CFP: 131st Annual Convention MLA (Jan 7-10, 2016, Austin, TX)

CFP:  MLA Forum of Colonial Latin American Literatures. 131st Annual Convention of MLA in Austin, Texas, 7-10 January 2016. Two regular guaranteed sessions for the MLA, and a non-guaranteed session. Paper proposals are due to prospective panel chairs on March 01, 2015. If you have any questions, contact, or Ivonne del Valle,


Colonial Texts and Communities of Readers Chair: Mónica Díaz, University of Kentucky. Engaging with the presidential theme for MLA 2016, “Literature and Its Publics,” this panel focuses on the material history of the production of texts – in both manuscript and printed forms – and of their public reception throughout Latin America’s colonial period. We are especially interested in papers that address specific communities of readers, for example religious communities or ethnic communities. Some relevant questions that could be posed are: what were the politics of production, circulation, and preservation of texts? Who could have access to them and for what purposes? How has the public reception of colonial texts changed with time? Please send one-page CV and 200-word abstract by MARCH 1st to Mónica Díaz:

The Economics of Empire in the Early Modern Iberian World. Chair: Nicolás Wey Gómez, California Institute of Technology. Describing the first bartering activity between his crew members and native peoples in his letter to Luis de Santangel (1493), Columbus was quick to formulate the economic logic that, no doubt in his view and the Spanish crown’s, justified European presence in the Indies: the natives were to “give us those things they have in abundance and which are necessary to us.” The letter announcing the discovery also makes it instantly clear that the exchange between what one had in abundance for what one ‘wanted’ reached far beyond material goods: while Europeans allegedly had religion, government, and customs to give to the Indians, native peoples were to supply labor and raw and manufactured goods to the Europeans. Columbus was certainly not the first colonizer in history to construe economic exchange this broadly. Such an inclusive understanding of economics had even been theorized in antiquity by Aristotle himself, who, in his Politics, saw the reciprocal exchange between differently ‘wanting’ members of families, villages and city-states as the very key to human survival. Columbus was merely extending this logic across the Atlantic in the interest of colonial empire. This panel invites papers that examine not only this logic of empire, but also the myriad economic exchanges imagined by colonial authors across time. Please send one-page CV and 200-word abstract by MARCH 1st to Nicolas Wey-Gomez:

NON-GUARANTEED SESSION: Paradoxes of the Enlightenment and the Liberal Revolutions: Sugar and Coffee over FreedomChair: Ivonne del Valle, U.C. Berkeley. Respondent: Ana Hontanilla, The University of North Carolina Greensboro. The debates of the radical Enlightenment and the liberal revolutions promoted ideas of equality, independence, and freedom contrary to slavery, an institution that, nevertheless, lasted until late 19th century in the Spanish colonies of Cuba and Puerto Rico. This panel seeks papers that address the legacies of the Enlightenment and Liberalism on the ideas regarding the African races, the labor they were forced to perform, and the social space they were supposed to occupy. What ideological and rhetorical tools were used to broach the contradictions around slavery as a practice by 18th and 19th century thinkers across Spanish territories? How were these tensions present not only in their writings but in everyday practices? We seek papers that illuminate ideological and pragmatic changes brought about by the Enlightenment or the liberal revolutions as well as papers that elaborate on how African descendants actively participated in these processes. We also welcome contributions that address: 1) the anti-slavery and pro-slavery dialogues that took place in the larger context of 19th century abolitionist movements, and 2) the possibility of a radical Enlightenment thinking on slavery and the obstacles these ideas might have faced. Please send one-page CV and 200-word abstract by March 1st to Ivonne del Valle: