Changing Worlds, Worlds of Change: Early Modern Texts in Times of Turmoil
Philadelphia, PA (11-14 Mars 2021), avant le 30 septembre 2020

52nd Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention
Multiple moments of upheaval—clashes between European powers, violent religious conflict, political instability, and epidemics—shook early modern France. Increased contact with the Americas contributed to greater European awareness of the wider world and human diversity, which generated an interrogation of France’s place in it. These shifts in the global landscape mirrored a new interest in exploring humankind, and the early modern became the breaking ground of what we now understand as the humanities. 
In the midst of the early modern’s multi-faceted interest in the human, its authors grapple with a world they see changing, and they imagine changing worlds. This panel seeks to explore how these texts respond to—or participate in—the often jarring, violent changes and debates that took place. What if the world were different? How can we change it? How should we change it? For a time in which the difference between the “real world” and the “fictional world” is slippery at best, responding to turmoil becomes a textual exercise in which literary representation radically changes the world. 
In seeking submissions that address these textual engagements, our panel will invite reflection on what we learn from studying early modern French and francophone texts today. What can reading texts from a time so removed from our own—but whose turmoil finds echoes in current headlines—tell us about the present and about early modern literature’s place in it?
Abstracts of 250 words in English or French should be submitted through the NeMLA website by 30 September, 2020. 
Please feel free to contact Emily Epperson ( and Therese Banks ( with any questions.