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Friday, April 9, 2021

April 9, 2021: NeMLA Recaps: A Few Other Highlights

[A couple weeks back, NeMLA held our 52nd annual—and first entirely virtual—convention. So this week I’ll highlight a handful of the convention’s stand-out remote events, leading up to some broader reflections on virtual conferences.]

I had the chance to attend a number of other great NeMLA 2021 sessions as an audience member. Here are a few more AmericanStudies-related highlights:

1)      Writing History in 18th and 19th Century Women’s Writing: This excellent panel was organized by my twitter friend Kait Tonti, who also presented brilliantly on the late 18th century Quaker poet Hannah Lawrence Schieffelin’s complex poetic engagements with George Washington’s legacies. While I had never heard of Schieffelin before Kait’s awesome talk, the other two presentations offered an opposite and equally stimulating effect: opening up compelling new angles on familiar authors and histories, Mary Balkun on Phillis Wheatley and the Revolution, and Gailanne Mackenzie on Emily Dickinson’s domestic quarantine (and our own!).

2)      Creative Anxiety in the Works of Shirley Jackson: This panel was personal, in the best sense: Kaitlynn Chase, one of our most talented Fitchburg State English Studies alums, presented a wonderful paper on Eleanor Vance in Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. But while I was there to cheer on Kaitlynn, I also learned a great deal from the other presenters: Chris McComb on Jackson’s dualities of identity and voice; Alessandra Occhiolini on disability in We Have Always Lived in the Castle; and Kelly Suprenant on humanity, community, and the end of the world. A great example of how single-author sessions still have so much to offer!

3)      Discourses of Asian American Literature and Studies: As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, expanding and diversifying the American, Transnational, and Diaspora Area has been my central goal over the last few years; so I was very glad to see sessions like this one, and hope they can continue and grow into 2022 and beyond. This roundtable featured five wonderful presenters on the past, present, and future of Asian American Studies (in and out of the classroom): Proma Chowdhury on Nora Okja Keller’s Comfort Woman; Shannon I-Hsien Lee on racial ambiguity and in-betweenness; EnShu Robin Liao on redesigning courses and curricula; Leland Tabares on nerds, weirdos, and anti-racist solidarities; and Xiaobo Wang on Chinese American women’s transnational struggles. Please propose more such sessions for NeMLA 2022, all, and keep all these great conversations going!

Special post this weekend,


PS. If you took part in NeMLA 2021, reflections you’d share?

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