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Call for Proposals: NeMLA 2021 Creative Session

“Speculative Figures and Speculative Futures: Our Uncanny Postapocalypse”

Mary Shelley, in her classic piece of speculative fiction and of speculative visual culture, Frankenstein (1818), sparked life into a body that started an unending conversation around being alive and our own identities as living. And in the intersecting centuries from Shelley to today, Freud has established the uncanny, Kristeva has ignited notions of abjection and of horror, and a plethora of creative agents (writers, artists, musicians, etc.) have continued to stoke these flames. Visual artist David Altmejd, for example, explores themes of science fiction and gothic romanticism to create postapocalyptic visions in his work that embraces decay in balance with regeneration to specifically “provoke that shiver of the uncanny.”[1] And in a research-creation project that she calls “scholarly vidding,” Alexis Lothian merges “[v]idding and multimodal writing [as] a space to explore scholarly ideas in diverse registers” as she positions in her work “utopia as a vision of perfection that is also an end, and dystopia as a negative imaginary that participates in the creation of worlds.”[2] This Creative Session, carrying forth Shelley’s torch, seeks creative contributions of all kinds that participate in and continue to spark, stoke, and ignite these conversations with speculative figures, speculative futures, and uncanny—and even otherworldly—postapocalyptic creativity.

We are specifically interested in artworks and creative contributions that are assessments of posthuman bodies and that embody abject and uncanny ideology through their written, oral, aural, and/or visual aesthetic. Poetry, fiction, nonfiction, sound and video work, digital animation, photography, performance, sculpture, and any and all hybrids in-between. In addition to being a creative showcase, this session also seeks to push the boundaries not only of Cultural Studies, Media Studies, and Interdisciplinary Humanities but of traditional conference panels, too, to include innovative uses of technology and of participation in its dissemination and conversation.

[1] “David Altmejd,” White Cube, accessed March 31, 2020,

[2] Lothian, Alexis. 2018. Old Futures: Speculative Fiction and Queer Possibility. New York: New York University Press. 251; 248; 25.

Abstracts/Proposals (300 words max.) are due online by September 30th, 2020.

Please submit abstracts/proposals online at

For inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact either Tommy Mayberry ( or Tommy Bourque (


NeMLA has secured a digital event platform for their 52nd Annual Convention in March 2021 – and this means that prospective presenters will be able to participate virtually! (Not only does this mean the conference should be more physically accessible, but it also means it should be financially more accessible and give creative artists and scholars formal exhibition opportunities that might otherwise be difficult to come by due to institutional closures, physical distancing, and other health and safety protocols that make gallery exhibitions and public opening receptions and live performances near-impossible this year.) If you or anyone you know – including grad students! – are interested, we hope you will put forward an abstract.

The submission deadline for abstract is September 30th, but given both the now-digital nature of the entire convention and the creative showcase angle to our session, the most important thing for prospective presenters on our panel will be to submit an abstract to ensure we get to read about their proposed work. Other details can and will be ironed out later with us throughout the Fall, so abstracts don’t need to be “perfect” right now – we’re all in this wonky situation together!

Thank you so much, and looking forward to reading about your work!

The Tommies