaces; and the impact of poverty, wealth and class conflict on animals.

Applied Linguistics

Chair: Dr. Peter Wuteh Vakunta, University of Indianapolis

Perceptions of cognitive ability, or lack thereof, are often deeply interwoven with attitudes toward language, and accents within a particular linguistic community characterized by diglossia.  Preferential linguistic profiling harbors wide-ranging ramifications for second language acquisition. This panel seeks papers that address the question of linguistic profiling and second/foreign language teaching and/or learning.
Please, submit a 250-word abstract along with your full names, institutional affiliation, contact details (email and phone) and paper title to Dr. Vakunta ( by May 15, 2014.

Art What Thou Eat

Topic: Open
We welcome papers that explore all aspects of the representation of food in literature, art, music, film, and culture. 
Please send a 250-word abstract to Eloise Sureau, Butler University, Abstracts received by May 15, 2014 will be ensured full consideration.
Chair: Eloise Sureau, Butler University,
Secretary: Arline Cravens, Saint Louis University,

Bibliography and Textual Studies
Canadian Literature

This permanent section welcomes papers on any aspect of Canadian Literature.  Proposals related to the conference theme of "The Lives of Cities" are strongly encouraged; however, this theme can be broadly interpreted.  Please email 250-word abstracts and CV by June 28, 2014, to DeLisa Hawkes,

Central American Literature
Central American Literature and the Environment:
An Eco-critical Approach to Life in The Production Zones

Submit papers to

In the introduction to his edited work The Natural World in Latin America: Eco-critical Essays on Twentieth Century Writing (2010), Adrian Taylor Kane states that despite the presence of the natural world in Latin American literature from colonial times to the present, “environmental criticism of Latin American cultural production has been slower to take root” (XX). Although Kane’s observation is valid, it should be added that for many Latin American writers, and especially authors in the twentieth century, the environment has always been an integral part of their works whether as a trope, a theme or a character itself. An excellent example is the emergence of the so-called “novelas bananeras” in Central America’s literary production. These narratives documented the disproportionate exploitation of natural resources by transnationals in the region, and graphically denounced the negative effects of plantations on the natural world and the human element. A recurrent trope in these narratives is, however, the emergence of the “bananera” zones and towns, together with a slice of what life was like as a native of the region or as a foreign functionary within the system of the banana company.

This panel will examine the relationship between Central American literature and the environment focusing particularly, but not limited to, life in the production zones, cities, towns and/or communities. Papers should generally be framed within one or more of the following questions:  What and how literature reveals about the dynamics of life, and the interconnection between dwellers and the environment? What does the narrative tell about the present reality of banana zones and countries? What are the literary devices that the author resorts to for social, political and environmental denunciation? What is their aesthetic value? How has the relationship between the natural world, production and peoples shifted in these zones, countries, cities and towns since their inception from the transnational production that has dominated the region? How should these texts be read today when transnational corporations continue to shape the economies and landscapes of the regions? Do they speak to modern critiques of current transnational economies? Papers may be written in either English or Spanish.


Children's Literature

We welcome papers that examine all aspects of children's literature and childhood studies. Papers that address the informal convention theme of "The Lives of the Cities" are encouraged, though this theme may be broadly interpreted. Possible topics may include, but are not limited to, children living and/or working in urban settings; immigration narratives; urban kids' experiences of racial and class conflicts, or children's views and interpretations of urban landscapes. 

Please send 250-word abstracts to Megan Musgrave at by May 15, 2014.  


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Comparative Literature -
Creative Writing I: Poetry
Creative Writing II: Prose - Section A
Creative Writing II: Prose - Section B
Digital Humanities

The Digital Lives of Cities

In Programmed Visions, Wendy Chun suggests that “the call to map may be the most
obscuring of all: by constantly drawing connections between data points, we sometimes
forget that the map should be the beginning, rather than the end, of the analysis” (177).
With this year’s MMLA conference theme of “The Lives of Cities,” the second annual
permanent section of digital humanities will explore criticisms of, experiments with, and
provocations on mapping, geographic visualization, or other conceptions of urban space
that work with or against the digital. Possible topics/projects include:
 historical approaches to mapping and visualization
 absence, silence, and (in)visibility in maps
 mapping difference (class, race, gender, and accessibility)
 critical visual literacies
 remediations and reconceptualizations of space
 mobile technologies and city life (e.g. augmented reality, geotagging, location-based
social media platforms)
 political and disciplinary dimensions of mapping technologies
 pedagogical purposes of community/city mapping projects
 endangered and indigenous languages

