The (re)emergence of populism(s), the increase in hate speech, and the resurgence of ethnic and religious violence and xenophobia—in what Pankaj Mishra has called “the age of anger”—all evince a complex web of relations and gestures toward the Other, which call the project of modernity into question.
In the face of this resurgent social, political, and religious instability, as well as the impending threat of ecological catastrophes, it seems urgent to recuperate the “lost voices” of humanity. These lost voices belong to two different groups: those that have been buried or forgotten throughout time and those that have been marginalized or othered on the grounds of their perceived foreignness. All these voices contribute to a culture of debate and dissension against and within emerging paradigms centered on intolerance and conformity, oftentimes propelled by technological developments that elide difference and naturalize absolutist ideas about the uses and misuses of power.
Re-membering (in both senses of recalling and assembling) lost voices is a way of acknowledging and bringing them to the forefront of cultural discussions as an act of resistance and as a creative impulse. In the words of the poet Tolentino Mendonça, it entails the opportunity to be filled with awe.
Inspired by Proust’s search in À la recherche du temps perdu, and with the goal of re-membering marginal voices, the 2019 MLA International Symposium calls for paper and session proposals that place the humanities at the center of world affairs and encourage debate about the circumstances and potentialities of being in awe of the other that inhabits the self and others. This “being in awe” may produce new forms of conviviality in a world devastated by hatred, poverty, bigotry, and environmental dead ends.
Thus, in the hope that a new version of George Steiner’s “humane literacy” can come into existence, we invite humanities scholars to search for “lost voices.”
Proposals may address diverse historical periods, disciplines, texts, and practices that represent, interact with, and interrogate a wide range of models of thought.
The conference will feature the following formats:
- panel sessions and discussions
- paper sessions composed of 3–5 individual papers
- roundtable conversations including 3–6 participants
We invite proposals for any of the above formats. Sessions will be ninety minutes long, including time for discussion. The conference languages will be English, Portuguese, French, and Spanish.
Paper proposals should include the paper title, a brief abstract, and the speaker’s institutional affiliation (if any).
Proposals for panels and roundtables should contain the above items as well as a session chair, abstract, and title.
Please use the MLA International Symposium’s submissions portal to submit your paper, session, or roundtable proposal(s). All submissions must be received by 21 September 2018, and participants will be notified of the outcome of the selection process by 3 December 2018.
Further information can be found at https://symposium.mla.org/2019-details/