Modern Language Association

Date Information
Event Dates: 
Tuesday, 23 July, 2019 - 00:00 to Thursday, 25 July, 2019 - 00:00

The Modern Language Association’s second International symposium will be held in Lisbon, Portugal in July 2019 and will brring together hundreds of international humanities scholars.

Remembering Voices Lost

Anything we love can be saved.
—Alice Walker

The (re)emergence of populism(s), the increase in hate speech, and the resurgence of ethnic and religious violence and xenophobia—in what Pankaj Mishra has called “the age of anger”—all evince a complex web of relations and gestures toward the Other, which call the project of modernity into question.

In the face of this resurgent social, political, and religious instability, as well as the impending threat of ecological catastrophes, it seems urgent to recuperate the “lost voices” of humanity. These lost voices belong to two different groups: those that have been buried or forgotten throughout time and those that have been marginalized or othered on the grounds of their perceived foreignness. All these voices contribute to a culture of debate and dissension against and within emerging paradigms centered on intolerance and conformity, oftentimes propelled by technological developments that elide difference and naturalize absolutist ideas about the uses and misuses of power.

Re-membering (in both senses of recalling and assembling) lost voices is a way of acknowledging and bringing them to the forefront of cultural discussions as an act of resistance and as a creative impulse. In the words of the poet Tolentino Mendonça, it entails the opportunity to be filled with awe.

Inspired by Proust’s search in À la recherche du temps perdu, and with the goal of re-membering marginal voices, the 2019 MLA International Symposium calls for paper and session proposals that place the humanities at the center of world affairs and encourage debate about the circumstances and potentialities of being in awe of the other that inhabits the self and others. This “being in awe” may produce new forms of conviviality in a world devastated by hatred, poverty, bigotry, and environmental dead ends.

Thus, in the hope that a new version of George Steiner’s “humane literacy” can come into existence, we invite humanities scholars to search for “lost voices.”

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