cfp for NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association) panel, 03/15-18/12 - Rochester, NY
Physical illness forces us to confront the reality of the corporeal self at the very moment when physical identity is deteriorating. The personal chaos and confusion that the sick person faces extend beyond the self to a reevaluation of external order and rationality, calling into question accepted social norms and values. Novelists have long recognized the possibilities of “illness as metaphor” as Susan Sontag so well articulated. But physical illness is an embodied presence. As Suzanne Bost writes, the body “is . . . too fundamental to be only a metaphor” [Encarnación. Fordham UP, 2010. 3). Bost recognizes the possibilities in the corporeal nature of illness when she suggests that “illness leads to new forms of identification based on the permeability, suffering, and interdependence of bodies” (5). The significance of this panel is to explore the way in which the sick body, in its erratic and startling engagement with others and its surroundings, is a means of enscribing both individual and communal narratives. The panel, therefore, seeks proposals that examine the representations and implications of sick bodies in both British and American fiction (Victorian / Modern). Areas of exploration may include issues of identity that involve challenges to autonomy and agency; the sick body as debilitating and /or empowering; relationships among the sick, and between the sick and the healthy; the effects of physical transformations on the self and on others; the implications of bodily suppression or expression of pain and suffering, and others. Please send 300 – 400 word proposals and a brief biographical paragraph to Rita Bode, firstname.lastname@example.org. Queries welcome.
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