Books and special issues of journals – Deadlines October to December 2021

Unorthodox Minds: Innovative Exchanges Between Cognitive Studies, Narrative Theory and Contemporary Fiction
An edited collection of essays
Deadline for proposals: 1 October 2021

Edited by Grzegorz Maziarczyk and Joanna Klara Teske

In recent years research on the subject of consciousness, cognition, and the human mind has been constantly gaining momentum. New theories take emotions to be information processing programs which control the work of subprograms responsible for perception, attention or conceptual frameworks (Tooby and Cosmides), construe mental states − our subjective experience − as having no causal power (Dennett), claim that we read the minds of the others by simulating their experience (Goldman), submit that instead of being rational in our actions we simply post hoc rationalize them with the help of the interpreter module, confabulating when needs be (Gazzaniga). These and similar cutting-edge conceptualisations of consciousness and cognition have already attracted attention of both novelists (Peter Watts, Ian McEwan, David Lodge, Tom McCarthy, Julian Barnes) and narrative (postclassical) theorists (Monika Fludernik, Alan Palmer, David Herman, Lisa Zunshine).

In 2016 and 2017 we edited two collections of essays on works of fiction investigating the human mind: Novelistic Inquiries into the Mind (Cambridge Scholars Publishing) and Explorations of Consciousness in Contemporary Fiction (Brill). Though the two volumes have helped to fill an important gap in the literature, they have not exhausted the subject. Contemporary fiction as well as contemporary narrative studies seem to engage more than ever in interaction with cognitive studies and philosophy of mind offering provocative ideas and/or original means of their expression.

We invite proposal submissions for a forthcoming edited collection concerning recent developments in cognitive science and philosophy of mind and their reverberations in narrative theory and contemporary English-language fiction. We are especially interested in innovative theories of mind and equally innovative works of literature, which offer unorthodox representations of the human mind.

We welcome research papers focused on any of the following issues:

  •  postclassical analyses of techniques for showing mental states/cognition in narrative fiction,
  •  literary responses to narrative theories of the mind,
  •  literary reception (in narrative studies and fiction) of phenomenological interpretations of the mindful body/ the embodied mind (rejecting the post-Cartesian dualism),
  •  the use of experimental narrative strategies to problematize mental experience (cf. works such as The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway, Woman’s World by Graham Rawle, The House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski or The Breathing Wall by Kate Pullinger, Stefan Schemat and babel),
  •  unnatural minds of narrative texts: examination of human minds carried out within the framework of unnatural narratology,
  •  new interpretations of the role of emotions and affect in contemporary fiction and/or narrative theory,
  •  analyses of literary representations of the impact of the Internet and, more generally, contemporary digital culture on the human mind,
  •  cultural minds: “fictional” representations of cultural differences between minds,
  •  the idea of the constructedness of the self: the role of the imagination in human subjective experience as explored in postmodern (meta)fiction,
  •  notions of extended mind and intermental thinking: their use in narrative theory and/or fiction,
  •  interactivism as a radically new interpretation of cognition: its reflection in narrative theory and fiction,
  •  “fictional” discussions on artificial intelligence and what they can reveal about the nature of the mind,
  •  literary discussions on the subject of ethical consequences of recent developments in the theory of mind (ideas such as physical determinism, constructivism, epiphenomenalism),
  •  novelistic attempts to anticipate the future evolution of the human mind (posthumanity).

Proposals (250-word abstracts) should be submitted to grzegorz.maziarczyk@kul.pl and joanna.teske@kul.pl by October 01, 2021. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by October 30, 2021. Final papers will be expected by March 01, 2022. We hope to be able to publish the collection by the end of 2022.

We would like to ask the authors to follow the MLA stylesheet (8th edition) and use British English spelling. Please attach a brief biographical note to your abstract.

Grzegorz Maziarczyk, Associate Professor of Literary Theory
Joanna Klara Teske, Associate Professor of Literary Studies
Institute of Literary Studies
John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Al. Racławickie 14, 20-950 Lublin, Poland

(posted 4 May 2021)


Literature and peripheries
Polifemo no. 23, 2022
Deadline for proposals: 1 October 2021

The ‘periphery’ has long been the scene for the most pressing wagers of urban, economic and social development: in its various, often unfortunately negative aspects, the periphery constitutes a node of transition and inevitable connection between the ‘centre’ and the ‘outside’ of the city, maintaining opposing characteristics towards both, and acting as an identity-creating workshop for ‘middle-earth society’, where degradation is mixed with opportunities and is redeemed by creative energy.

