2011 Call for Papers

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2011 Informal Theme: Play...No, Seriously

As scholars of language, literature, and culture, and as creative writers, we take what we do seriously, and we take up serious issues and topics in our research. But we also have fun doing it: we “play” at being critics and scholars. Sometimes that play emerges from the texts and topics we consider, like parody, performance, and comedy. Sometimes it comes from the theoretical approaches we take, as when we consider deconstruction’s “play” of meanings, Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark, or the way postmodern subjects “play” different roles in their own lives. Sometimes play enables political subversion: flowers in gun-barrels and satires. At other times, play offers us a way of destabilizing dominant structures of thought and communication. Play also names the multiple interpretive possibilities enabled by a particular text or cultural phenomenon: so “play” can finally characterize critical and interpretive value. And so, while papers on any topic are welcome, the M/MLA particularly encourages papers that playfully engage with serious subjects or seriously consider playful subjects, as well as those that take play seriously (and vice versa).

If you are interested in submitting a paper for one of these sessions, please contact the session organizer directly. Individuals may not present in more than two sessions.

The CFPs are catagorized as follows:

Professionalizing Workshops

NEW - Learning is Fun?!? - The Importance of Playful Pedagogies

As both scholars and teachers, we have already acknowledged student engagement in the classroom as directly correlating to improved student learning outcomes and higher retention. Yet, although we may be passionate about the material we teach, students are oftentimes more difficult to win over. How, then, do we engage students in the topics about which we are passionate? This session focuses on the importance of using "play" in the classroom to promote student engagement and learning. "Play" is defined broadly, incorporating any and all teaching methodologies which creatively engage students when learning new material and/or make the material relatable and relevant to their lives. This includes, but is not limited to, Service-Learning projects, community engagement activities, in-class activities, assignments, games, readings, partner-work, and discussions. This session is open to a wide variety of conversations - both practical sessions incorporating classroom best-practices and researched-based discussions on learning outcomes and creative student engagement.

Please send an abstract of approximately 250 words to Katie Mader Halcrow at no later than July 11th.   

Chair: Katie Mader Halcrow, Minnesota School of Business


Manifestos! for Graduate Students and Recent PhDs

As universities adjust to new pressures, the experiences and ideas of graduate students remain largely unheard. This panel aims to create a public forum that uses the manifesto form to address issues facing graduate students and recent PhDs. Rather than an airing of grievances, we seek affirmative manifestos that expose the experiences, declare new approaches, and organize existing networks of graduate students and recent PhDs. Manifestos should be 1,000 words or less, and formal experimentation is encouraged. Submit a 250-word abstract to Maglina Lubovich ( and Steven Davis ( by June 3, 2011.

Possible topics might include:

  • Job Market/Alternatives
  • Coursework/Exams/Dissertation
  • Teaching/Funding
  • Research/Publishing
  • Race/Gender/Sexuality/Ability/Class/Religion and Academia
  • Medical/Mental Health
  • Undergraduate/Graduate/Adjunct/Faculty Collaboration
  • Balancing Family and Profession

Organizers: Steven Davis, Indiana University,; and Maglina Lubovich, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College,


Additional Professionalizing workshops will be forthcoming.

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Permanent Sections

African American Literature

Topic: No, Seriously...Is It Really Over? African American Literature After Jim Crow

In his provocative new book, What Was African American Literature? (2011), Kenneth Warren argues that African American literature ended with the legal abrogation of Jim Crow. Viewing the tradition as an historical response to white racism during a specific cultural moment, rather than an ongoing expressive artform, Warren not only identifies the key reading practices that should govern our critical approach to black literature produced during the first half of the twentieth-century, but he also questions our unwillingness to put the volatile past that this literature hinges upon behind us. Is African American literature, as we know it, really over? What's at stake in such a bold declaration? What does this mean for the future of African American literary studies? The profession? This panel seeks papers that address these and other related questions from any literary, cultural, or critical perspective. Please send 250 word abstracts by May 12 to Melissa Daniels, Dept. of English, Northwestern University,

Chair: Melissa Daniels, Northwestern University,

American Literature I: American Literature Before 1870

Topic: Transnational and Hemispheric Approaches to Nineteenth-Century American Literature

This panel focuses on transnational and hemispheric approaches to nineteenth-century American literature. We ask proposals to consider how American texts and authors address concepts of travel, empire, migration, national borders, and Atlantic modernity. In terms of the convention’s theme, we ask proposals to consider how texts upend concepts of nation through these different categories of analysis. Papers could explore, for example, the transnational aspects of space, time, translation, travel, gender, race, religion, literary and historical genealogies. Please send 250 word abstracts by May 12 to AnaMaria Seglie,

Chair: AnaMaria Seglie, Rice University,


American Literature II: Literature After 1870

This session will be held in 2011.

EXTENDED - Applied Linguistics

Topic: Second Language Learning/Teaching: Investment within the Context of a Changing Social Global World

Participants will explore the issue(s) of second/foreign language learning/teaching within the context of a changing social global world as it/they applies/apply to the learning and/or teaching of a second/foreign language. Topics on first language acquisition, language acquisition in general, language planning, bilingualism and/or applied linguistics in general are also wellcome.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to by July 1st.

Chair: Kashama Mulamba, Olivet Nazerene University,

Art What Thou Eat

Topic: Open

We welcome papers that explore all aspects of the representation of food in literature, art, music, film, and culture. Please send a 250-word abstract to Arline Cravens, Saint Louis University, Abstracts received by April 30, 2011 will be ensured full consideration.

