“‘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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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)
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)
INTERFACES: Representing Human and Environmental Vulnerability in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
University of Granada, Spain, 9-10 June 2022
Deadline for proposals: 20 December 2021
Since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center somberly inaugurated the new millennium, critical discourses on trauma, grieving and vulnerability have gained relevance in the academic sphere. The global dimension of these events was however based on their mediatic repercussion worldwide, rather than on the actual physical impact that they had on the world population. Throughout the following two decades of the twenty-first century, intersecting environmental, economic and technological developments into globalization are revealing a heightened awareness of a similarly global vulnerability that visibilize embodied forms of ongoing trauma, public grieving and structural oppression of precarious life forms and environmental conditions. These stand against the backdrop of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4th IR), which is ambiguously put forward as either the origin or solution of this situation. The last two years of SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic have intensified the interdependence of virtual connection and social alienation/exclusion relating techno-digital hyperconnectedness and embodied forms of existence, giving a new sense to the concept of “risk society” developed at the turn of the century (Beck 1992; Giddens 1998).
In this conference, we aim to identify and critically explore the forms of human and environmental vulnerabilities that are generated in the context of the 4th IR, including vulnerable forms of human and non-human intersubjectivity as online embodied (onlife) interfaces or “inforgs” (Maynard 2015), precarious life and working conditions resulting from the global dimension of the 4th IR, environmental forms of vulnerability in the 4th IR, the role of the pandemic in raising awareness about global vulnerability, or the hierarchical naturecultures (Haraway 2003) emerging from transhumanist ethics. This conference will focus on literary and filmic discourses that represent human and environmental vulnerabilities as the object of aesthetic spectacularization (Garland-Thomson 1997, 2017) in an information-saturated trade market, with special incidence on forms of human vulnerability based on economic and environmental precariousness (Butler 2004; 2009; Butler et al. 2016; Butler 2020) as well as disability. It will also explore the instrumentalization as a narrative prosthesis (Mitchell and Snyder 2000) of human and ecological vulnerability as in the construction of the transhumanist ideologies underlying most of 4th IR from a posthumanist critical perspective.
Suggested topics for papers might include but are not restricted to:
• COVID19: Grieving through The Great Reset
• Onlife Vulnerable Economies and Vulnerable Embodiments
• Narrative and Digital Prosthesis
• Glitch as vulnerability in Digital Compositions
• Vulnerable Naturecultures
• Online Exposure and Spectacular Vulnerabilities
• Global Economies and Environmental Precarity
• Neoliberal Economies and Digital Precarity
• Online Transparency as a form of political and subjective vulnerability
• Liquidity and Vulnerability
• New Human and Environmental Ontologies (bioart, biotechnologies, bioethics)
• Consumerist ethics: global food and information markets
• Gendered Inforgs
• Singularity and Difference
• New risk societies: threats to democracy, threats to intimacy
• Animal vulnerability
There will be two different participation modalities:
• On-site participation at the university of Granada with a 20-minute paper plus 10-minute discussion.
• Online participation: delegates will record their presentations and upload them to the conference website, where they will be available during the celebration of the conference.
Scholars interested can submit their proposals to the email address email@example.com, specifying in the email subject: Interfaces Conference. Proposals in pdf format must include the following information: 1) tentative title, 2) abstract (400-500 words including works cited), 3) the participation modality (onsite or online), and 4) a bionote (maximum 200 words, including contact details, institutional affiliation, research interests and most relevant/recent publications). This document must be entitled with the scholar’s surname and name. Example: Beck_Ulrick.pdf
• Abstract Submission: Dec 20, 2021
• Notification of Acceptance: Jan 31, 2022
• Onsite: 100€
• Online 75€
This conference is organized by the Research Group GRACO: Studies in Literature, Criticism and Culture (HUM676) and funded by the European Union and the Andalusian Government under Research Project “INTERFACES” (P20_00008)
(posted 21 July 2021)
Virginia Woolf and Ethics: 31st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf
Lamar University (Beaumont, TX, USA), June 9-12, 2022
Deadline for papers and panels: 31 January 2022
The 31st annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf takes as its theme “Virginia Woolf and Ethics,” and aims to promote conversation about the topic across disciplinary boundaries. We hope to explore Woolf’s engagement with specific ethical issues in her writing. These may include, but are not limited to, war and pacifism, human rights, human-animal relations, environmental ethics, bioethics, fascism, empire, patriarchy, racism, and bigotry.
The theme also suggests a reconsideration of Woolf in relation to various ethical approaches. For instance, participants may wish to read Woolf’s thought in conversation with care ethics, narrative ethics, moral psychology, moral imagination, moral luck, virtue ethics, deontology, utilitarianism, communitarianism, liberalism, religious or spiritual ethics (Christian, Quaker, Jewish, Buddhist, Indigenous, etc.), or other moral theories or concepts. Papers might address the moral philosophy of Woolf’s milieu, including the thought of Russell, Moore, or Leslie Stephen. Participants may wish to consider Woolf’s thought with continental theorists such as Levinas, Derrida, Foucault, Irigaray, Kristeva, Badiou and others who address ethical concerns.
We invite participants to consider Woolf in relation to broader ethical considerations, such as the relation of ethics to reading practices (or to literature); ethics of teaching, scholarly community, and academic life; secularism, religion, and/or mysticism in Woolf’s thinking; and reading Woolf as an ethical (or social or political) theorist.
What might a Woolfian ethic look like? How might we read Woolf’s aesthetic practices in ethical terms (eg. narrative indeterminacy and the cultivation of certain forms of attention, moral imagination, or empathy)? How does Woolf navigate competing demands of justice, individual liberty and rights, and collectivity and social responsibility, in her fiction and non-fiction?
Papers on members of the Bloomsbury Group and other associates of Virginia Woolf in relation to the conference theme are also appropriate. We welcome proposals for papers, panels, roundtables, and workshops from scholars, students, artists, and common readers from all backgrounds and fields.
Abstracts of maximum 250 words for single papers and 500 words for panels, as well as questions, should be sent to Virginia.Woolf@lamar.edu by January 31, 2022.
The conference welcomes proposals for presentations in languages other than English to foster a more open exchange at this international conference. A few caveats: the organizers ask that all abstracts and proposals be submitted in English. Also, to ensure a more effective exchange among all participants, we ask that non-English presentations be accompanied by a handout of main points in English as well as (if possible) a PowerPoint presentation in English. Note that Q&A sessions will be conducted in English as well.
Possible topics and approaches may include:
- Ethics and reading, ethics of reading
- Ethical scholarly community and academic life
- Woolf as ethical/social/political theorist
- Human-animal relations, the natural world
- Racism, patriarchy, and bigotry
- The ethics of biography and life writing
- Woolfian teaching, ethics in teaching
- War, pacifism, fascism, empire, human rights
- Narrative practices, reading experiences
- Empathy, regard, attention
- Individuality and collectivity
- Knowledge, reason, objectivity, and certainty
- Secularism, religion, and spirituality
- A range of moral philosophies and concepts (listed above and extending further)
(posted 10 September 2021)