EVENT Mar 05
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Writing Mothers: Maternal Subjectivity in Literature (NeMLA 2020)

Boston, MA
Organization: Northeast Modern Language Association
Event: NeMLA 2020
Categories: Postcolonial, American, Hispanic & Latino, Comparative, British, Gender & Sexuality, Women's Studies, World Literatures, African-American, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Transcendentalists, 1865-1914, 20th & 21st Century, Medieval, Early Modern & Renaissance, Long 18th Century, Romantics, Victorian, 20th & 21st Century, 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: 2020-03-05 to 2020-03-08 Abstract Due: 2019-09-30

While portrayals of mothers and maternal figures in literature abound, there is still much to uncover about literary representations of mothering (the practices embodied by maternal subjects) and motherhood (ideologies and institutions shaped by cultural, political, and legal forces) written by mothers or focalized through maternal perspectives. This roundtable session builds on recent scholarship, such as the special issue of Women: A Culture Review on “Imagining Motherhood in the Twenty-first Century,” and continues the conversation in mothering studies on literary representations of mothering and motherhood by focusing on poetry and prose narrated through maternal perspectives and voices. In Mother Without Child: Contemporary Fiction and the Crisis of Motherhood, Elaine Tuttle Hansen argues, “Motherhood offers women a site of both power and oppression, self-esteem and self-sacrifice, reverence and debasement.” In light of these contradictory states, this roundtable addresses such questions as: How do maternal voices navigate predetermined constructions of mothering and motherhood in their portrayals of maternal subjectivity? How do matrifocal narratives and voices shift or challenge received histories and constructions of race, gender, citizenship, and personhood? What silences are revealed or broken by maternal subjectivities? Proposals that focus on African American, Asian American, Native, Latinx, transgender, lesbian, queer, transnational, immigrant, adoptive, and/or “interrupted” mothers are welcome, as are proposals about mothers with disabilities and/or mothers of color.

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Justine Dymond