Chair: Arline Cravens, Saint Louis University,

Bibliography and Textual Studies

Topic: Bibliography and Textual Studies: The American Civil War

The special section on bibliography and textual studies explores points of intersection between the literary studies and history of the book disciplines. Papers this year will focus on the American Civil War. Please send 250 word abstracts by May 12 to Matthew J Lavin,

Chair: Matthew J. Lavin, University of Iowa,

EXTENDED - Canadian Literature

Topic: No, I'm not American/Je suis pas fraçais: Canadian Writers Playing with Identity

Canadian witers in both French and English have historically been defined by who they are not: British, French, American. This uncertain and unstable national identity has now been embraced by many writers and is expressed through a great deal of playfulness in their writing. With works like Souvenirs from Canada by Douglas Coupland, Est-ce que cette grenade dans la main du Nègre est-il une arme ou un fruit? by Dany Laferrière, or Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King, Canadian writers have posed a critical eye on Canadian and American cultural and aesthetic norms. This panel invites papers that discuss how Canadian writers have played with the idea of being Canadian (in the broadest possible sense) in opposition to how others attempt to label them.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to by July 1st.

Chair: Lee Skallerup Bessette, University of Kentucky,

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EXTENDED - Children's Literature

Topic: Back on the Playground: "Grown-Up" Writers Writing Children's Literature

Lewis Carroll did it.  C.S. Lewis did it.  And today, the likes of Salman Rushdie, Louise Erdrich, Maya Angelou and Daniel Handler are doing it.  These authors are "heavy hitters" in the world of adult literature who have come to play in the realm of children's literature.  How do the contributions of a Nobel laureate like Rushdie shift critical views of children's literature -- a field that has traditionally been ghettoized by the academic elite?  Critic Judith Plotz once wrote that  "Rushdie can conflate the moral values of politics with the aesthetic values of child's play." Are other authors performing similar balancing acts--and to what effects?  When highly sophisticated and complex writers target children as an audience, it suggests their belief that these child readers may be similarly sophisticated and complex.  How do these authors' forays into the children's scene reflect changing views of children as readers, as thinkers, and as consumers?

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Megan Musgrave, by July 1st.

Chair: Megan Musgrave, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI),


EXTENDED - Comparative Literature

Topic: The Blame Game: The Politics of Guilt and Neo-Orientalism in the post-9/11 Era

"In the post-9/11 era there has been a surge of discourse about the “East-West conflict” and the responsible actors behind this phenomenon which has no doubt already defined the new century. Was it extremist Islamism, which motivated the new age terrorists, was it the hate for the Western ideals and lifestyles, or was it the neoconservative, right-wing political agenda, which was guilty for unilaterally using this momentum in the Iraq war? Have we really gotten into the realm of the “clash of civilizations” as was indicated by Huntington and Lewis, or is the neo-conservative doctrine of "fight for freedom and democracy” the new phase of neo-colonialism? Writers from myriad cultures, which these issues directly affect,  such as Rushdie, Hosseini, Pamuk and Updike have expressed their perspectives in many novels written in the last decade. In this session we will thus try to analyze the politics of blame in the context of postcolonial scholarship. As it is impractical and incomplete to try to understand this discourse without discussing the nineteenth century colonial practices of the British and the French in the Middle East, we also invite proposals which discuss earlier centuries from this perspective. 

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to by July 1st.

Chair: Beyazit Akman, Illinois State University,

Computer Research

This section will not be held in 2011.


Creative Writing I: Poetry

Topic: Open

Chair: Martha Modena Vertreace-Doody, Kennedy-King College,


Creative Writing II: Prose

Topic: Child's Play

Inviting submissions of short creative prose, fiction or non-fiction (please specify in your email) that treats in some way the idea of children and play.  Prose works are not restricted to dealing solely with children and play, but should contain some element (a scene, flashback, or image) that connects the piece to the theme of "Child's Play." Synopses of work or complete drafts are welcome. Please submit drafts/synopses as email attachments; a short biographical note would be helpful as well. Please send 250 word abstracts by May 12 to Gordon Reynolds, 

Chair: Gordon Reynolds, Ferris State University, 

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Topic: Comedy (Non-Shakespearean)

Papers on any aspect of dramatic comedy, comedy in drama, or other kinds of comedy performance other than from Shakepeare's plays. Please submit abstracts to Judith Roof, Rice University,

Chair: Judith Roof, Rice University,


English I: English Literature Before 1800

Topic: English Literature before 1800: Our Playful Past?

Chair: Rebecca Roma Stoll, University of Iowa,


English II: English Literature 1800-1900

Topic: Play

For the Permanent Session: English II: English Literature 1800-1900, we are hoping to form several different panels.  We are looking for papers that investigate the conference theme "Play" in problematic or evocative ways.  You might consider play in terms of performance, identity or represesntation, seriousness vs. dallying, wagering, strategy, being a player in a game, movement or action, or diversions/recreation. You might also consider idioms such as 'fair play' or 'foul play.'    

Chair: Stacey Kikendall, University of New Mexico,


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Fabricating the Body

Topic: Fabricating the Playful Body

The Fabricating the Body permanent section of the M/MLA is soliciting proposals for conference papers that analyze the playful body in literature and culture. In what ways does play fabricate the body (or not)? How does play theory and acts of play inform our understanding the body? We seek papers that analyze any genre or time period of literature. Please submit a 500 word abstract by April 30, 2011 to Tracy J. R. Collins,

Chair: Tracy J. R. Collins, Central Michigan University,

Film I

Topic: "Come play with us, Danny… for ever… and ever… and ever…":  The Appropriation of Childhood in Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Cinema

In keeping with 2011 informal convention theme of “Play…No, Seriously,” the Film I panel invites papers on the topic of the appropriation of children and childhood tropes to examine, critique, or subvert cinematic and cultural conventions in horror, fantasy, and science fiction films.  Possible avenues for exploration include how vampiric, demonic, otherworldly, robotic, or deformed children prey on conceptions of innocence and vulnerability within the film narrative and the viewing audience.  Other possible topics include the playing of deadly games, exemplified by Jigsaw’s mantra of “I want to play a game” in the Saw films, or the struggle against pint-sized terrors in toy form, as evidenced by Chucky from the Child’s Play series or even Lotso and Big Baby from the recent Toy Story 3.