Please send 250-word abstracts by May 31st to both Josh Honn (
and Rachael Sullivan (

Co-chairs: Josh Honn (Northwestern University) and Rachael Sullivan (University of

English I: English Literature Before 1800
English II: English Literature 1800-1900

Topic: The City and the Aesthetic

From William Wordsworth’s “Upon Westminster Bridge” to William Morris’s horror at modern cityscapes, from the craze for Aesthetic housewares to debates over working-class access to art museums, the nineteenth-century city presented both aesthetic problems and aesthetic opportunities. How did urbanization transform both the aesthetic experiences that were available and the categories through which these experiences were understood? Implicit in this question is a recognition that the city may provide an especially fertile ground for exploring negative aesthetic reactions like distaste or disgust, which remain comparatively under-theorized.

Papers that approach “The City and the Aesthetic” through the lens of perception, affect, or pleasure are welcome, as are papers that connect aesthetics to politics, consumption, or class.

Send abstracts to Julia Bninski ( by May 31. Abstracts should be approximately 250-500 words. Please provide the following information: your name, institutional affiliation, email address, and paper title.

English III: English Literature After 1900

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Fabricating the Body

This year’s Fabricating the Body panel is soliciting proposals for papers that explore the notion of the lives of cities. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, lived experiences of urban inhabitants; the body as it relates to cosmopolitanism or economic fluctuations (poverty, wealth, and class conflicts); or the relationship of the body to the city historically: the mediaeval city, the Renaissance city, the Victorian city, etc. We are interested in papers that study such topics from any theoretical perspective. Textual analysis of any genre or time period is welcome.

Please send 250 word abstracts by May 31st to panel chair, Sarah Burcon,

Film I

The Serial Killer in Film and Television

Please submit 250 word abstracts to Dr. Matthew Bowman at by May 15th 2014.

It seems that there has been an uptick in a fascination with serial killers; it is as if they are being pursued in an almost serial fashion. One film after another television show after yet another remake of another film about serial killers appears at an exponential rate as of late.

From 20/20 kinds of shows, to films like The Silence of the Lambs and Zodiac, to television series like Dexter or The Following, the figure of the secretive psychopath taking lives has become more than just an antagonist or antihero or plot device. What is with this fascination? What might we discern based on how representations or images of the serial killer in film and television evolve and proliferate? What secrets might a television show like Twin Peaks reveal?  This panel will explore what Dr. Hannibal Lecter might call an obsessive compulsion towards the serial killer and that brand of psychopathology. What might an obsession over films and television shows that showcase the ever-evolving serial killer suggest? In contrast, how might we understand the form of film and television through the eyes of a serial killer, as it were?

Film II
Film III
French I: Advent of the Ancient Regime

French II: Post Ancien Régime
Panel Chair : Sylvie Goutas
Contact Information: Dr. Goutas                                                     
Wheaton College   (630) 752-5794
Foreign Language Department
501 College Ave
Wheaton, IL 60187

French Literature, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century.

Mouvement et modernité à Paris dans la prose romanesque postrévolutionnaire
Tant dans la littérature panoramique que le roman s’affirme à partir du XIXe siècle une tendance à montrer Paris et sa population en mouvement, un mouvement temporel et spatial qui va s’accélérant et en rythme la modernité. La pertinence de ce mouvement, dû aux transformations charriées par la Révolution industrielle, sa répercussion sur l’existence et l’écriture, plusieurs auteurs les ont cernées, qui évoquent à leur manière l’incidence de son accélération sur l’être et le devenir de leurs personnages. Outre cette tendance, et comme le souligne Paule Petitier, « Paris envahit la scène et se substitue à l’espace national ». Il  en devient l’épicentre alors même que la notion de centre n’a plus lieu d’être du fait de la multiplicité de ces mouvements. De ce fait, il est possible de considérer que la représentation romanesque du mouvement et du personnage en mouvement s’organise au moins autour de deux fonctions, l’une consistant à exprimer et à fonder symboliquement la modernité spécifique à  Paris, l’autre à échapper à ces mêmes limitations pour appréhender celle d’un espace plus vaste, celui de la nation française. Pris dans les rets de cette modernité parisienne, qu’advient-il du personnage romanesque ? Comment son existence et son identité se forment-elles ou se déforment-elles au gré de ces tendances ? Quels sont les enjeux de ces différentes modalités ?  C’est à ces quelques questions que les participants de cette séance s’offriront entre autres de répondre.


