Deadline for submissions: September 23, 2016

Full name /name of organization: ACLA

Contact email:

Monsters in Our Midst: Hauntings, Taboos, and Terror in Global Literature

Organizer: Meredith Malburne-Wade

Co-Organizer: Ashley Reed

Co-Organizer: Megan Goodwin

In his essay on the unheimlich, Freud proposed that the uncanny is “something which ought to have remained hidden but has come to light.” Toni Morrison foregrounds the specter of race haunting the American literary imagination when she asks, “are there ghosts in the machine?” Barbara Creed’s engagement of Kristeva suggests that “abjection, as a source of horror, works within patriarchal societies, as a means of separating the human from the non-human.” Edward Ingebretsen’s answer to the question “why does one make a monster?” is chilling: “to watch it die, of course.”

The ogres of our imagination are raced, gendered, classed, and embodied. Societies define themselves at the threshold of repulsion. The stories we tell ourselves about what we fear reveal who we are, what we want, and what we cannot or will not tolerate. How do cultures narrate unspeakable things? How may literature help us approach—or repel—the unthinkable? Can our specters be benevolent, or can history only haunt us?

Building on these observations and inquiries, this seminar invites explorations of monstrosity, hauntings, abjection, and interstitial embodiment in global literature. We invite papers on both research and pedagogy, including the challenges of teaching monstrous or haunted works. Open to texts from or situated around the world, we look forward to discussing the history of terror, taboos, and the “ghosts in the machine,” as well as the ways in which literature hides or exposes them. ACLA will be held at Utrecht University in Utrecht, the Netherlands, July 6-9 2017. Paper proposals must be submitted by September 23. ACLA seminars run a bit differently: each seminar meets over 2-3 days and all participants should plan to attend all 2-3 days of the seminar to encourage conversation about and between individual papers. Questions can be addressed to Meredith Malburne-Wade at