Please submit a 250 word abstract by June 6, 2011 to Paul Huggins,

Chair: Paul Huggins, Southern Illinois University Carbondale,



Topic: Playful Interruptions in Recent Film

In Jean-Luc Nancy's The Inoperative Community representations are not just works of art (oeuvre); they also, in fact, work. Representations present "community" and thereby give a disparate group of beings an identity, borders, and a body. If representations work, what happens when a work founders, when it falls apart, and opens onto something else? Would this opening then be the place or space of play, even serious play?  What does this "absence of work" look like formally? What are the ethical consequences of such playful interruptions? Papers on non-mainstream directors are of particular interest

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to by July 1st.

Chair: Todd Comer, Defiance College,


Film III

Topic: Children and Teenagers in Latin American Film

How has Latin American cinema  represented children gazing at or experiencing traumatic events, either political or personal? In which ways does society influence the development of Latin American girls and boys and how has Latin American cinema responded to these challenges? Please submit a 250 word abstract by April 15th, 2011 to Carolina Rocha,

Possible topics are:

  • Girlhood/ Boyhood
  • Children, Exploitation and Impunity
  • Children and Fantasy
  • Children crossing Borders
  • Child Actors
  • Cinematic Bildungsroman
  • Innocence Lost
  • Screening Children

Chair: Carolina Rocha, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville,

EXTENDED - French I - Session A

Topic: Word play/Jeux de mots

Though light and airy on the surface, word play in literature can be indicative of deep-running irony, conflict or creation.  Papers are invited, in French or English, exploring any aspect of literary word play in French literature.  While broad, it is hoped that this topic will encourage submission of papers examining the very building blocks of texts:  the words themselves. 

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Dawn Cornelio,, by July 1st.

Chair: Dawn Cornelio, University of Guelph,


EXTENDED - French I: Literature before the Revolution - Session B

Topic: Women and Power in Ancien Régime France

Women in Ancien Régime France seldom occupied official positions of authority.  Nevertheless, a sufficient number of women of that era wielded enough power that they inspired literature intended to demean them, memoires written to diminish them, and laws designed to rein them in. This panel will focus on questions of power in relation to women in Ancien Régime France: the representation (including self-representation) of women in official positions of power, as well as that of women who relied on indirect and unofficial means of attaining and maintaining influence.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Kathleen Llewellyn, Saint Louis University, by July 1st.

Chair: Kathleen Llewellyn, Dept. of Modern & Classical Languages, Saint Louis University,

EXTENDED - French I: Literature before the Revolution - Session C

Topic: Play at Work: The Spectacle as Seduction and/or Subversion in pre-Revolutionary France

"Le spectacle n'est pas un ensemble d'images, mais un rapport social entre des personnes, médiatisés par des images".-Guy Debord

This session will explore the multiple social dimensions of play and spectacle in pre-Revolutionary France. Diverse discourses and modes of expression took "play" as a show, or designed "play" as a means to seduce or subvert. We welcome papers which analyze any of the following cultural topics: theater, iconography, festivals, architecture and gardens, nouvelles, essays,philosophy, letters and memoires.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to by July 1st.

Chair: Wendy Freeman, Rice University,

French II: Literature after the Revolution

Topic: From display to interplay: change and controversy in post-revolutionary French literature and society

The post-revolutionary era in France prompted great social, political, and literary movement. What was formerly on ‘display,’ in terms of the static subject during the monarchy and in society, revolutionized into the active subject, to the ‘play’ mode. Individual subjects, written works, and artistic objects moved from a ‘display’ status to one of ‘interplay’ or interaction of its participants. Papers in French or in English addressing these and related ideas may be emailed by April 30th, 2011 to Adeleen Brown,

Chair: Adeleen Brown, Indiana University-Bloomington,


French III: Cultural Issues - Session A

Topic: L'humour dans les littératures française et francophone des XXème et XXIème siècles.

Dans cette session, nous nous proposons d'étudier les différentes formes que l'humour peut recouvrir (humoir noir, cynisme, ironie…), sa place et ses fonctions dans le texte (sociologique, critique, ontologique…) jusqu'à éventuellement constituer une nouvelle herméneutique à la compréhension de la poétique d'une œuvre. Les études porteront sur des oeuvres des littératures française ou francophone des XXème et XXIème siècles. Les articles seront rédigés en français. Vous pouvez envoyer une proposition de communication en 250 mots environ avant le 30 avril 2011.

Chair: Stéphane Roussel, Université de Caen,


French III: Cultural Issues - Session B

Topic: La modernité d’une vieille convention : quel est l’état de l’expression française ?

Ce panel se propose de réunir des communications tâchant de déterminer l’état présent et l’avenir de la « littérature d’expression française ». Pendant des décennies, bibliothèques, manuels et ouvrages d’histoire littéraire proposaient une distinction conventionnelle entre « auteurs français » et « auteurs étrangers d’expression française ». Dernièrement, la seconde catégorie fut absorbée dans celle, plus large et plus influente, de « littérature francophone », quoique la Bibliothèque Nationale de France garde toujours la rubrique « Littératures d’expression française ». Mais y a-t-il des distinctions à faire entre la littérature en français des auteurs dont le français n’est pas la langue maternelle et la littérature dite francophone, qui revêt de nombreux aspects socio-politico-culturels et se pare de nuances idéologiques bien marquées ?

