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Talking Animals in Modern and Contemporary Italian Literature (NeMLA 2019)

Washington, DC
Event: NeMLA 2019
Categories: Comparative
Event Date: 2019-03-21 to 2019-03-24 Abstract Due: 2018-09-30

Please, consider to submit an abstract to the following panel of the NeMLA 2019 conference:


Talking Animals in Modern and Contemporary Italian Literature


The presence and role of animals in literature has recently been at the center of many critical studies at the intersection of critical theory, textual analysis, post-humanism, and animal studies. Whether animals function as a mere allegory for mankind or as a symbol of an irrational, mysterious force; or whether they serve as an embodiment of “otherness”, either to reinforce or to question the centrality of humankind, animals seem to be one of the privileged figures to pose social, philosophical, and political questions, especially in non-dominant literary genres. The goal of this panel is to focus, in particular, on the function played by talking animals in literary works written from the Enlightenment onward, possibly looking at different literary genres. Far from appearing just in children’s literature, in fact, talking animals are present in dystopian novels, allegorical stories, plays, and, of course, zooepic poems. While the anthropomorphization of animals has existed since the very beginning of Western literature, it is undeniable that this trope has become increasingly present in contemporary literature, paralleling the increased interest in posthumanism and animal studies. The question this panel will try to address is how does the role of the talking animal and its philosophical implications change after the Enlightenment? How does modernity affect its symbolic uses, and which new meanings/questions are talking animals embodying in contemporary literature? Papers focused on Italian works or engaging with comparative literature are equally welcome.


Abstracts to be submitted via https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/17343 by September 30.

Title: 100 characters; Abstract: 300 words




Alessandra Mirra