NeMLA 2019: Women and Activism: An Assembly of Words, Bodies, and Creativity

Asmaa Alshehri's picture
Call for Papers
March 21, 2019
United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, American History / Studies, Literature, Native American History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Prior to the 20th century and until this moment in history, American women as an ensemble have challenged the political, social, economic, and religious systems that demote humans based on race, gender, ethnicity, sex, religion, class, or even political affiliations. Recently, on January 20, 2018, women assembled and marched for justice, equality, and humanity.In her 2016 book titled Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, Judith Butler suggests,

…when bodies assemble… in [any] forms of public space (including virtual ones) they are exercising a plural and performative right to appear [and deliver] a bodily demand for a more livable set of economic, social, and political conditions no longer afflicted by induced forms of precarity. (11) 

In their attempt to make a difference through “exercising a plural and performative right to [plural and bodily] appear,” women from different backgrounds and ethnicities have engaged in peaceful resistant acts including demonstrations, marches, boycotts, andacts of civil disobedience. Many women activists’ concerted actions have exceeded protesting on the streets to performing the act of assembly through literature, art, music, films, etc. 

This panel aims to analyze the distinct experience of American women activists and the implications of their activism on the national and global communities prior to, throughout, and beyond the 20th century.

How does American women’s documented activism achieve more than just narrating and recording? How does writing assist the existing and continuing movement of American women’s activism? What approaches and ways do female activists employ to create the bodily assembly as set forth by Butler? Activists’ life-writing plays a key role in introducing new generations to the activism of former generations. How is this writing utilized to achieve the performative act of assembly? How do concerted actions associated with writing, films, art, and music transform or initiate change in our world? How are plural acts including writing and art still important in resisting the unjust in the current age? 

This panel welcomes submissions that engage with the US literature, music, film and/or art.

All submissions must be through Deadline for abstracts is September 30, 2018.