French III: Cultural Issues

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Gender Studies: Male
German Literature and Culture I
German Literature and Culture II: German Language Poetry
German Women Writers

Topic: Open

We are seeking papers which deal with the literary texts and lives of German-speaking women writers from any period and in any genre. Papers that address the informal Convention theme of “The Lives of the Cities” are especially welcome. Please submit 250-word abstracts and 50-word bio blurb as email attachments to both Dr. Ekaterina Pirozhenko, and Dr. Katarzyna Kowalczyk by May 31, 2014.

History of Critical Reception

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Illustrated Texts

Topic: Illustrated Texts and Cities

This section welcomes papers that examine illustrated texts of any period or genre, especially in
relation to the conference theme, “The Lives of Cities.” Possible topics might include, but are not
limited to: the industry of textual illustrations; the public-private relationship between author and
illustrator; geographical or metropolitan illustrations; the disparity between textual editions; the
architecture of illustrated texts; and illustration as spatialized site. Visual, multimedia
presentations are especially encouraged.

Please send 250-word abstracts by May 30th to Joshua M. Murray,

Chair: Joshua M. Murray, Kent State University

International Francophone Studies

La ville dans la littérature et le cinéma francophones

De Gaston Bachelard et sa Poétique de l’espace, à Bertrand Wesphal et la géocritique en passant par Henri Lefebvre et la philosophie de l’espace social ou encore des oppositions de Raymond Williams dans The Country and the City à l’écocritique et aux études de l’environnement de ces dernières années, la ville et les représentations littéraires ou cinématographiques de la ville ne cessent de fasciner écrivains, réalisateurs et chercheurs.  Cette session invite des propositions qui traiteront de l’urbanisation et des représentations de la ville dans la littérature et le cinéma francophones.  Que la ville soit perçue comme espace privilégié de domination néocoloniale; endroit de rencontres et de promesse; centre de communication, de modernité, d’ouverture au cosmopolitisme ou encore lieu de perdition, de tentation et de fausses promesses, centre monstrueux créateur d’anonymité, comment l’espace urbain est-il personifié, critiqué, réapproprié, déconstruit ou reconstruit par l’écriture ou le film francophone?  Merci d’adresser votre proposition de communication d’environ 250 mots avant le 1er juin 2014 à Véronique Maisier à


Irish Studies

Fulcro della vita municipale nel Medioevo, asse della riflessione umanistica sulla vita degli uomini rispetto al loro ambiente, luogo distopico di corruzione e peccato dalla Controriforma in poi, elemento dispensatore di successo e fallimento nel corso del lungo Ottocento e infine luogo di alienazione e di lotta nel Novecento, la città ha sempre avuto un ruolo privilegiato negli otto secoli di letteratura italiana. La rappresentazione letteraria, pittorica e cinematografica ha fatto della città il luogo ideale per la delineazione del campo di forze che costituiscono l’esistenza umana: teatro delle tragedie e dei successi dei grandi e degli uomini comuni, luoghi artistici e di tensione sociale, le città hanno incarnato prima e durante la modernità, i luoghi per eccellenza del progresso sociale e tecnologico, del confronto fra le classi e di successo per gli individui.
Questo panel si propone di indagare la funzione e la rappresentazione della città dal Medioevo al Duemila quattordici, con particolare attenzione al valore transculturale e interdisciplinare che il soggetto permette: com’è stata rappresentata la città italiana, straniera e immaginaria dagli autori della letteratura italiana? Si invitano papers in grado d’interrogarsi sui luoghi letterari e teorici fondamentali della rappresentazione della città in tutte le epoche della letteratura italiana.


Gli abstracts, di circa 250 parole, devono includere queste informazioni: nome e cognome, affiliazione accademica, indirizzo email e il titolo del paper. Send to:

Literary Criticism

Where is the discourse presently located surrounding literary celebrity?  What are critics saying about literary celebrity and what does this phenomenon mean to these scholars?  How do critical assessments of literary celebrity determine what authors get read and how we read their work?  This panel will consider how scholars are assessing authorial fame today.  Are their analyses biographical, materialist, formalist, feminist, queer, sociological?  How do critics contextualize literary celebrity?  Through social or political movements, popular culture, literary periods, national or geographical spaces (thinking here about “the living city”)?  And what do these critical methodologies tell us about the meaning of literary celebrity?  How do these approaches affect the ways in which we read celebrity authors?  In asking these questions, we might think about texts such as Loren Glass' Authors Inc. or Lorraine York's Margaret Atwood and the Labour of Literary Celebrity, among others.  Panelists are encouraged to think about the possibilities, problems, meanings, and politics to be found in these methodologies and what they tell us about literary celebrity and the literature we read.