Qu’est-ce qui motive aujourd’hui les écrivains dont le français n’est pas la première langue d’écrire ou traduire en français ? Tout au long du vingtième siècle, des écrivains d’autres nationalités se sont exprimé en français : de Panaït Istrati et Tristan Tzara à Emile Cioran ou Mircea Eliade, (Roumains), d’Andreï Makine (Russe) à Milan Kundera (Tchèque), de Tahar Ben Jelloun (Marocain) à Alain Mabanckou (Congolais) et Amin Maloof (Libanais), de Samuel Beckett (Irlandais) à Nancy Houston (Canadienne) et à Jonathan Littell (Américain), de César Moro (Péruvien) à Hector Bianciotti (Argentin) et Eduardo Manet (Cubain). Il y en a qui sont bilingues, comme Eugène Ionesco ou Jonathan Littell, mais dont le français n’a été que la seconde langue de publication. Il y en a qui traduisent ou réécrivent leurs propres œuvres publiées dans leur (autre) langue maternelle, comme Samuel Beckett ou, très récemment, Félicia Mihali et Irina Egli (Roumaines-Québecoises). Les cas sont nombreux et divers, toujours est-il que le fil rouge est un certain type d’exile : politique, psychologique, culturel, émotionnel.

Et pourtant, en quoi les ouvrages des auteurs non-Français et non-francophones diffèrent-ils des écrits produits par les écrivains des anciennes colonies d’Afrique, des Caraïbes, d’Asie du sud-est, du Québec, etc. ? En quoi sont-ils similaires ? La nouvelle liberté conquise après la chute de diverses dictatures, comme après l’écroulement du monde colonial, a permis à ces auteurs de nouveaux et frais regards sur la langue et littérature en français, sur la thématique et le style. Avec quelles conséquences ?

Nous invitons des propositions de communication de 250-300 mots en anglais ou en français, traitant le sujet proposé ou tout sujet connexe. Nous encourageons des études sur la traduction et les œuvres bilingues. Les propositions seront adressées au Dr. Marius Conceatu, de l’University of Wisconsin Green Bay, au courriel

Chair: Dr. Marius Conceatu, de l’University of Wisconsin Green Bay, au courriel


Gender Studies: Male

Topic: Men at Work, Men at Play

This panel calls for papers that address contemporary representations of men in the workplace or male camaraderie in American literature and popular culture.  We’re particularly interested in essays that explore the ways writers unsettle dominant notions of masculinity—sexually, racially, domestically—in contemporary fiction, film, or television.  Feel free to interpret “the workplace” or the social spaces of camaraderie broadly.

Where do men “play” at being men?  How have our contemporary representations of the postwar “organization man” evolved?  To what extent have transformations in the workplace, rising unemployment, or the disappearing nuclear family offered new possibilities for defining manhood?  In what ways has the post-9/11 era of endless war destabilized or re-affirmed our portrayals of “real men”?  How have Civil Rights movements, feminism, gay liberation, and an emphasis on multiculturalism made room for “other” or “queer” masculinities in contemporary U.S. culture?

Please send 250 word abstracts by May 30 to Keith Wilhite,

Chair: Keith Wilhite, Siena College,


German Literature and Culture I

Topic: Limitations and (in)sanity: Spiele(n) im sozialen und theatralen Raum

Performing in everyday life or on stage often occurs in liminal spaces. Victor Turner defined the term “liminality” as referring to in-between situations and conditions, a state mostly described by transformation, motion and liquidity (Z. Bauman). For example, does the literary figure of Faust have intellectual and academic expertise or an impaired mental state that leads to a pact with the devil? How does the recent resignation of K.T. Guttenberg reflect changes in the increasing intersection of social and public spaces?

We invite abstracts of approx. 250 words by April 30th about theatrical, filmic, and other performances that highlight the liminal space between different social discourses in areas such as literature, psychology, politics, urban studies and other fields in their relation to German speaking cultures.

Chairs: Juliette Brungs, and Rebecca Raham,, University of Minnesota


German Literature and Culture II: German Language Poetry
This section has been canceled.


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History of Critical Reception

Topic: Open

Papers on any area of reception theory or reception study are welcome.

Chair: James Machor, Kansas State University,

Illustrated Texts

Topic: Illustrated Texts: The Play of Hybrids

In The Location of Culture, Homi Bhabha defines hybridity to mean “difference within a subject” that inhabits the “crossroads of history and literature” and spans “the home and the world.”  Such a sociopolitical context for individual and collective identity has become a mainstay of Post-Colonial studies.  More recently, though, the notion of hybridity as applied to fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has allowed for integrated, expanding codes.  The Neo-Victorian movement, for instance, where considerations of Victorian culture are renewed and reinvented, is one recognizable example of a playful type of hybridity.

The juxtaposition of text and image remains ubiquitous in human communication; undoubtedly, there is much play of meaning between the dynamic duo (to take a phrase from comic book culture).  Some illustrations merely serve as guideposts to written text while others require complex interpretation.  Images can act as an interface between past and present genres, genders, cultures, or times.

On the web, serial novels such as the Boom Brothers continue to reinvent the internet novel, while other Cyberbooks such as Dark Lethe, in which participants can create hyperlinks to continue one or more narrative threads, are now clearly part of the mix of hybrid texts.

This panel will explore the play and interplay between the two media, particularly innovations of text and image that promote a notion of hybridity, where any type of “integrated, expanding code” operates at the juncture of visual images and text.

Send abstracts of 200 words to Micki Nyman at by June 6, 2011.

