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Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 8, 2014: NeMLA Follow Ups: More Inspiring Voices

[About a month ago, I spent a wonderful weekend in Harrisburg for the 2014 Northeast MLA (NeMLA) Conference. As always, I came away inspired on a number of levels, and in this series I’ll share some of the conversations and voices that contributed to that inspiration. And in the weekend post, I’ll let you know how you can add your own voice and perspective to NeMLA as we move forward!]
On three of the many impressive and inspiring AmericanStudies panels I attended at NeMLA.
1)      Masculinity in the Transatlantic World: I attended this seminar to support my Fitchburg State colleague Michael Hoberman, who was talking about letters from an early American Jewish businessman to his son. But I was very impressed by all seven of the presenters and their distinct yet interconnected focal points: James Francis on political pamphlets and Christopher Marlowe; Ingrid Steiner on William Byrd II’s journals; Jackie Amorim on the Trinidadian novel Emmanuel Appadocca; Anthony Brano and Jarred Wiehe on Thomas Otway’s plays; and Liam Daley on King Lear. The seminar was transnational and interdisciplinary in the best ways, and I learned a great deal from the conversation.
2)      Race and Reception: My longtime Twitter buddy Luke Dietrich organized and chaired this panel, and presented some of his very interesting research on Charles Chesnutt’s relationship with Houhgton Mifflin and the publishing industry. But the panel also featured Pierce Williams on technology, race and ethnicity, and America in Twain’s Connecticut Yankee; and Cecilia Cardenas-Navia on the histories, literatures, and controversial debates over melanin sciences and racial identities. Luke’s paper helped me continue to think about a topic that has interested me since my own dissertation work; the other two pushed my ideas in radically new directions. Pretty good conference combination!
3)      21st Century Representations of Slavery: I’ll admit it: if you put 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained, and David Bradley’s Chaneysville Incident in a paper title, as did Victoria Chevalier, I’m there. But Victoria’s provocative paper (which focused for time reasons mostly on 12 Years) was perfectly complemented by Joseph Vogel on the confessions of William Styron and Quentin Tarantino, Tristan Striker on tradition and memory in August Wilson, and Nicholas Forster on slavery and place in Kendrick Lamar’s contemporary hip hop. Hard to imagine a more inspiring AmericanStudies quartet than those four papers!
Last follow up tomorrow,
PS. Thoughts on these topics? If you were at the conference, other NeMLA follow ups?

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