Archive for January, 2016

Call for proposals: 2017 MLA “Cultural Narratives” Panel

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016


International Society for the Study of Narrative

Philadelphia, January 5-8, 2017

MLA Guaranteed Session

“Cultural Narratives”

A “cultural narrative” is defined not by its structure but by its function, which is to locate time; it

is grounded in the premise that, in this sense, the functions of a narrative are historically specific

and culturally delimited; and it is presumed that historically specific conditions render specific

narratives cogent and others absurd, such that, at any given moment, at any given social site (the

family, the community, the state, the nation), some cogent narratives are tacitly accepted as

universally true, others as viable possibilities, and others as untenable absurdities. Any specific

culture or subculture, therefore, comprises the map of the untenably absurd, the tacitly true, and

the viably cogent, and thus that culture’s imaginative works reflect its cogent narratives and also

are, through acts of iteration and reinforcement, (re)productive of that culture.

In this context, the panel on “Cultural Narratives” seeks papers:

  •  reading specific texts as reflections or interpretations of culture or as negotiating or failing to

negotiate conflicting cultural narratives that vie for cogency at a given historical moment.

  •  Identifying, through an analysis of contemporaneous texts, emerging cultural narratives or

reinterpretations and modifications of existing cultural narratives. (The Hurt Locker, for

example, portrays soldiering as an occupation rather than a movement, reflecting America’s

narrative of global engagement as one about an occupying force rather than asengaged in

wars with fronts, advances, and battles, in the same way that, at the same moment, American

anti-military narratives emerge as occupy activities, not anti-war movements.)

  •  showing how literary texts in any genre theorize the relationship of culture to narrative or

identify the informing cultural narrative in the work of a specific theorist or theoretical text.

(Said’s Beginnings, for example, could be read as reflecting a Palestinian narrative about the

notion of origins and originary claims, and about the acts of power that legitimizes a

  •  looking at performative aspects of narrative by examining, for example, how they constitute

historical and/or ideological subject positions that perpetuate (or undermine) notions of

ethnicity, nation, gender, class, family, health, normality, democracy, education, equality, or

  •  theorizing the concept of “cultural narrative,” situating it in a genealogy or drawing on one of

many theoretical traditions to complicate the concept or extrapolate its implications.

Send 300-word abstract and short bio to by March 8.