The periphery is an extremely mobile place, in both time and space: it changes according to epochs and the cities where it is located, seeing that today there are ‘internal’ peripheries, characterised by situations of social marginalisation, cultural and emotional deprivation, and a lack of opportunities.

It is a mutable ‘object’ and for this reason continually eludes evaluations: if, on the one hand, it is defined by subtraction in relation to the terms of reference with which it is compared, on the other hand, it is now finding its place in the imagination as an accumulation of the multiple meanings acquired over time. The metaphorical (and re-semanticised – in an anthropological, linguistic and cultural sense) use of the term therefore makes use of different connotations, seen as values or as disvalues, depending on the diaphasic contexts and, above all, on the internal or external gaze of those who narrate the peripheries.

Nowadays, the periphery is a theme that has been so well covered by the arts (literature, the visual arts, music) and by the humanities in general (social, linguistic, anthropological and historical sciences) that it has now acquired a classic status, which must now attempt to find an interdisciplinary epistemological structure.

This thematic issue of Polifemo will welcome the work of researchers from the various disciplines – literary and other arts – who are studying the theme proposed.

Among the topics that may be developed, we can mention by way of example:

  • the role of language and literature in the formation of the concept of ‘periphery’ with reference to some specific cases;
  • the metaphor of the periphery and its connotations;
  • the peripheries of literature (the noir genre and others);
  • the literature of the peripheries;
  • the condition of young people in the peripheries.

Other proposals for study on the subject put forward by those intending to collaborate in the publication will be examined by the Scientific Committee, in order to widen the field of exploration undertaken in this issue of the Magazine. Contributions will be accepted in Italian, English and French.

To this end, the Editorial Board proposes the following deadlines: a preliminary and essential step is the sending, to redazione.polifemo@iulm.it, of an abstract (min.10/max.20 lines), keywords and a brief curriculum vitae of the proposer, by 1st October 2021 (absolute deadline). The Editorial Office will confirm to the authors the acceptance of the contributions by 15 October 2021. The deadline for submission of contributions is 15th February 2022.

All contributions will be subject to double blind peer review. The issue, edited by Prof. Giovanna Rocca and Prof. Marta Muscariello, will be published in June 2022.

(posted 5 May 2021)


Theorizing Literary Animals
Special issue 2/2022 of Studia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai Philologia
Deadline for proposals: 1 November 2021

Guest editor: Dr. Ema Vyroubalova, Trinity College Dublin

This special issue seeks essays in English that engage with as well as challenge existing work in animal studies in relation to literary texts and/or theories from across different genres, historical periods, and linguistic and national traditions. Topics for possible essays include the following:

  • relationship between animal studies and literary theory and/or history
  • theorizing human-animal hybridities and continuities in literary texts
  • alternatives to anthropocentrism and/or anthropomorphism in literary criticism and theory
  • intersectionality and animal studies
  • triangulating between animal studies, ecocriticism and literary theory/studies
  • animals and translation theory
  • impact of the animal rights movement on literature
  • pedagogical approaches to combining animal and literary studies

Timeline:

  • 1 November 2021 – proposal submission deadline (200-word abstract, 7 keywords, 5 theoretical references, 150-word author’s bio-note)
  • 15 November 2021 – notification about acceptance
  • 1 February 2022 – submission of full papers (Instructions for authors regarding formatting rules and style sheets can be found on the journal’s webpage: http://studia.ubbcluj.ro/serii/philologia/pdf/Instructions_En.pdf)
  • 30 June 2022 – publication of the special-themed issue

Please send your abstracts and papers to both email addresses: studia.philologia@lett.ubbcluj.ro and vyroubae@tcd.ie

(posted 22 February 2021)

Books and special issues of journals – Deadlines July to September 2021

Intercultural Communication and Ubiquitous Learning in Multimodal English Language Education
Call for chapters for an edited volume
Proposals Submission Deadline: 15 July 2021
  • Soraya García-Sánchez, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
  • Richard Clouet, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

Today’s society demands empirical findings towards English Language Education (ELE) for greater multimodal intercultural communication that responds to ubiquitous learners’ context and competences. Learning English is not limited to face-to-face or distant classroom programs, but it implies reaching successful communication and communicative mediation with different spaces and cultures transforming foreign language learning into an intercultural and collaborative experience. Moreover, English Language Education is ubiquitous since it happens inside and outside the classroom and it is often supported by Computer/Mobile Assisted Language Learning (CALL/MALL). This ubiquity necessarily links with online multimodal communication that allows ELE learners to engage in different types of interactions using different mediums (written, spoken, visual, audiovisual, …). Under the constant transformations in the fields of Applied Linguistics and, in particular, in English Language Education, there exists a need for an edited collection of the latest original research in this area.

