CFP for MLA special session about biofiction and modernism

CFP for a special session at the 2017 MLA

Biofiction and Modernism

Biofiction, literature that names its protagonist after an actual historical figure, first became popular in the 1930s.  Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Arna Bontemps, Zora Neale Hurston, Robert Graves, Irving Stone, and Bruno Frank are just a few who authored biographical novels in the 1930s.  But many contemporary writers have authored biofictions about prominent modernist figures, including Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, George Remus, Rainer Maria Rilke, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Walter Benjamin, Ernest Hemingway, Frida Kahlo, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Robert Frost, just to mention a few.  What role did modernism play in making biofiction both possible and popular?  How can we use contemporary biofictions to understand or re-imagine modernism?  How is the biographical novel different from the historical novel?  And how does the biographical novel engage history and critique the political?  These are just a few questions worth considering.  Please feel free to come up with different ways of framing the issue.

For those interested in biofiction and modernism, please send a 250-word abstract to Michael Lackey ( by February 15th.