“Where are the Wonder Girls? Heroines and Persistence in Campus Novels”
Call for Papers
Modern Language Association Convention
January 7-10, 2021
Enormous reading pleasure can be derived from Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys but where are the wonder girls? Where are American (campus) novels about gallivanting women academics and writers based in academia, getting into trouble, having multiple lovers in different countries, shoplifting, dancing naked in the rain (the list is suggestive, not exhaustive)? Yet novels which are comic, feel-good, and sporting happy endings? There is a discernible tendency to cast as protagonists of campus novels and artist novels unhappy and unlucky women, tormented victims rather than fierce individuals with agency.
I’m seeking papers on representations of women academics and writers in contemporary US campus literature depicting women’s efforts to survive as artists. I’m interested in e.g. how an artist heroine navigates the nexus between and the lacunae of intellectuality, creativity, and sexuality, juggling different roles the society has burdened her with, while battling various obstacles, exterior and interior and, if she doesn’t have an inherited income and a house of her own, being torn between the need to create and the need to live, caught in a double-bind between art and life, succeeding and/or failing as a woman or as an artist. I’m primarily interested in portrayals of active women artists who are protagonists not mere characters.
Please submit a 250-word abstract and brief biography to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 15, 2020.