Please send abstracts by May 15th, 2014 to Jim Hayden, University of Missouri-Columbia at

Luso-Brazilian Studies
The Mezzuzah and the Mestizaje

2014 Chair: Joanna Mitchell, Ohio University

We invite submissions on all aspects of Jewish life and creativity in Latin America. In 2014 we particularly encourage paper proposals addressing the informal conference theme on “The Lives of Cities.” Possible topics include but are not limited to:

-Jewish immigrants in the cities of Latin America;
-Re-writing “La cuidad letrada” in Hebrew, Ladino, and Yiddish;
-The City and La Pampa, patterns of Jewish immigration.
-Photographing Jewish cityscapes;
Jewish heritage tourism in Latin America;
-Cityscapes of terror and cityscapes of welcome;
-Imagining the Jewish Latin American city;
-The city of the dead: Jewish cemeteries in Latin America

In the spirit of interdisciplinarity, we accept papers from all academic disciplines.

Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words to Joanna Mitchell ( by June 1, 2014.


Modern Literature

This panel calls for papers devoted to works and authors from the 20th and 21st centuries. Preference will be given to papers exploring the conference theme of the lives of cities, especially as it pertains to the city and modernity. If, for modernists, the city becomes the site of aesthetic experience, how does urban space cultivate these experiences? How does the city enable modernist visions of urban landscapes? How do the various networks of urban life contribute to modernity? Please send 250-word abstracts by May 15th to the section chair, Katie Dyson, Loyola University Chicago, .


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Multicultural Literature in the Classroom: Politics and Pedagogy

Because “Life in the City” is rapidly changing, our pedagogy and politics in regard to multicultural literature is rapidly changing as well. Historically, multicultural literature has been studied so students can gain insight into the lives and times of various people groups who may been relegated to marginal or disenfranchised places in our culture, but more now than ever, because of increased urbanization multicultural literature is the literature of the changing face of both city and rural life. Through studying multicultural literature in regard to “life in the city,” our students can learn from each other and from the various cultures and people groups with whom we are in contact on a daily basis. Urbanization in all its forms has greatly impacted whose works we teach and how we teach them.

Papers for this panel will closely investigate the ways in which the politics and pedagogy of multicultural literature impact students and teachers in our American cities. Please send an abstract of 250 words or less to Corby Roberson at by June 1, 2014.

Native American Literature
Old and Middle English Language and Literature
Peace Literature and Pedagogy

Peace studies are more than merely avoiding conflict. They are on-going processes with goals
linked to resolving conflict and/or establishing social justice. Inside cities, conflicting forces and
ideas abound. How can peace studies exist and prosper in cityscapes? What kind of peace
resolutions exists within the city limits? Are those iterations different from those found rural
areas? How do class, politics, religion, race, and gender find a type of resolution inside city
lines? How do suburbs and exurbs fit into the picture? This call invites papers on literature or
teaching that addresses any of these topics or examines constructs of peacemaking in the lives of
cities. Please note that this session is also open to other aspects of peace literature, peace
pedagogy, justice, and conflict resolution.

Please submit a 250-word abstract, along with your name, institution, email information, and
paper title to Dr. Laura Ng (, University of North Georgia by May 15, 2014.
Please submit electronically via email.

Chair: Dr. Laura Ng (, University of North Georgia.

Popular Culture

In “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” Georg Simmell famously wrote, in 1903, that “[t]he psychological foundation, upon which the metropolitan individuality is erected, is the intensification of emotional life due to the swift and continuous shift of external and internal stimuli.” While the metropolitan scenes observed by Simmell look quite different from the ones we observe today, the city remains a site of consistent change. This session invites proposals for papers on the theme of urban life, broadly defined,  in any aspect of popular culture from any region or period. Papers might draw on representations of urban decline or renewal, economic fluctuations, challenges to notions of the city as concrete jungle, or examples of popular culture that showcase the potential of this clash between interiority and exteriority in contemporary popular culture.