Chair: Micki Nyman, Fayetteville State University,


International Francophone Studies

Topic: Transitioning Literature of the Maghreb

This topic seeks to address new trends in Maghrebi literature, covering the new generation of writers in the Maghreb and the authors of the diaspora who write in French.  Cultural hybridity, violence, fundamentalism and exile may be some of the issues discussed during the session.  Papers in French or English on this topic should be emailed by April 30th, 2011 to Professor Brigitte Hamon-Porter, Hope College,

Chair: Professor Brigitte Hamon-Porter, Hope College,

Irish Studies

Topic: Play and Its Discontents in Irish Literature and Culture

Valorizations of play have been no stranger to the appreciation of Irish literature and culture, from Wilde’s ludic paradoxes and Joyce’s sportive wordplay to Terry Eagleton and Declan Kiberd’s influential theoretical valuations of Ireland as a country ideologically constituted by writers’ and artists’ liberating free play with otherwise ossifying concepts of nationhood, gender, and language.  But play is a concept that can’t do without its opposite, namely, work.  What concept of work, therefore, generates the emphasis on play in Irish studies?  Conversely, is there a laboring tradition in Irish culture that deserves our  attention?  I’m generally interested in papers that question rather than reproduce the prominence of play and related concepts in Irish studies. Papers that address the issue in a more general way, however, will also be considered.  Please send proposals to by 30 May 2011.   

Chair: John Pistelli, University of Minnesota,



This section will not be held in 2011.


Literary Criticism

Topic: Open

Abstracts are invited for papers on any topic related to Literary Criticism.

Chair: Marissa Fugate, University of Missouri,

Luso-Brazilian Studies I

Topic: “Play” in Luso-Brazilian Cultural Production

For this session we welcome papers that deal with the concept of “play” in Luso-Brazilian cultural production (literature, visual culture, performance, music, etc.) from interdisciplinary analytical perspectives.  The interpretation of “play” is open, and may be connected to such themes as social roles, representation and meaning, identity, ideology, power, encounters and conflict, popular culture, etc.  Comparative and Transnational approaches (Latin America, Iberian Peninsula, Luso-phone Africa, etc.) are welcome. 

Papers may be presented in Portuguese, English, or Spanish.  Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words to Andrew Rajca, University of South Carolina: or Zak Montgomery, Wartburg College:

Chair: Andrew Rajca, University of South Carolina,

EXTENDED - Luso-Brazilian Studies II

Topic: Oral Traditions of the Portuguese Speaking Countries

This session seeks papers on any aspect of oral traditions of the Portuguese speaking countries. Papers may be presented in Portuguese, English, or Spanish.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 300 word abstracts to Isabel Ferreira at by July 1st.

Chair: Isabel Ferreira, Universidade Federal de Lavras,


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Media Studies

Topic: Objects, Networks and Apps: Transference and Transmission

This session will discuss the appearance of a subject of a network and the ways in which a given subject engages in relation to other subjects through the practices of mediation by means of new media objects -- the lures of the network. Addressing different aspects of mediation, this session seeks to explore both material and imaginary aspects by focusing on various ways of transferring and transmitting information or affects that participate in the production of subjectivity in cyberspace.

Transmission technologies – hardware constituting the material aspect of mediation and software that constitutes its immaterial aspect – both enable transmission as an act of sending a message or information by means of radio waves, electrical or light signals with limited duration. Transference, especially as it is understood in psychoanalysis, is an effect of imaginary connectivity and connectedness. As such transference is not real; but is relevant to appearance, however effective and formative, as far as the subject is concerned.

This session aims to engage with the discourses of media theory, posthumanities and psychoanalysis to explore the lures, or new media objects that entice us to participate, as well as the ways they playfully set the entire process of transference in motion.

We welcome papers exploring any aspect of mediation relevant to the formation of the subject of a network – mediation understood as relations established by transference and transmission.

Please send 250 word abstracts by May 12th to Svitlana Matviyenko, University of Missouri,

Chair: Svitlana Matviyenko, University of Missouri,

EXTENDED - The Mezzuzah and the Mestizaje: Jewish Latin America

Topic: Sephardic Identity, Literature and Culture

We invite proposals for papers on all topics related to Jewish Latin American cultural production.

For 2011 we welcome proposals related to Sephardic identity, literature and culture. We are also happy to receive proposals on other topics. 

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to by July 1st.

Chair: Joanna L. Mitchell, Denison University,

Modern Literature

Topic: Playing in and with Modern Literature

This panel calls for papers related to the conference's theme of play, but, to be playful, there's a lot of "play" in how play might play out. Papers can focus on depictions of play or playfulness in literary works, or look at how authors play with words, genres, characterization, or with the concept of literature itself. Papers might consider reading as play, reading for fun, and may explore works by popular authors who are neglected because they are considered too much fun to read, not serious enough for study. Does the idea that a book might be fun disqualify it for serious study? Can a fun book be serious, can a serious book be fun? Is reading for us professionals fun? How can we make reading fun for students? Should we? These are just a few ideas; feel free to play around with them!

Chair: Sean A. Labbe, Loyola University Chicago,

Multicultural Literature in the Classroom: Politics and Pedagogy

Topic: Pedagogical Approaches to Ethnic American Short Stories

For the past one hundred years, short fiction and short story writers such as Charles Chesnutt, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Paula Gunn Allen, Sandra Cisneros, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Amy Tan, and Linda Hogan have created a body of short stories that explore the vast complexities of Ethnic American cultures and histories. These stories amount to more than a series of random word play and serious utterances. The short story’s artful play on language and escapist possibilities have allowed these writers to open the cultural and historical doors to readers. This panel seeks to address pedagogical approaches to teaching the works of Ethnic American short story writers in the classroom. Papers may focus on any particular short stories by Ethnic American writers, and/or pedagogical models that illuminate the intersections of Ethnic literature and the short story as genre. The panel is particularly interested in considering Ethnic American short stories as they construct, reconstruct, and often deconstruct the multicultural American experience(s), voice(s), and image(s). If we take into account the words of James Baldwin and believe that “All art is a kind of confession” and that “All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up,” then What insight does the short story offer to its readers and students? What do Ethnic American short stories teach us? What are Ethnic American short story writers “forced” to tell? What are we as scholars “forced” to “confess” and teach?  Or more importantly, how do we teach the Ethnic American short story? Send 200-300 word abstracts to by May 30th.

