CFP: Global Literature and Technology

January 5, 2018, New York

Organizer: Jap-Nanak Makkar, University of Virginia,
Deadline: March 1, 2017 (email abstract, bio & AV requirements to organizer)
Special Session for MLA 2018, New York City

Please consider submitting to a special session, proposed to take place at MLA 2018 in New York City, on “Global Literature and Technology.”

Call for papers

Digital media pose a challenge to the cultural authority usually associated with the book, generating an “aesthetic of bookishness” in recent fiction (Pressman 2009) or engendering a reactive, anti-technological response in literary criticism (Birkerts 1994). According to this perspective, digital media threaten to overtake the place of literary fiction as a leisure option. But, as Sarah Brouillette (2007) has pointed out, electronic technologies have also contributed to the creation of the postcolonial canon: ever since electronic technology permitted publishing companies greater control over stock and distribution in the 1980s, these companies began to service niche markets—such as the market for postcolonial fiction. We might say, then, that technology and global fiction share a relationship of antagonism, dependency or historical coincidence, depending on the methodological perspective applied.

This special session convenes scholars who represent a diversity of perspectives on the issue of “global literature and technology.” As we reflect on how global literature responds to twenty-first-century technologies, it will be of especial importance to identify important historical landmarks, helpful theoretical frameworks, and recurrent aesthetic strategies in our objects—all in order to highlight the core questions up for critical debate in the field. The panel’s objective will be to advance the critical conception of global literature by bringing to light new considerations related to technological history and theory.

Panelists are welcome to pursue the following questions, or related lines of inquiry:

  • How might attending to the literary representation or history of digital technology illuminate something new about global novelists (such as Salman Rushdie, Ruth Ozeki, David Mitchell and Haruki Murakami)?
  • How do representational strategies (global “English”; plainness of speech, allegory) of the global novel relate to its technological conditions?
  • How are global South representations of media/technology distinct from global North representations?
  • What is “global” about digital technology?
  • How does the global novel respond to the “informational economy,” big data or digitalization?
  • Is it appropriate to conceive of digital technology as another form of modern media—on a spectrum alongside TV, radio, gramophone and film—or does it demand new frameworks?
  • What historical landmarks are critical for making sense of digital technology and/or global literature (i.e., the fall of the Berlin wall, the rise of neoliberalism, post-colonial liberations)?
  • What theoretical frameworks are apt suitable for understanding the relationship between global literature and technology?

Please submit 300-word abstracts, a brief biography, and audiovisual requirements by 1 March 2017 to Jap-Nanak Makkar ( Please contact the seminar organizer with questions or concerns.

Contact Email:

Deadline: March 1, 2017

Posted: January 25, 2017