This Call for Chapters (CFC) calls for submissions to the edited book Intercultural Communication and Ubiquitous Learning in Multimodal English Language Education. The main subject area of this book is Applied Linguistics, a research discipline covering real-world language situations. This book will aim to report current empirical research methods and review relevant theoretical advances in English language learning, linked to applied technologies and action research for experiential situations in English as a Foreign Language (EFL), English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) and English for Specific Purposes (ESP). It will deal with the most innovative approaches to English Language Education from an intercultural and communicative perspective that would cover key concepts such as collaborative ubiquitous learning and multimodal communication. Qualitative and quantitative studies are welcome.

The target audience of this book will be composed of academics, researchers, and educators working in the fields of Applied Linguistics, English Language Education (ubiquitous learning, collaborative learning, mediation and engagement as interactive communicative strategies), intercultural communication and CALL/MALL. Likewise, the book will provide insightful pedagogical advances for successful English Language Education, knowledge acquisition and communication skills concerning experiential learning environments for English as a Foreign Language (EFL), English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), English for Specific Purposes (ESP).

The proposed articles should be written in English and focused on, but not limited to: – (Technology and Pedagogical) Advances in CALL/MALL for English Language Communication – Multimodal Communication in EFL/ELF/ESP – Multimodal English Language Education – English Language Ecosystems set in a (Telle-)Collaborative Ubiquitous Learning Approach – English as a Lingua Franca and Intercultural Communication – Strategies towards Intercultural Communication – Intercultural Communicative Competence: Experiential Learning Approaches – CEFR Mediation and Intercultural Communication – CEFR Approaches towards Communicative Mediation in English Language Learning

Researchers and practitioners are invited to submit on or before July 15, 2021, a chapter proposal of 1,000 to 2,000 words clearly explaining the mission and concerns of his or her proposed chapter. Authors will be notified by July 29, 2021 about the status of their proposals and sent chapter guidelines.Full chapters are expected to be submitted by January 20, 2022, and all interested authors must consult the guidelines for manuscript submissions at https://www.igi-global.com/publish/contributor-resources/before-you-write/ prior to submission. All submitted chapters will be reviewed on a double-blind review basis. Contributors may also be requested to serve as reviewers for this project.

Note: There are no submission or acceptance fees for manuscripts submitted to this book publication, Intercultural Communication and Ubiquitous Learning in Multimodal English Language Education. All manuscripts are accepted based on a double-blind peer review editorial process.

All proposals should be submitted through the eEditorial Discovery® online submission manager.

This book is scheduled to be published by IGI Global (formerly Idea Group Inc.), an international academic publisher of the “Information Science Reference” (formerly Idea Group Reference), “Medical Information Science Reference,” “Business Science Reference,” and “Engineering Science Reference” imprints. IGI Global specializes in publishing reference books, scholarly journals, and electronic databases featuring academic research on a variety of innovative topic areas including, but not limited to, education, social science, medicine and healthcare, business and management, information science and technology, engineering, public administration, library and information science, media and communication studies, and environmental science. For additional information regarding the publisher, please visit https://www.igi-global.com. This publication is anticipated to be released in 2022.

Important Dates

  • July 15, 2021: Proposal Submission Deadline
  • July 29, 2021: Notification of Acceptance
  • January 20, 2022: Full Chapter Submission
  • March 10, 2022: Review Results Returned
  • April 30, 2022: Final Acceptance Notification
  • May 15, 2022: Final Chapter Submission

Inquiries

Soraya García-Sánchez, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: soraya.garcia@ulpgc.es

Richard Clouet, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: richard.clouet@ulpgc.es

The full call for chapters can be found at https://www.igi-global.com/publish/call-for-papers/call-details/5180

(posted 8 April 2021)


Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria
A special issue of Cycnos
Deadline for proposals: 20 July 2021

It is our pleasure to launch a call for papers for a special issue of Cycnos entirely dedicated to Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria. The volume is mainly meant for the students and teachers of the Agrégation in France consequently, the papers may bear upon the whole novel and analyse its thematic, generic, historic, political, ethical, rhetorical or structural aspects and in this case the articles may be written in French or in English; or the papers may bear upon a specific excerpt and take the form of a close reading and in that case the articles will have to be written in English.