Chair: Andre Stefan Johnson, Florida State University,

EXTENDED - Native American Literature

Topic: Laugh . . . . Yes, Seriously

As Custer said, looking at his last sunset, “I don’t know what’s bothering those Indians.  They seemed to be having a really good time at the dance last night."

In the face of the stoic Indian stereotype, Native American life and literature presents a remarkable array of types of humor.   Jokes, tall tales, trickster behavior, ironic reference to the Indian condition –direct, subtle, sly, dark, ironic, unaware, pan-tribal,-- the laugh is on you or at you, or for you or by you.  Is the humor an inside joke, a means of bonding, a shared chuckle, a knee-slapper, a way to achieve in Gerald Vizenor’s concept of  “survivance”?  How does Native American literature reflect, inject, dissect, or respect humor?

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to by July 1st.

Chair: Janet M. LaBrie, University of Wisconsin-Waukesha,

Old and Middle English Language and Literature

This section will not be held in 2011.

Peace Literature and Pedagogy

This section will not be held in 2011.

Popular Culture

Topic: Playing (At): Identity and Performance in Popular Culture

Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, among other theorists, have argued that identities (or subject-positions) are constructed, developed within discourses or created through repeated performance(s).  The genres and media of popular culture may be read as likewise interrogating the post-Enlightenment  concept of a unified self through characters which have virtual or multiple identities.  Topics of interest include but are not limited to: the use of avatars in virtual reality;  the secret identities of super-heroes; werewolves and other shapeshifters; masquerade; drag and other cross-gender performances in popular culture; performances-within-performances (as in the film made during Showtime's The L-Word, with actors playing as actors, or the performance of masculine gender in La Cage aux Folles ); impersonations.  Such performances serve as commentary on the extent to which identities are (de)stabilized through performance.

Susan J. Wolfe, University of South Dakota,


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Religion and Literature

Topic: Play

The 2011 informal convention theme is "Play...No, Seriously." The Religion and Literature section will be accepting papers on the topic of play, including sports, games, play on words, humor, and comedy. Literature and theories of literature that address this topic should intersect the disciplines of religion, (popular) religiosity, spirituality, theology, philosophy, theory of religion(s), religious images, or non-sacred/sacred texts. This is an open section. Submissions can be in the form of an abstract (500 word limit) or 8-12 single-spaced pages in length, not including bibliography. All papers must be in MLA format. Priority will be given to full-length papers in the event of a high volume of submissions. Submissions should be emailed as PDF documents by Friday April 30, 2011 to the section chairperson, Daniel Dillard, at Accepted authors will receive notification no later than June 5, 2011.

Chair: Daniel C. Dillard, Florida State University,

EXTENDED - Science and Fiction

Topic: Playing in Anti-gravity

The traditional space opera makes much of the possibilities of the lack of gravity during space travel. How can gravity be generated artificially? What are the pleasures of free fall? In our section this year we want to examine the opposite of gravity - taken in its broadest sense. What is the relationship between the lack of gravity and the lack of seriousness?

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to by July 1st.

Chair: A.K. Drees, Defiance College,


EXTENDED - Shakespeare and Shakespearean Criticism I

Topic: Shakespeare at Play

This session will examine play in Shakespeare. This may take the form of expounding upon play as diversion, well-meaning or malevolent trickery or upon the broader aspects of Shakespeare's play with language and audience expectation. This session also encourages papers on Shakespeare that explore the relationship of toys as material objects to theories of play.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Scott Brinton Gunther, Rice University, by July 1st.

Chair: Scott Brinton Gunther, Rice University,

EXTENDED - Shakespeare and Shakespearean Criticism II

Topic: Open

Papers are welcomed on any topic related to Shakespeare or Shakespearean Criticism, especially on topics related to comedy and the comic. 

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Donald Hedrick, by July 1st.

Chair: Donald Hedrick, Kansas State University,


Short Story

Topic: Open

Looking for critical articles or essays on the short story.  Submissions may focus on one story or multiple stories, on critical readings of a story or stories, or consider, more expansively, the nature of the short story as a literary form/genre.  Please send 250 word abstracts by May 12 to Gordon Reynolds, 

Chair: Gordon Reynolds, Ferris State University, 

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Spanish Cultural Studies

Topic: Open

Abstracts are invited for papers on any topic related to Spanish Cultural Studies.

Chair: Juliana Luna Freire, The University of Arizona,


Spanish I: Peninsular Literature Before 1700

Topic: Open

Abstracts are invited for papers on any topic related to Spanish literature and culture before 1700. Please send 250-word abstracts by April 30, 2011, to Julia Dominguez Castellano, Iowa State University,

Chair: Julia Dominguez Castellano, Iowa State University,

Spanish IV: Literary Theory and Hispanic Criticism

This section will not be held in 2011.


Teaching Writing in College

Topic: Teaching Writing In Diverse Environments

This session explores how the different environments one teaches in informs how one teaches and the ways one constructs a teacher identity. We welcome proposals that address teaching at the community college, small liberal arts schools, research universities, urban schools, etc.

Chair: Aimee Krall-Lanoue, Calumet College of St. Joseph,

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Travel Writing/Writing Travel

Topic: The Serious Pleasures of Travel

In the nineteenth century, travel became a serious business: with the explosion of travel guide books (Murray’s and Baedeker’s, most notably), Cook’s excursion tours, organized itineraries through the P&O and other ocean liner companies, and other commercial efforts, the world began to open up for tourism is ways previously unknown. Where travel had in earlier centuries often been focused on the pleasure of “finishing” one’s education through a Grand Tour, it now became accessible to many more people – at once a more playfully democratic pleasure and an enormously serious money-making venture for everyone from travel companies to local vendors at what we now think of a tourist traps. At the same time, however, pleasure-based travel—particularly in the sense of holiday-making—exploded onto the scene, allowing even working-class people the opportunity to seek out moments of playful respite from their daily lives.

