LLC 20th- and 21st-Century American forum executive committee:

Paula M. L. Moya, Jan. 2016
Mark Goble, Jan. 2017 (2015–Jan. 2016 Ch.)
Amy Hungerford, Jan. 2018 (2015–Jan. 2016 Sec.)
Heather Houser, Jan. 2019
Joseph Jeon, Jan. 2020

Call for Papers: “Un/Bound” Special Issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies


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    Megan Brown

    Call for Papers: “Un/Bound”
    Special Issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies
    36.3 Autumn 2021

    Submissions Deadline: February 1, 2020

    Memoirs and other auto/biographical genres that describe selfhoods at, on, or over borders have long been a subject of scholarly interest but have recently acquired greater urgency. Border crossings and unbindings—the movements of bodies in space inside and across boundaries of all kinds—are at the center not just of the news but also of current discussions in life writing studies.

    Since 2016, every volume of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies has included essays or clusters dedicated to lives written in spaces between bounded ground or that exist in crossings between such places. Biography’s recent issue includes Marc Lamont Hill’s “From Ferguson to Palestine: Reimagining Transnational Solidarity Through Difference” as well as Gillian Maris Jones’ “Black Lives Abroad: Encounters of Diasporic Solidarity in Brazil.” Books on the subject, such as Routledge’s After American Studies: Rethinking the Legacies of Transnational Exceptionalism (Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera, 2019) and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Migrant Longing: Letter Writing Across the US-Mexico Borderlands (Miroslava Chávez-García, 2018) have proliferated, as have short-form treatments across more than 100 journals in disciplines as disparate as those represented by the Journal of Literacy Research, African and Black Diaspora, and Culture, Medicine, and Psychology.

    Textual lives in/of migration are clearly the focus of intensive critical attention currently. As the necessity of migration and its divisive politics intensifies, life writing about lives bound and unbound by movement in and between spaces becomes more valuable in fighting stereotypical projections and in complicating and deepening our understanding of the link between place, movement, and identity.

    The guest editors of this special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies seek essays investigating how borders and boundaries function in the telling of life narratives—the sense in which lines and liminality may bind people in place, in which crossing boundaries is definitional in life writing as a genre, and in which crossed boundaries become meaningful in their own creation and in the creation of a life-as-text. This issue seeks to address such life writing from a global perspective, asking us to think about what binds or frees human beings, what constitutes a border or a margin on which a self might be or escape its definition.

    Proposed essays may address, but certainly should not be limited to, the following topics:

    • Border crossing and border enforcement, immigration, and refugee experiences in life narratives
    • Life in the borderlands, life in immigrant communities/families
    • Depictions and/or constructions of transnational or postcolonial identity, hybridity, international interaction
    • Issues of language and dialect
    • Effects of changing, shifting, or disputed borders and government policies on individuals and communities
    • Concepts of, and responses to, border (in)security
    • Narrative forms used to represent borders and borderlands
    • Mapping and cultural geographies in borderlands narratives
    • Methodologies used to support border research
    • Pedagogical approaches to border narratives
    • Genre and narrating lives on the move

    Send original articles of 6,000-7,000 words (including works cited and notes), including keywords, an abstract, and a brief biographical statement to Helga Lénárt-Cheng ( and Megan Brown ( The guest editors welcome essays that include images and are able to print in color without author fees. a/b also publishes ancillary digital and multimedia texts on the journal’s Routledge website. Inquiries welcome.

    All essays must follow the format of Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition). Essays submitted for the special issue, but not selected, may be considered general submissions and may be selected for publication. In order to ensure a confidential peer review, remove any identifying information, including citations that refer to you as the author in the first person. Cite previous publications, etc. with your last name to preserve your anonymity in the reading process. Include your name, address, email, the title of your essay, and your affiliation in a cover letter or cover sheet for your essay. It is the author’s responsibility to secure any necessary copyright permissions and essays may not progress into the publication stage without written proof of right to reprint. Images with captions must be submitted in a separate file as 300 dpi (or higher) tiff files with captions. Please indicate placement of images in the text.

    This CFP stems from a call for papers originally posted for the 2020 Modern Language Association convention.
    Helga Lénárt-Cheng is Associate Professor in World Languages and Cultures and Global and Regional Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is co-author of a book on Alexander Lenard (Wanderer of Worlds, 2016) and of numerous articles. Her research focuses on autobiography, immigration, digital trends in life writing, and theories of subjectivity and community.
    Megan Brown is Professor of English at Drake University and the author of two books: American Autobiography After 9/11 (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017) and The Cultural Work of Corporations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Her work has also appeared in Biography, Assay, Women’s Studies Quarterly, College Literature,South Atlantic Quarterly, and Cultural Studies. She teaches courses in memoir and autobiography, personal essay, and American literature.

    This topic was also posted in: GS Nonfiction Prose, GS Life Writing.
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