We expect the proposals for the 20th of July 2021. Our response will be given by the 1st of August and the completed papers will have to reach us by the 1st of October for a publication at the beginning of November 2021 – so that all the Agrégation students may have access to the volume before the written exams.

Thank you for sending a title and an abstract (around 300 words) as well as a short résumé (around 200 words) to Vanessa Guignery and Christian Gutleben :

vanessa.guignery@ens-lyon.fr

christian.gutleben@univ-cotedazur.fr

(posted 20 April 2021)

Calls for papers – Conferences taking place in August 2022

16th ESSE Conference Mainz 2022
Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany, 29 August – 2 September
Deadlines : see the detail in this post

Department of English and Linguistics, Faculty of Philosophy and Philology, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
and Deutscher Anglistenverband (German Society for the Study of English)
look forward to welcoming you to the 16th ESSE Conference in Mainz, Germany, Monday

DEADLINES

  • Submission of proposals for Parallel Lectures (nomination by national associations): 31 May 2021
  • Submission of proposals for Seminars and Round Tables (proposals from prospective convenors): 31 May 2021
  • Submission of individual papers for Seminars and the Doctoral Symposium, as well as proposals for Round Tables and Posters: 31 January 2022
  • Registration will begin on 1 March 2022

CALL FOR SEMINARS, ROUND TABLES AND PARALLEL LECTURES

ESSE members are invited to submit proposals for seminars and round tables on topics related to our fields of study: English Language (including Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies), Literatures in English, and Cultural and Area Studies. Proposals for seminars and round tables should be submitted directly to the Academic Programme Committee (APC) at ESSE2022@uni-mainz.de. National Associations are invited to nominate potential lecturers. Suggestions for lecturers should be sent to the presidents or representatives of the national associations, who will send the nominations to the APC. PROGRAMME FORMAT SEMINARS – Proposals for seminars on topics within the three fields mentioned above should be submitted jointly by two ESSE members from two different national associations. The degree of international appeal will be one of the selection criteria used by the APC. In exceptional cases, the APC may permit one of the two convenors not to be an ESSE member (e.g. because they come from outside Europe), if it is argued that their presence is especially important for the seminar. Seminar proposals must include the names, affiliations and e-mail addresses of the convenors and a 100-word description of the topic. Unlike round tables, seminars are not preconstituted events and will therefore be included within the APC’s future call for papers, although convenors may take an active role in approaching potential participants. The seminar format is intended to encourage lively participation on the part of both speakers and members of the audience. For this reason, papers should be orally presented rather than read. Further directions will follow in the call for papers.

ROUND TABLES – The aim of round tables is to present topics and problems currently seen as shaping the nature of the discipline. At a round table a pre-constituted panel discusses issues of fairly general scholarly or professional interest in front of (and subsequently with) an audience. In
other words, round tables are not sequences of papers, but debate sessions. Proposals should include a 100-word description of the topic and the names and affiliations of at least three participants (including the convenor), who must be drawn from more than one national association. The maximum number of speakers will be five.

PLENARY LECTURES – A number of distinguished keynote speakers, including at least one representing each of the three main fields covered by ESSE (English Language, Literatures in English, and Cultural and Area Studies), will give plenary lectures by direct invitation of the organizers.

PARALLEL LECTURES – In addition to the plenary lectures, there will be approximately 12 parallel lectures given by ESSE members nominated by their national associations. These parallel lectures are expected to have wide appeal and to reflect recent developments in scholarship in one of the three areas mentioned above. They will be fifty minutes in length. National associations should forward a description of their nominee’s proposed topic together with a brief summary of his or her CV. Each national association can propose up to three lecturers, each of them in one of the three main fields mentioned above, so that the APC can have a wide range of options
for the final selection. Please note that ESSE will not finance the parallel lecturers’ costs of attending the conference, but that their conference fees will be waived.

