Panel at the Northeast Modern Language Association's 54th Annual Convention in Niagara Falls, NY
The creative work of historical fiction brings a prior time and place, one known but unfamiliar, into the present. Jerome de Groot considers one purpose of historical fiction is to “challenge the orthodoxy and potential for dissent [which will] challenge mainstream and repressive narratives.” Its characters and settings represent the cultural issues and struggles of their own time while also asking readers to recognize that many of the same situations still exist and need attention. The social and racial marginalization of women in the United States has been gaining that attention in popular culture outlets, including a recent Saturday Night Live cold open. The recurrence of women’s issues and concerns reflects the resilience of the women who pursue recognition and equality and find a voice in historical literature. Authors of historical fiction novels and films have created characters to question past practices while also challenging current cultural constructs, perhaps that such resilience may, at some point, no longer be necessary.
This session welcomes talks on historical fiction that confronts women’s marginal status or experiences throughout the history of the United States. Consider also texts whose characters challenge a variety of racial and ethnic marginalization. Literature that focuses on issues that continue to be relevant across time presents scholars with opportunities to reveal uncomfortable truths about the American past, discuss their importance in the present, and heighten awareness of the people who persevered against their struggles to fight for change.
Lisa V Mazey