Call for Papers: Modern Language Association (MLA) East Asia Panels

Reposted from H-Net:

For East Asian literature specialists, the Modern Language Association is now a major conference event! As a result of an intensive overhaul, the representation of East Asian literatures has skyrocketed, with SIX official forums – East Asia (comparative), Ming-Qing China, Modern & Contemporary China, Japan to 1900, Japan from 1900, and Korea – and more on the way (Classical China…)! Please join us in celebrating this threshold event in Philadelphia (Jan 5-8, 2017).

In addition to the paper sessions, many of which are organized around the theme of sound, we are also organizing a ROUNDTABLE on ‘Futures of East Asia at the MLA’ and will be hosting a RECEPTION, so keep your eyes open for details, consider joining the MLA, and following our activities on MLA Commons.

The Call for Papers for the following panels remains open:

Soundscapes in Premodern Japan (guaranteed session, Japan to 1900) CFP

How do sound imaginaries in literature (the racket of the street and the warbling of birds) represent space? Who hears, listens in, or overhears, and what power do they enjoy in this sonic culture? What constitutes a sacred sound or its profane or transgressive counterpart? What role is reserved for silence? How does the sensory experience of sound constitute the body? How is sound projected in oral literature and what role is accorded to oratory? How are voices gendered are either masculine or feminine?

We are interested in the ways that sound represents courtly and natural spaces, confers auditory or illocutionary force on speakers and listeners, and gives oral literature its cultural aura in premodern Japan (defined loosely as anything pre-1900s).

Please send comments, queries, and/or 250-300 word abstracts to Jayanthi Selinger ( by 1 March 2016.

Sounding the Premodern Sinosphere (collaboration between Japan to 1900 and East Asia) CFP

The circulation and production of literary Sinitic texts was one feature that linked the distinct literary cultures of pre-modern East Asia. Attention to oral/aural dimensions of such texts highlights certain commonalities (such as codified rhyme categories) while also prompting us to recognize the disparate traditions of oral performance such texts enjoyed throughout the Sinosphere. What are the implications of aural variation for literary genres where the sound of words is especially privileged, such as poetry? To what extent is exophony a useful way to think about the production of literary Sinitic texts across the Sinosphere? How does framing such texts in terms of a shared script illuminate or obscure aspects of their creation? In what ways do the borders of literary Sinitic textuality overlap with contemporary notions of the Sinophone?

Please send comments, queries, and/or 250-300 word abstracts to Matthew Fraleigh ( by 1 March 2016.

The Queerness of Letters in Premodern Japan (special session, Japan to 1900) CFP

Inviting papers interrogating questions of sensuality and eroticism in letters and poetic exchange in homosocial spheres of premodern Japan.

250-300 word abstracts to Charlotte Eubanks ( and Reggie Jackson (, by 10 March 2016.

Literature as Experience of Crossing Boundaries (guaranteed session, East Asia) CFP

How does literature negotiate boundaries, cultural awareness, or individual self-definition in East Asia? 250-300 word abstracts by 1 March 2016; Monika Dix (

Dissimulation and its Detection in Early Modern Asia (special session, East Asia) CFP

How do literary texts register and respond to concerns about falsification and authenticity provoked by boundary crossings in early modern Asia?

250 word abstracts. by 15 March 2016; Rivi Handler-Spitz (

The Sonic Imagination of Modern Korean Literature (guaranteed session, Korea) CFP

Literary modernization in Korea is seldom discussed in terms of sonic and musical representations. The panel aims to present studies that reconstruct the “boundary conditions” of modern Korean literary production with a particular focus on sonic elements as constitutive textual and inter-textual factors. With a view to relating the acculturation and innovation of the sonic imagination to modern literary vernacularization, the panel seeks papers that deal with sounds, voice, music and dialects from different chronotopes, the confluence between literature and audiovisual genres, the incorporation of traditional folk or contemporary popular songs into prose fiction, or the interlingual use of rhythms in verse and prose, among others.To facilitate dialogue on the sonic across various literary and cultural media, the panel takes up the idea of a situated listener, who is presumed to share, recall, absorb, retrieve, and activate the knowledge of sounds in order to fully understand the given text. Analytic attention will be paid to the trajectories and repertoires of prominent vocal, rhythmic, and musical configurations that are embedded and embodied in literary works and serve to forge connections between seemingly disconnected registers. We especially welcome approaches that deal with the roles of sounds, soundscapes, and listeners in relation to categories of identity, such as colonial or ethnic nation, gender, class, region, and generation.

250-word abstract and 1-p CV by March 15, 2016; Jina Kim (

Translation and in-between Spaces in Korea and East Asia (special session, Korea) CFP

Papers engaging postcolonial approaches to translation in Korea and East Asia. This panel seeks papers that consider in-between spaces where translation and cultural transference take place in Korea and East Asia. The in-between spaces are the venues where the translator encounters the foreign, immerses herself in various types of source text, and transforms/manipulates the text. These spaces are not free from politics. Whether conscious or not, the translator is already a part of a sociocultural politics, which obviously or subtly affects her translation even from the beginning, in terms of the selection of the text to be translated. When it comes to translation in a colonial or semi-colonial society, the impact of politics upon translation is often amplified and convoluted. Locating the translating spaces as one type of “boundary conditions”—where we either naturalize the foreign or challenge the authority of the foreign text, or question the mode of living and thinking in its own culture—the panel aims to explore the ways in which the cases of Korean/East Asian literatures and cultures expand or problematize our understanding of translation. Some of the topics that the
panel seeks to address include but are not limited to: Colonial mediation and indirect translation; Pseudo-translation and its political and literary implication; Politics in Korean as a translating language; Translation and censorship; Mistranslation as a mode of resistance; Self-translation and bilingual politics; Colonial legacy in postcolonial translation

250-word abstract and 1-p CV by March 15, 2016; Heekyoung Cho (

Foreign Bodies in Korean Literature (special session, Korea) CFP

The panel addresses representation of bodies that do not respect borders, including those of foreign, non-human, migrant, spectral, infected, illegal or criminal nature. This panel seeks papers that address the representation of foreign bodies in Korean literature. While a self-proclaimed homogeneous nation, its literary and cultural works exhibit various modes of the alien, unfamiliar, or unwelcome—that perceived as coming from without that nonetheless resides within. Often appearing in relation to or produced by systematic attempts to fix, identify, and control the foreign (attempts which include the linguistic and the literary), these bodies do not respect borders, norms, or limits, and may include the illegal or criminal, the non-human, the migrant, the (double) agent, the abnormal, the spectral, or the infected or diseased.”

250-word abstract and 1-p CV by March 15, 2016; Kelly Jeong (

Chinese Science Fiction (special session, Modern & Contemporary Chinese) CFP

This panel invites papers on all aspects of Chinese science fiction. Refer to the MCLC CFP for more details. Please send a 300-word abstract and a short bio. by 7 March 2016; Christopher Tong (ctong@wustl.ed).

About Travis

I am a scholar of Japanese & Okinawan history with a particular interest in the history of arts and culture, and inter-Asia interactions, in the early modern period. I have been fortunate to enjoy the opportunity to live in Okinawa for six months in 2016-17, and in mainland Japan on multiple occasions, including from Sept 2019 to now.
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