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Imagi-nation: Romance, Nation, Nationalism in Early Modern England (Northeast Modern Language Association)

Boston, Massachusetts
Organization: NeMLA
Event: Northeast Modern Language Association
Categories: Early Modern & Renaissance, Adventure & Travel Writing, Drama, Narratology, Poetry, Cultural Studies
Event Date: 2020-03-05 to 2020-03-08 Abstract Due: 2019-09-30

In his theorization of the nation, Benedict Anderson suggests we think of nations as “imagined political communit[ies]—imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.” The nation, Anderson contends, “does not imagine itself as coterminous with mankind,” but rather understands itself as bounded and contained, even if the threshold of that containment cannot be fully seen or known. And yet, in the early modern period, poets and dramatists repeatedly mobilized romance—a genre associated with the suspension of limits, geographic, historical, and temporal—to help shape the contours of English identity, nation, and nationalism. From Spenser’s Faerie Queene to Shakespeare’s Cymbeline to Cavendish’s Blazing World, romance continually returns when authors interrogate issues of Englishness and the English nation.


Taking a cue from Barbara Fuchs's understanding of romance as a “strategy,” this panel explores how prose, poetic, and dramatic romances, perhaps paradoxically, contribute to early modern efforts at consolidating and codifying a sense of national identity. This panel asks: How does romance’s association with the vernacular influence the genre’s role in shaping an idea of Englishness? How does romance’s reliance on foreign others manifest and perpetuate English xenophobia and structuring fictions of the “native” and the “strange”? How does a genre typically associated with women contribute to the (masculine) project of nation-building? How does romance’s affinities with chronicle history employ nostalgia for political ends? How does the flexibility of space and time characteristic of romance allow authors to (re)think the limits of the nation?


Please submit a 200-300 word abstract alongside a short bio (150 words max) before September 30th (confirmation will be sent by October 15th) through the NeMLA submission page: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/CFP

For further information, please contact: Alexandra Carter (alexandra.carter@tufts.edu) 


Alexandra Carter