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Coming to Terms: Diverse, Ethnic, or Multicultural Literatures?

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Organizer: Ricardo Quintana-Vallejo

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Proposed ACLA 2023 seminar title:    Coming to Terms: Diverse, Ethnic, or Multicultural Literatures?


What literary works belong in an undergraduate level “Multicultural American Literature” class? What do students expect to read when they enroll in an “Ethnic Minorities Literature” or “Diversity Literature” seminar? Are these terms accurate, useful, engaging; or are they outdated and perhaps even offensive or divisive? Undoubtedly, theoretical frameworks coined by Mary Louise-Pratt, Henry Louis Gates Jr., or Cherrie Moraga (to name a few) prompted a daring reformation of approaches to literary production by decolonial and diasporic writing communities at this historical moment when news about international migration, black liberation, and displacement due to climate change plaster our screens and social media. Some of the terminology proved invaluable then became obsolete; once useful, now problematic, and controversial. It is now vague, sometimes unclear: what do we mean when we study literatures of the “contact zones,” or of the “borderlands”? do contemporary authors welcome or balk at such labels as “multicultural,” “diverse,” “postcolonial,” or, even more contentious, “ethnic”?

            Moving forward, I we must discuss which will be the terminologies we deploy in our classrooms and use to taxonomize recent and canonical literary traditions—willingly or unwillingly.

            We welcome papers that

1) explore and evaluate the terminology available to taxonomize and study the literary productions of BIPOC, historically marginalized and underrepresented groups, and all other non-canonical traditions,

2) propose new terminology in English and/or other languages,

3) analyze specific works of literary fiction in ways that elucidate or illustrate more adequate and compelling terminologies, and

4) invite us to reflect on the complexity of modern and contemporary literatures in an increasingly interconnected, globalized, and multicultural world.


            Please submit a 300-word abstract and a 1- to 2-page bio to rquintanavallejo@ric.edu and duran0@purdue.edu.


Ricardo Quintana-Vallejo

Assistant Professor; English

Rhode Island College
rquintanavallejo@ric.edu


Angelica Duran

Professor; English, Comparative Literature, Religious Studies (Director, 2009–13)

Interim Director, Creative Writing (2022–23)

Purdue University
duran0@purdue.edu

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