This panel seeks to explore the intersections and/or contradictions between the seriousness of travel and its more playful aspects. Expensive and often predicated on colonial mindsets, presumed hierarchies, and privilege, traveling to foreign countries is also often about the playfulness of a short-term escape from one’s everyday life.

To what extent are the serious and playful perspectives at odds with one another? How does one both take other cultures seriously, respectfully, and still achieve a playful holiday? Have the parameters of what travelers take seriously changed over time? Apart from the obvious differences in technology, how was travel in the nineteenth century different from travel today—and what do those differences tell us about how seriously people take their own efforts at pleasure? To what degree to different sorts of travelers engage critically with the playful aspects of travel, or insist on the play within its more serious encounters?

This panel welcomes papers that explore how travelers balance the things they take seriously with their efforts at respite. Topics ranging from the business of travel to travelers' motives to analysis of narratives of individual experience are welcome, as are papers that consider travel at various points throughout history.

Please send title and 250 word abstracts to Andrea Kaston Tange ( by June 3, 2011.

Chair: Andrea Kaston Tange, Eastern Michigan University,


Women in Literature I

Topic: Sailing Stones: Women Initiating Change in Literature

Playing with words, form, content, and expectations, contemporary female authors move literature into the 21st century by (de/re)forming genre lines. For example, Debra Di Blasi (Jaded Ibis Press) sees the future of fiction as a “mashup,” blending hypertext, artwork, soundtracks, and “advertisements” as commentary on pop culture.

Who are our past and present female pioneers in literature? How have these women created new ways to perceive/experience literature? How does the way female authors/musicians/essayists/artists play with boundaries between genre and/or expectations allow for a richer future of literature? What sort of work (or play) can readers expect from the women of the present and/or future?

Proposals of up to 400 words are due by midnight on Friday, June 3rd. Please include MMLA Women in Literature in the subject line and submit to

Chair: Jane L. Carman, Illinois State University,


Women in Literature II



Women's Studies

Topic: Women Writers:  Power Play

This year’s session will explore various aspects of power, privilege, and play in the careers and work of women writers.  We will explore such questions as: How and to what extent are women writers supported financially, institutionally, and emotionally?  How, and by whom, are their texts recognized and rewarded?  Are their careers and work considered to be serious work or as less privileged "play"?  How might their experiences with "play" contribute to their formation as writers?  On the “playing field” of life, which women writers enjoy the most respect and cache?  How might class, diability, skin color, and sexual orientation affect the ways the creative texts of women are received?   How might the creation and reception of texts, between women, be an act of “play”?

Please send a 250-word (maximum) abstract by May 30, 2011 to Marjorie Allison, Western Illinois University,

Chair: Marjorie Allison, Western Illinois University,


EXTENDED - Writing Across the Curriculum

Topic: New Paradigms for WID in Colleges and Universities and in Teaching Writing

What are new paradigms in WID—writing in the disciplines—and in related preparatory first-year composition (FYC)?  Undergraduate disciplines increasingly emphasize research and related disciplinary or professional writing—e.g., case studies, proposals, and legal or medical analyses—and expect us to train FYC students accordingly.  K-12 schools now teach introductory writing using such methods as writing in steps, self-expression, and critiquing of writing in groups.  Should we replace these methods in FYC or WID programs with more focus on research?  Who should run campus WID programs?  Does more disciplinary or professional writing—or iPads, texting, blogs, and group online writing—require new WID approaches?  How can we maintain WID on campuses where budget cuts lead to larger classes?  Session is open to a variety of conversations.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Richard Jewell, by July 1st.

Chair: Richard Jewell, Inver Hills Community College,

EXTENDED - Young Adult Literature

Topic: Serious Business: Play and Playfulness in Young Adult Literature

While play is commonly depicted in children's literature, the nature and significance of play and playfulness evolve as children mature, resulting in a myriad of depictions and activities in young adult literature that expand the definition of "play." What does play mean for maturing protagonists, and what are contemporary and traditional YA authors attempting to convey by depicting play in these stories and for these audiences? Is playfulness in manner related to character development; is playfulness in style an important component of how a YA author makes a story work?

This panel seeks to explore how the concepts of play and playfulness can shape young adult literature, and welcomes theory-grounded and interdisciplinary approaches.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Jennifer Goodhue, by July 1st.

Chair: Jennifer L. Goodhue,

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Associated Organizations

The Henry James Society

Topic: Playing in and with Henry James

Proposals for 15-20 minute presentations are invited on the topic, broadly construed, "Playing in and with Henry James."  Approaches might involve James's representation of or attitude toward play in his writing, but presenters might also consider playing with James's writing.

Chair: Leland S. Person, University of Cincinnati,

The International Harold Pinter Society

Topic: Pinter@Play and The Comic Pinter

The Harold Pinter Society welcomes 250 word proposals for 20 minute paper presentations on either Pinter@Play or the Comic Pinter.  Please address all submissions or enquiries to Lance Norman at  Deadline for all submissions is April 30, 2011.

Pinter@Play - Papers discussing any aspect of Pinter in performance, Pinter performing, Pinter’s playfulness, and Playing Pinter in the twenty-first century will be welcome.

The Comic Pinter-  What does it mean to emphasize the comedic in Pinter, and how might an appropriate emphasis on comedy change / enrich our understanding of Pinter’s dramaturgy?  Is there a theory of comedy underlying Pinter’s work / how does Pinter relate to our understanding of the comic?

