[Msa-discuss] NeMLA CFP: Disability in Modernist Literature

Elise Swinford eswinfor at english.umass.edu
Thu Sep 15 15:39:24 EDT 2016

NeMLA 2017

Panel: Disability in Modernist Literature

This panel takes up recent interventions in modernist studies through 
the critical lens of disability. Evoking E.M. Forster’s appeal to “only 
connect,” David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder claim that “[t]o represent 
disability is to engage oneself in an encounter with that which is 
believed to be off the map of 'recognizable' human 
experiences….situat[ing] narrative in the powerful position of mediator 
between two separate worlds” (Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the 
Dependencies of Discourse 5). From Mrs. Dalloway’s Septimus Smith and 
his struggle to connect with the world around him while battling PTSD, 
to Jake Barnes’ “emasculating” injury in The Sun Also Rises, the theme 
of disability and (dis)connection permeates modernist literature.

While the modernist moment calls forth associations with new modes of 
transportation and communication, speed, transnational engagement, and 
global connection, disability is often discussed in terms of deficiency 
and immobility, stagnation and limitation. The early twentieth century 
marked a shift in attitudes to disability: while turn-of-the-century 
understandings of cognitive and physical disability were limited, often 
viewed as the result of moral failure, the modernist moment saw 
reactions to extensive war trauma, new psychological theories, and the 
eugenics movement. This panel seeks to explore how modernist writers 
negotiated disability, either as represented in their work or in how 
their personal experiences with disability shaped their aesthetics. 
Papers may address any topic exploring disability in modernist 
literature, including (but not limited to) gendered spaces, sensation/ 
perception, disabilities as tropes for deficiency and/or difference, 
modern war/ trauma, pain, eugenics, the sexed body and ability, and 
travel and movement.

To submit an abstract, please visit 

Deadline to apply: September 30, 2016 via NeMLA website ONLY.

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