In 2014, do the geographical, temporal, and economic structures that Simmel described maintain relevance, or have they been eclipsed by such technologies as social media, television, video games, and the out-of-time nature of global capitalism more generally? What examples can we locate in popular culture that affirm or deny his claim? How is identity defined in urban spaces? How does popular culture define what a city is?
Please send 250-word abstracts by June 28th to Popular Culture Chairs Andrew Smart and Kate Birdsall at


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Religion and Literature
Science and Fiction
Shakespeare and Shakespearean Criticism

Topic:    Shakespeare of London Again

Sixty-five years ago Marchette Chute’s well-known Shakespeare of London gave us a social panopticon of Shakespeare’s city long before we were outfitted with newer historical lenses.  Now is an opportunity not for revisiting her work but for further understanding of Shakespeare’s relation to the “theatrical city” (eg. geography, social life, changes, law and government, city vs. country,  theatricality and paratheatricality, sport). Topics related to this are preferred, but others welcome. Submit 250 word abstract with very brief bio to  by May 25,   

Short Story
Spanish Cultural Studies
Spanish I: Peninsular Literature Before 1700
Spanish II: Peninsular Literature After 1700
Spanish III: Latin American Literature

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Teaching Graphic Narratives

We invite proposals dealing with the teaching of graphic narratives that explore "the lives of cities." From Gotham to Pyongyang, from Tehran and Abidjan, there is no limit to the real or imagined cities and other urban themes mentioned in the general call for papers, which your presentations could address. Please send a 250-word abstract to Susanna Hoeness-Krupsaw at by 15 May 2014.

Teaching Writing in College
Travel Writing/Writing Travel
Women in Literature

Topic: Gendered Spaces; Gendered Places: Women’s Lives in the City

“Places are not merely discrete, rooted phenomena; they are ever evolving outcomes of socialrelationships that span and link regional, national, and even global geographies” (Altha J. Cravey andMichael Petit, “A Critical Pedagogy of Place:  Learning Through the Body” 108).

In Space, Place and Gender, Doreen Massey rejects the idea that space is fixed and apolitical.  Drawing in part on Marxist feminists, she posits instead that “space is constituted through social relations and material social practices” (254).  Not only is space constructed through the social for Massey, but the converse is also true:  “the social is spatially constructed too, and that makes a difference…in its broadest formulation, society is necessarily constructed spatially, and that fact—the spatial organization of society—makes a difference to how it works” (254). In other words, the spaces we inhabit produce the societies in which we live—all the while the societies in which we live socially construct the spaces we inhabit. This establishes the kind of web of intra-action between humans and others that can be traced through the recent theoretical work of Donna Haraway and new materialist feminists like Karan Barad and Stacy Alaimo. It also holds major implications for thinking about how spaces and places are active in women’s lives and women’s literature.
Using the concept of spaces and places as active participants in the lives of humans, and in accordance with the conference’s theme of “The Lives of Cities,” this panel seeks papers that explore the issues of space and place in women’s literary texts. Possible topics may include, but are not limited to: gendered spaces and/or places, queer spaces, metaphorical spaces, urban autobiography and/or memoir, representations of gender within the space/place of a narrative, globalization and gender, historical representations of urban spaces in women’s literature, issues of performance and performativity in relation to urban space, and place-based approaches to teaching women’s literature.

Please submit 250-word abstracts and a brief 100-word bio to Meg Gregory at by May 9th, 2014.

Writing Across the Curriculum
Young Adult Literature


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Associated Organizations

American Dialect Society
The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment
The Henry James Society
The International Harold Pinter Society
International Raymond Carver Society


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Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature

MMLA, Detroit, November 13-16, 2014
Contact:  Marilyn Judith Atlas (

Title of Session: Urban Spaces and Midwestern Literature
Submission requirement: Title, short vita, and one page abstract

Deadline for submissions:  25 May 2014

Description:  How do Midwestern writers explore urban space? Are urban spaces wastelands and/or wonderlands? How do narratives of urban spaces compete within the boundaries of one text? Or how do they compete between texts? Are Midwest urban spaces regional, national or global? Is anything unique about the literary exploration of Midwest urban spaces?


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Women in French I
Women in French II

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Special Sessions

Interested members of the MMLA are invited to submit proposals to for CFPs for panels based on the conference theme. Accepted calls will be posted here and will require that the organizer receive proposals directly and vet them to build the full panel.