Destabilizing Acts of Witnessing (NeMLA 2018)
In the face of violence, acts of witness are crucial to reaffirm the humanity of those that have been dehumanized, rebuild social worlds, and assert new communal bonds. At the same time, efforts at witnessing are fraught with risk. Personal testimonies may increase feelings of isolation instead of yielding catharsis. Writers, scholars, and artists who strive to represent acts of violence risk turning suffering into spectacle and re-inscribing binaries of agency versus victimhood. No act of witness can encompass a person’s experience; there is always more to know than any narrative or representation could portray.
This NeMLA 2018 seminar seeks papers that destabilize acts of witness or reconceptualize what it means to bear witness to suffering. Discussion of all genres/media welcome. Please submit a 300-word abstract and brief bio as a single document by Sept. 30, 2017 through the NeMLA submission website: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/17069.