Call for Papers: Post/Modern Subversion and Textual Rebellion

Post/Modern Subversion and Textual Rebellion

What happens when literature–and even language–is used for subversion? When authors write in response to political action, literature functions as a tool. When authors represent their times and their worlds, literature functions symbolically. When authors write in pointed languages within or outside of their nations, literature is itself an action. Furthermore, when reading across borders, across languages, across dialects, and more, literature functions as an action that directly impacts both time and space. The political effect, meaning, and causes of literature are constantly up for debate. Deleuze and Guattari argued that all minority literature is inherently political (1983); Foucault said that the individual is at the center of politics yet invisible, unable to divorce from the world around oneself (1976); Socrates states that literature comprises a human’s soul and the soul, of course, is directed to be just. If literature, then, is intrinsically tied to politics, the juridical, and the “correct” way of being, what happens when it goes against the grain of what is accepted? How does literature find and create its own ethics and meaning?

Political subversion functions within all genres of literatures. Its meaning and its use are characterized differently across works. From Friedrich Nietzsche, to punk rock, to Yiddish writing in the Nazi ghettos, to George Orwell, and beyond, subversion and antiauthoritarianism inhabit literature. When reading across borders, genres, languages, and times, the subversive nature of texts shows their unifying effect, while helping find new ways to grow out of the political. 

Modernist and Postmodernist subversive works show that rebellious literature is predicated upon a world post-Enlightenment, post-Intellectualism, post-realism, as the new ways toward life also navigate society towards a new way to die. As the new political regime of the nation-state decentralizes power and the individual, the authors respond through a variety of media to let rebellion take root.

Possible panel topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Religious rebellion

  • Linguistic rebellion (deliberate writing in a certain language within a national context)

  • Exile, immigrant, and refugee rebellion

  • Gender and sexual rebellion

  • Musical and other art forms

  • Breaking of aesthetic traditions

  • Legal, juridical, theoretical, and other nonfictive representations of rebellion

  • Depictions of different cultures

  • Acts of self-Othering

  • Epistemological nontruths

  • Juridical unjustness

  • How national and linguistic borders can be challenged through literature

  • Changes across the 20th century in teaching and writing about biology, evolution, etc.

Although this is a conference based in and out of Comparative Literature, we welcome and encourage submissions from all disciplines. The goals of this conference are to study how different texts perform, analyze, or use subversion to upend traditions. We are looking for papers that study different kinds of texts, such as fiction, nonfiction, verse, painting, and music; different modes of aesthetic representations, especially those that break with the realist traditions of pre-Modern and Early Modern art; border crossing; challenging the social constructs of race, sexuality, and gender; legal and political rebellion; post-Enlightenment changes to the ways of writing about sciences; and other topics related to adjacent fields of study.

Please submit a 250-word abstract of your 15-20 minute long presentation (appx 6-8 double spaced pages) along with a brief (max 250 word) bio to Sicily Lerner at This conference will take place over two days, Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1. The first day will be multi-panel and end with a keynote speech. The second day will be a professional development panel event for graduate students. Faculty, graduate students, and other professionals will be speaking about post-academia professional endeavors and will conclude with a keynote. All are welcome to attend both days.

Please note that presenters must arrange their own travel and board. We are happy to help you find grants to cover travel and accommodation.

Abstracts are due February 15, 2024 at 11:59pm PST.