POSTERS – Posters will be devoted to research-in-progress and project presentations. The aim is to provide additional opportunities for feedback
and personal contacts. Further details will appear on the ESSE Messenger website; the deadline for posters will be 31 January 2022.

DOCTORAL SYMPOSIUM – Young scholars who are writing their PhD theses in English studies may apply to make a brief presentation of their work-in-progress at one of three workshops in the fields of English Language, Literatures in English, and Cultural and Area Studies respectively. These presentations should deal with the issues/hypotheses addressed in the thesis, the results so far obtained and above all the methodology applied, with the purpose of getting feedback from peers and
established scholars in the field. Each workshop will be coordinated by two international experts, who will select from the applications and convene the corresponding sessions. Enquiries about this feature should be addressed to Emeritus Professor J. Lachlan Mackenzie (VU University Amsterdam,
NL): lachlan_mackenzie@hotmail.com. Further details will appear on th ESSE Messenger website; the deadline for the submission of applications
will be 31 January 2022.

ACADEMIC PROGRAMME COMMITTEE

Professor Anita Auer (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
Professor Işıl Baş (Istanbul Kultur University, Turkey)
Professor Rainer Emig (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany)
Professor Anja Müller-Wood (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz,
Germany)
Professor Vincent Renner (University of Lyon, France)
Professor Titela Vîlceanu (University of Craiova, Romania)
Professor Susanne Wagner (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz,
Germany)

PROPOSALS FOR SEMINARS, ROUND TABLES, LECTURES AND POSTERS
ESSE2022@uni-mainz.de

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT 16TH ESSE CONFERENCE, Mainz 2022
https://esse2022.uni-mainz.de

Call for Posters
Please send your proposals for Posters to ESSE2022@uni-mainz.de.
Deadline: 31 January 2022

Call for Seminar Papers
The Call for Seminar Papers will open in September 2021 when the seminars have been chosen.
Scholars wishing to present their paper at the ESSE 2022 Conference in Mainz are invited to submit 200-word abstracts of their proposed presentations directly to the convenors of the respective seminars.
Deadline for abstracts: 31 January 2022
In most seminar sessions, the presentations will be limited to 20 minutes including discussion.

Doctoral Symposium
One of the features of the 16th ESSE Conference is the Doctoral Symposium, which continues an ESSE tradition dating from 2012 and is designed to provide a platform for young scholars to present and receive feedback on their work. The Symposium is open to PhD students who are writing their theses in English Studies and are at least in the second year of work on their doctorate at the time of the Symposium. To be eligible, either their supervisor or they themselves must be known to the Treasurer of
ESSE as a member of an ESSE-affiliated Association (or, in relevant countries, of a Department that belongs to an ESSE-affiliated Association)
at the moment of application.
Participants will have an opportunity to make a brief presentation of their work in progress in one of three strands: English Language & Linguistics, Literatures in English, and Cultural & Area Studies. Their presentation should deal with the issues addressed or hypotheses tested in their doctoral research, the results so far obtained, and above all the methodology applied, with the purpose of gaining feedback from established scholars in the field and from their peers. Each presentation will last no longer than 10 minutes, followed by 15 minutes’ discussion. Participants are expected to attend all the presentations in their own strand and to take part in the discussions. There will also be extensive opportunities for informal contact with other participants and with the academics present at the conference. The Symposium will be opened by the President of ESSE.
Note that each PhD student can submit an application to only one strand of the Doctoral Symposium and should specify in the application which strand they wish to be placed in. Applications must include a letter from the student’s PhD supervisor giving the (provisional) title of the dissertation and confirming that the student is working under his/her supervision and has completed at least his/her first year of PhD studies. The Treasurer of ESSE will check the eligibility of all applicants and their supervisors. Participants in the Doctoral Symposium can participate fully in the ESSE Conference and can, if they so wish and their abstract is accepted, present a paper in one of the seminars.
The application should take the form of a summary of the project of no more than 300 words, indicating:
• The main topic and issues, including the thesis proposed/hypothesis
defended;
• The methodology (theoretical tools and standpoints);
• Where relevant, the corpus under consideration;
• The results obtained so far.
Each strand of the Symposium will be coordinated by two experts (to be known as Convenors). They will make a selection from the applications received, chair the discussions and respond to the presentations.
Applying to participate
Applications (including the letter from the applicant’s supervisor) should be sent, no later than 31 January 2022, to the Coordinator of the ESSE Doctoral Symposium, Professor J. Lachlan Mackenzie (VU Amsterdam, Netherlands) at lachlan_mackenzie@hotmail.com, to whom general enquiries can also be addressed. The eligibility check and the selection of submissions by the Convenors will be completed and announced by 15 February 2022.

