Area Special Events

These events include critically and creatively renowned speakers and are organized by the various areas of inquiry and caucuses represented by the organization.

Comparative Literature and Women's and Gender Studies Special Event

Ricardo L. Ortíz, "Sex and Gender After 'Latinx'"

Friday, March 22, 11:45 AM-1 PM, Cherry Blossom Ballroom

Ricardo Ortiz

This special event hinges on one letter's capacity to pose a foundational disciplinary challenge to comparatist literary study. Starting with the proposition that the "x" in Latinx simultaneously upends the traditional political authority of patriarchy's binary logic of gender and pulls what was Latina/o Studies more fully into an anglophone space by rejecting the grammatical conventions of gendering in Spanish, the talk explores the variety of repercussions of this strategically explosive graphematic gesture: for feminist of color work on the gender politics of authorship, characterization, and and sexual-textual dynamics more generally; for queer of color work on the gendered play of bodies, desires, and pleasures in textual practice; for critical trans work on gender, as either an in-itself ontological proposition or as disappearing horizon of embodiment and thought. The key literary case study will involve the fiction writers Camen Maria Machado and Junot Díaz.

Ricardo L. Ortiz is Chair and Associate Professor of Latinx Literature and Culture in the English Department at Georgetown University. His first book, Cultural Erotics in Cuban America, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2007; his second book, Latinx Literature Now: Between Evanescence and Event, will be published by Palgrave Press in 2019.

This event is organized by the Comparative Literature Area and the Women's and Gender Studies Caucus.

Anglophone, British, and Diversity Special Event

Gayle Wald, " 'It's Awfully Important to Listen': Ella Jenkins and Musical Multiculturalism"

Saturday, March 23, 11:45 AM-1:15 PM, Cherry Blossom Ballroom

Gayle Wald

Ella Jenkins (b. Chicago 1924), although lauded as the "First Lady of Children’s Music," is an understudied figure within American culture. The emergence of multiculturalism in the 1990s made it possible for Jenkins’s pluralist methodology to be framed and appropriated, capitalized upon and (newly) appreciated. Yet her work has always been tethered to a black feminist democratic imagination of cultural production, understood as a form of listening. This special event situates Jenkins' work historically and maps out her cultural labors as a pioneer of "multicultural" children's music. 

Gayle Wald is Professor of English and American Studies and Chair of American Studies at George Washington University. Her work has centered on cultural memory and forgetting, particularly around black cultural production in the United States. She is author of three books: It's Been Beautiful: Soul! and Black Power TV (Duke 2015); Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Beacon 2007); and Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in U.S. Literature and Culture (2000). Her Rosetta Tharpe biography has been the basis of a documentary film (Godmother of Rock, directed by Mick Csaky) and a musical (Shout, Sister, Shout!, book by Cheryl L. West; directed by Randy Johnson). She has published widely on popular music, in scholarly as well as journalistic outlets.

This event is organized by the Anglophone/British Literature Area and the Diversity Committee.

American, Cultural & Media Studies, and Spanish & Portuguese Special Event

Aviva Chomsky, "The Immigration Debate: From Settler Colonialism to Donald Trump"

Saturday, March 23, 6:30 PM-8:30 PM, Cherry Blossom Ballroom

Aviva Chomsky

This talk looks at the ongoing immigration debate in the United States from the perspective of settler colonialism. Colonizers founded a "country of (white) immigrants" in a land populated by indigenous and black, as well as white, people. Settler colonial ideologies have infused debates about citizenship, expansion, and immigration ever since. A settler colonial perspective helps to illuminate the ways that immigration stands at the crux of foreign and domestic policy, and that Donald Trump’s policies, far from representing an aberration, are deeply rooted in U.S. history and national mythology.

Aviva Chomsky is Professor of History and Coordinator of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts.  Her books include Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal (Beacon Press, 2014; Mexican edition, 2014), A History of the Cuban Revolution (2011, 2nd ed. 2015), Linked Labor Histories: New England, Colombia, and the Making of a Global Working Class (2008), They Take Our Jobs!  And Twenty Other Myths about Immigration (2007; U.S. Spanish edition 2011, Cuban edition 2013), and West Indian Workers and the United Fruit Company in Costa Rica, 1870-1940 (1996).  She has also co-edited several anthologies including The People behind Colombian Coal: Mining, Multinationals and Human Rights/Bajo el manto del carbón: Pueblos y multinacionales en las minas del Cerrejón, Colombia (2007), The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics (2003, 2nd edition 2019) and Identity and Struggle at the Margins of the Nation-State: The Laboring Peoples of Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean (1998).  She has been active in Latin America solidarity and immigrants’ rights movements for several decades.

This event is organized by the American Literature Area, the Cultural Studies and Media Studies Area, and the Spanish and Portuguesue Language and Literature Area.

