“Literature and Post-Political Theory”
MLA 2020 Panel
This MLA panel seeks papers that reflect on the analytical bridges that might exist between post-political theory and literary studies. The main question the panel aims to answer is the following: Decades after everything was declared to be political, what are the affordances, triumphs, and pitfalls of a post-political theory of literature?
The work of theorists of post-politics such as Jacques Rancière, Chantal Mouffe, Ernesto Laclau, Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek, and Erik Swyngedouw among others has exposed the processes by which political action is currently being eroded, sites for its practice are increasingly disappearing, and political agency is in urgent need to be revitalized. At the same time, much post-political critical discourse has concentrated on connecting the saturation and subsequent evacuation of the practice politics to cause meaningful change with the need to formulate new and alternative ways to counteract it.
While post-political theory has featured in analyses traditionally labelled “political” such as studies focusing on gender, environmentalism, postcolonialism, neoliberalism, or racism, a more explicit reflection on the contours, scope, and interpretative value of post-political theory for the study of literary is absent in the critical theory corpus and can offer an important contribution. How can questions concerning representation (textual as well as political) be rethought through this lens? What imaginative processes dovetail political activity and the work of literature? What are the continuities, if any, between political creativity and aesthetics? Papers, then, will aim to offer explorations that, moving beyond “applications” that analyze individual texts, illuminate the ways in which this theoretical apparatus can offer new avenues for the practice of literary studies at large.
Please bear in mind this is a non-guaranteed panel and it is contingent on its acceptance by MLA.
Please submit 250-word abstracts to Juan Meneses (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 15.
Juan Meneses, Ph.D.
Assistant professor, English Department
University of North Carolina, Charlotte