Applying for financial support
Those applicants who have been selected for participation can apply to ESSE between 15 and 28 February 2022 for financial support, to a maximum of €500 per applicant. Eligible expenses are airfares, ground transportation costs and accommodation. Applicants for financial support must themselves be members of their national associations affiliated to ESSE, except for those whose associations do not consider PhD students eligible as members; in this case, their supervisors or the department to
which they are affiliated must be members of an association affiliated to ESSE. Applications for financial support will be considered during March by a Committee consisting of the Coordinator of the ESSE Doctoral Symposium and the three Convenors from the ESSE Board; the Committee’s definitive decision will be communicated to all applicants by 30 March 2022.
Applications for financial support should be sent, no later than 28 February 2022, to the Coordinator of the ESSE Doctoral Symposium, Professor J. Lachlan Mackenzie (VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands) at lachlan_mackenzie@hotmail.com. Each application for financial support should include three documents (in attachment to the e-mail of application):
• the applicant’s CV;
• a letter detailing the applicant’s eligibility clearly and fully explaining the need for financial support, including a provisional budget for travel costs and/or accommodation expenses;
• a signed statement from the applicant’s supervisor, including a declaration that it is impossible for the applicant to draw on private means or any other sources of funding, including funding earmarked for the ongoing doctoral project, for the purpose of participating in the ESSE Doctoral Symposium.
Please note that ESSE’s decisions about selection for participation and about financial support are final and not subject to appeal.

(posted 10 April 2021)

 

Calls for papers – Conferences taking place in June 2022

“‘Game Over!’: U.S. Drama and Theater and the End(s) of an American Idea(l)” – 6th International Conference on American Drama and Theater
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain, 1-3 June 2022
Deadline for abstracts: 15 October 2021

Conference website: https://sites.google.com/view/americandramaconfmadrid2022

The Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, co-sponsored by the Spanish universities of Cádiz and Sevilla and the University of Lorraine in France, and working in partnership with the American Theater and Drama Society (ATDS), the International Susan Glaspell Society, the Arthur Miller Society, the Eugene O’Neill Society, and RADAC (Recherches sur les arts dramatiques anglophones contemporains), is announcing a call for papers for the conference “‘Game Over!’: U.S. Drama and Theater and the End(s) of an American Idea(l) to be held from 1 to 3 June 2022 at La Cristalera, located in the accessible northern mountains of Madrid.

This 6th International Conference on American Drama and Theater will be dedicated to the study of ends and new beginnings, games and gaming, players and playing, especially during, but not limited to, the current coronavirus pandemic. The five previous conferences were held in Málaga, 2000; Málaga, 2004; Cádiz, 2009; Sevilla, 2012; and Nancy (France), 2018; topics included violence, plays and players, politics, romance and migrations in and of the theater.

The following keynote speakers have accepted to join us:

  • Linda Ben-Zvi (Professor Emeritae, Colorado State University and Tel-Aviv University)
  • Christopher Bigsby (Emeritus Professor, University of East Anglia)
  • Lauren Gunderson (Playwright and screenwriter)
  • Stephen Scott-Bottoms (Professor, University of Manchester)
  • Harvey Young (Professor, Boston University)

Those of a certain age will no doubt remember the video games back in the 1970s and 80s, or even those today, which purveyed hours of fun and excitement, whether at a local arcade (Space Invaders, Asteroids, Pac-Man) or on a console in the family den (Atari, Nintendo, Intellivison, Gameboy, and more recently Xbox and PlayStation). Every time the screen displayed the legend “Game Over!,” feelings of frustration and exhilaration conjoined: another quarter inserted, another reset button hit, and the promise of a new game and recording the highest score quickly erased all anxieties and fostered hope that, this time, the outcome would be better.

Repeated endings and renewed beginnings is a trope that lies at the heart of American optimism and, to a certain extent, U.S. drama and theater. The nation is universally known for finding ways to spin a loss into a potential new victory. Over the centuries, just the simple grafting of the word “new” onto appropriated lands (New World, New England, New York, New Mexico) or exhausted ideologies (New Deal, New Journalism, New Left, New Right, New Green Deal) reinjected the promise of a different tomorrow. Reinvention is almost a Constitutional right in America, and the U.S. stage over the years has been a privileged site on which to explore, exhibit and exercise the limits of that presumed right.