Creative Writing, Publishing, and Editing Special Event

A Reading by Shelley Jackson

Saturday, March 23, 6:30-8:30 PM, Eastern Shore 1

Shelley Jackson

Shelley Jackson was extracted from the bum leg of a water buffalo in 1963 in the Philippines and grew up complaining in Berkeley, California. Bravely overcoming a chronic pain in her phantom limb, she extracted an AB in art from Stanford and an MFA in creative writing from Brown. She has spent most of her life in used bookstores, smearing unidentified substances on the spines, and is duly obsessed with books: paper, glue, and ink. Nonetheless, she is most widely recognized for an electronic text, Patchwork Girl, a hypertext reworking of the Frankenstein myth, and for SKIN, a story published in tattoos on the skin of volunteers. As for ink on paper, she has left her ineradicable stain on Conjunctions, Fence, Grand Street, The Paris Review, and many restaurant napkins. Her first book, The Melancholy of Anatomy, was published by Anchor in April 2002, her second, the novel Half Life, by Harper Collins in 2006. About her new novel–Riddance; or, The Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children (Catapult 2018)–Samantha Hunt writes: “A genius work of art; a lost history; a rollicking, wondrous, Borgesian library; and a haunting so gloriously conceived, reader, you will shudder.”

This event is organized by the Creative Writing, Publishing, and Editing Area, with support by Modern Language Studies, the peer-review journal of NeMLA.

The Annual Creative Writers and Editors' Reception will precede the presentation.

French & Francophone and Italian Special Event

Roberto Dainotto, "Ernesto de Martino and Frantz Fanon: 'Forms of Fanonism' in the Mediterranean"

Saturday, March 23, 6:30-8:30 PM, Woodrow Wilson Ballroom A

Roberto Dainotto

Taking a cue from Reiland Rabaka’s "Forms of Fanonism," this talk will explore a lesser-known treasure trove in the archives of decolonization—namely, the encounter of European Marxism with Frantz Fanon through the work of Ernesto de Martino. In the context of the Algerian War—prior to Lewis Gordon's "first stage" of Fanon Studies in the 1960s and 1970s—de Martino undertook a study of the European South through the conceptual toolbox of decolonial theory: his goal was to claim—along with the necessity to rethink what the same Gordon calls "the ontologizing or reification" of scientific disciplines—the universalism of decolonization against "the universally human…theorized in traditional forms of cultural life [as] only the male, the adult, the European, the colonizer, the healthy, the representative of the hegemonic social classes."

Roberto Dainotto is Professor of Italian and Literature at Duke University, where he teaches courses on modern and contemporary European culture. He has been Professeur invitè at the Université Paris Ouest-Nanterre La Defense, and Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies in South Africa. His publications include Place in Literature: Regions, Cultures, Communities (Cornell UP, 2000); Europe (in Theory) (Duke UP, 2007), winner of the 2010 Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies; and Mafia: A Cultural History (Reaction Books, 2015). He has also edited Racconti Americani del ‘900 (Einaudi, 1999), a monographic issue of Italian Culture on Giambattista Vico (2017), and co-edited with Fredric Jameson Gramsci in the World (Duke UP, forthcoming). Roberto Dainotto is currently working on a monograph on Antonio Labriola.

This event is organized by the French and Francophone Language and Literature Area and the Italian Language and Literature Area.

German Special Event

Peter Wortsman, "The 'Lingovert' Writer: Mining the Left Hand of Consciousness in a Second Tongue"

Saturday, March 23, 6:30-8:30 PM, Annapolis 1

Peter Wortsman

Photographer: Jean-Luc Fievet

A formidable literary "foreign legion" comprising uprooted aristocrats, seafarers, adventurers, itinerant intellectuals, and refugees of every ilk—think Samuel Beckett, Adelbert von Chamisso, Joseph Conrad, Isaak Dinesen, and Vladimir Nabokov, to cite only the most famous—have hip hopped across linguistic and geopolitical borders, and in the process, created a parallel tradition to the literature of place—call it the literature of displacement! Writer-translator Peter Wortsman, the American-born son of Austrian-Jewish refugees, will reflect on the notion of “lingoverts,” a term he coined for these “honeybees of culture,” who gather conceptual pollen on one side of a linguistic divide and fertilize exotic flowers on another. He will also present some of his own translingual experiments written in German and French, thereafter adapted into English, tapping what he calls “the left hand of consciousness.”

Peter Wortsman is the author of two books of short fiction, A Modern Way to Die and Footprints in Wet Cement, a novel, and Cold Earth Wanderers, named by Foreword Reviews "one of the best fantasy/scifi books of the year"; two stage plays, Burning Words and The Tattooed Man Tells All, both produced; a travel memoir, Ghost Dance in Berlin, for which he won an Independent Publishers Book Award; and a forthcoming work of nonfiction, The Caring Heirs of Dr. Samuel Bard. He also compiled, edited, and translated an anthology, Tales of the German Imagination. His other critically acclaimed English takes on German classics include works by Peter Altenberg, Adelbert von Chamisso, the Brothers Grimm, Heinrich Heine, Franz Kafka, Heinrich von Kleist, Robert Musil, Mynona, and Ernst Toller. A former fellow of the Fulbright and Thomas J. Watson Foundations, he was a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in 2010. He currently teaches literary translation in the Department of Germanic, Russian and Eastern European Languages at Rutgers University.

This event is organized by the German Language and Literature Area.

Saturday Evening Receptions

Saturday, March 23, 8:30-10 PM, Cherry Blossom Ballroom

Our evening reception features designated areas for networking. All are welcome, especially early career scholars. NeMLA’s board members, administration, and staff visits all networking events, so you meet and share your NeMLA experiences with the people who put this conference together. And of course, meet our Area Special Event speakers in person after their talks to share a conversation.