Call For Papers, Proposed Working Group on Embodied Reading, MLA Annual Convention

Proposed Working Group, Modern Languages Association, Annual Convention, January 9-20, 2020

Proposed working group, MLA
Convention, Seattle, WA
Taking a cue from recent
developments in somatic psychology toward embodied listening and embodied
, in this working group we will explore embodied
as a practice that attends to bodily sensation and affective
response as they emerge in the process of reading. For scholars engaged with
materials that describe traumatic encounters—from the archive of slavery to the
autopsy of Michael Brown to memoirs of sexual violence—a choice presents
itself. Do I bracket my own revulsion, discomfort, boredom, rage, or pain? We
invite papers that explore what happens when, instead of ignoring or
suppressing the vagaries of sensation, we attend to bodily affects: to the
catch of the breath the moment we learn where and how the bullet entered the
body; to the tightening of the belly as we read of the deadly blow that struck
the young girl. As a critical or scholarly practice, embodied reading
accomplishes nothing, produces nothing: it is not so much an alternative to
reading close or distant, deep or surface, but rather constitutes a place of
commencement from which other critical reading modalities might follow.
Embodied reading offers a new locus of attention from which scholarly practice
becomes, perhaps, more sustainable, more connected to the rhythms of daily
experience, of being-in-the-world. Please send 250-word abstracts to ccutchin@berkeley.eduby March 15. We invite papers on
topics that (for example):
·     attend to the affective or bodily experience of reading
triggering material (literary, archival, or journalistic)
·     reflect on one’s own personal experience of integrating
embodiment practice, meditation, or other therapeutic techniques with literary
·     consider new developments in somatic psychology as they
relate to literary studies
·     theorize how embodied reading can emerge in the classroom
·     situate embodied reading in relationship to e.g., disability
studies, queer studies, or memory studies 
·     examine the relationship between the reader’s embodied
experience and the emergence of meaning in the literary or filmic text

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