In recent years, though, cracks in American optimism have extended, and the United States in once again confronting that nihilist legend, in bold type and in glaring letters, burdened, as it were, with the task of inserting another quarter (of a trillion dollars) into the economy or again hitting reset on a (Presidential and Congressional) political agenda to right past wrongs, jibe from a deviated course, or blaze a new trail. In 2020 alone, not since the Civil War has the nation of E pluribus unum had to reckon with the reality of its more truthful motto, E pluribus duo. Lacking a coherent response to the coronavirus pandemic, watching its streets implode time and time again during the Black Lives Matter movement, tugging ceaselessly at the gossamer threads of an unraveling national fabric, the Disunited States of America – and, by extension, its drama and theater – has found itself at yet another crossroads, wondering once again if the game, this time, is really over.

But which game, and who are the players? On one level, eschatology has underwritten the American narrative since the nation’s founding, and evangelical devotion has been proffered as the sole panacea to (re)save the nation from itself. On another level, several visionaries, from Royal Tyler in The Contrast to Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton, have warned against the inevitable solvency of warring political ideologies. Regardless of which position is most tenable over time, our conference title points to the fact that as soon as one “game” ends, another one begins. Games are, by definition, won and lost, played in solitaire or with/against another person. Can America keep resetting itself and start the game anew at each crossroads it encounters? And what role does/should art play in recording those conflicts or in influencing policy? Are the players themselves – playwrights, producers, actors, audiences alike – willing or even capable of continuing to play by the same rules? How have American playwrights reacted or risen to these challenges, today and in the past? Are they still optimistic, or is the fun over, a ghost of adolescent nostalgia?

The idea of a game also suggests play (in all of it semantic variants) and, as such, experimenting, discovering, trying out new things. How, exactly, is U.S. theater and drama renewing itself, especially at a time when theater culture has been put on hold due to the pandemic, and theaters and companies from Broadway to Main Street are struggling just to survive? Video games have evolved from the telos of Pong to the multiple endings of online games, where technological advances are only partly responsible for the renewed interest from one generation of players to the next. Is innovation a thing of the past on the U.S. stage, despite its avant-gardist fascination with multimedia? Is the present pandemic forcing theater in America – from Zoomed stage readings, through plays written online in collaboration, to holding masterclasses in playwriting and acting online – to reinvent itself, to become more immersive or at least participatory in something different from improv? Could the fourth wall definitively fall?

Historically, American playwrights have taught us the enduring nature of theater and drama, especially at times when the nation has hit the “pause” button. But can the game simply resume where we had left it suspended? The shuttered English theater surely survived its bouts with the plague, popish plots, and a civil war, but what emerged onstage afterwards had little in common with the drama that preceded it. Must the U.S. theater explore new avenues, or should it rely on past modes of expression to insure its longevity? Is the fragile artistic market welcoming of new adventures and willing to give new playwrights and theater artists the space wherein to truly play? Did it ever in the past, or is nostalgia for a golden age merely revisionist in nature? All of these questions are closely linked to the idea(l) that America has somehow been endowed with many “ends,” but are they limited in number and, if so, how many “lives” in the proverbial video game has the nation already used up, and how many still remain?

Answers to these and other questions await us in Miraflores de la Sierra, Madrid, in June 2022. Individual papers or collective panels are invited to respond directly to them, or to suggest other avenues of discussion and debate linked to the study of games and gaming, players and playing, ends and new beginnings in U.S. drama and theater from any watershed period in the nation’s history.

To submit a paper, a roundtable discussion, or an already organized panel, please send abstracts of 300 words and a brief CV to gameoverconferencemadrid@gmail.com by 15 October 2021.

Please check the conference website for updated information on conference venue, accommodation, travel and registration (https://sites.google.com/view/americandramaconfmadrid2022)

Organizing committee
John S. Bak, Université de Lorraine
Alfonso Ceballos Muñoz, Universidad de Cádiz
Ramón Espejo Romero, Universidad de Sevilla
Josefa Fernández Martin, Universidad de Sevilla
Noelia Hernando Real, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

(posted 10 April 2021)