Chair: Lance Norma, Michigan State University,

The International Raymond Carver Society

Topic: Serious Play in the Works of Raymond Carver

Panelists are invited to submit abstracts (250 words) for papers on any aspect of "serious play" in the works of Raymond Carver, or comparative talks on Carver and other writers. The topic is open to interpretation and may include, but is not limited to, playing with genres, lives, minds, and genders, in addition to playing with the truth (i.e. fact versus fiction). For deadlines and more information, please consult the IRCS in the Spring of 2011:

Chair: Sandra Kleppe, IRCS Director, Hedmark University College,

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Midwest Womens' Caucus for the Modern Languages I

Topic: Feminists Have No Sense of Humor . . . No, Seriously

Humor is a powerful political tool; this session intends to examine how humor has been used to further feminist goals: empowering women, dismantling gender norms, challenging patriarchy, etc. The Women’s Caucus of the M/MLA invites proposals for papers on any aspect of feminist humor in literature, new media, film/TV, performance, daily life, etc. All analytical/theoretical approaches are welcome, as are comparative examinations of feminist humor across cultural, historical, or language contexts. Please send a title and 250-word abstract to Jeannie Ludlow at no later than April 30, 2011.

Chair: Jeannie Ludlow, Eastern Illinois University,


Midwest Womens' Caucus for the Modern Languages II

Topic: Using Humor in the Feminist Classroom

“God forbid we should have a sense of humor about these things…” Lesbian feminist novelist Rita Mae Brown’s words define a challenge for us today in the feminist classroom. Studies show that classroom humor increases student learning, helps creating classroom cohesion, enlivens “dreaded course material,” and is a way of countering resistance. How do we use humor in the feminist classroom for these or other purposes? What sorts of humor are (in)appropriate? In what ways does humor help us de-center power? Or not? In what ways do you use hyperbole, exaggeration, jokes, satire, informality, or other forms of humor as a pedagogical tool? This roundtable seeks real-life examples, activities, and quandaries rather than formal presentation papers. Presentations should be approximately 10-15 minutes in length, with time in the facilitated roundtable session devoted to discussion among all attendees. Send title of presentation along with brief description of approximately 300 words to Milton Wendland at no later than April 30, 2011.

Chair: Milton W. Wendland, University of Kansas,

Midwest Womens' Caucus for the Modern Languages III

Topic: Women in Popular Music - Taking It Light

For all the heavy messages women’s popular music has delivered, there has also been much fun along the way. This session will explore the artists who have given us the comic songs, satires, insult songs, telephone songs, game and dance songs, and novelty songs and all other musical fun engaged in by the women of popular music. Send proposals to Patricia S. Rudden, Professor of English , New York City College of Technology, Brooklyn NY 11201 by April 30, 2011.

Chair: Patricia S. Rudden, New York City College of Technology - CUNY


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Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature II

Topic: Comparative Literary Humor: Does Midwestern Literary Humor Have a Unique Flavor?

The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature invites new and old members to submit essays for this panel.  To become a member please see our website or contact Marilyn J. Atlas <>.  Please send a one page abstract of your proposed talk, a telephone number where I might reach you, and a short vita to me by April 30, 2011

Chair: Marilyn Judith Atlas, Ohio University,


Women in French

Topic: Je est/et JEU: le sujet en question dans les textes de femmes en français

Je est/et JEU: le sujet en question et la mise en jeu du sujet dans les textes de femmes en français

I and/is play: the topic and/or subject at stake in Women’s texts in French.

The different plays on the French words  je and jeu, implying playing, questioning and taking risks, will allow participants in this session to play on the questions of topics and identity/identities in Women’s World literature in French.

Papers in French or in English addressing these and related ideas may be emailed by April 30th, 2011  to Professor Hélène Diaz-Brown, Principia College, 

Chair: Hélène Diaz-Brown, Principia College,


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Special Sessions


Additional Special Sessions will be posted in May 2011 after the selection and approval process has been completed.


Afro-Caribbean Identity: Space, Culture and Literature

This session on Afro-Caribbean Cultural Identity has been organized since 2007. In 2009, Cambridge Scholars-publishing published our 2007 session in Cleveland under the title This Shipwreck of Fragments: Historical Memory, Imaginary Identities, and Postcolonial Geography in Caribbean Culture and Literature. In this session, we welcome papers in English that explore Afro-Caribbean culture history, literature, and geographical space.  We also invite papers dealing with literary trends or movements such as:  Negritude, Negrismo, Antillanité, Créolité, etc…

Please send abstracts to Mamadou Badiane, by June 6th.    

Chair: Mamadou Badiane, University of Missouri-Columbia,

NEW - Anarchism and Culture

It has been said that anarchists, even more than radicals in other political traditions, gave a central place to culture in their strategies of resistance and revolt. However, much of the history of anarchist cultural creativity remains poorly studied -- obscured not only by political prejudices but by disciplinary and methodological blindnesses. This panel invites exploration of anarchist culture (e.g., literature, film, and drama, but also sexuality and body culture, festival and song, etc.), especially dimensions of it resistant to customary analytical models and modes of research. Transnational approaches would be particularly welcome.

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 11th.    

Chair: Jesse Cohn, Purdue University North Central

At his Leisure? Boredom in German Cultural Production

This panel explores the intersections of boredom, leisure, and entertainment in the German cultural context. We are interested in how specific texts deal with this phenomenon and seek to address some of the following questions:  What forms of entertainment are privileged by society over others and why? How does boredom develop into obsessions and compulsions? What role does curiosity and the search for knowledge play on the development of bored characters? Furthermore, how do these manifestations play into or transgress the power structures of the society in which they are created? We invite papers that examine issues of race, class, and gender in the context of boredom studies in literary, visual, and theoretical texts. 

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 500 words to by June 3rd.    

Chair: Mary Le Gierse and Ben Davis, Washington University in St. Louis


NEW - At Play in Venice: Renaissance Venice in the Anglo-American Imagination

Like the rest of Italy, Venice was at the vanguard of the Renaissance, developing a bustling trade and sophisticated culture that would spread to the rest of Europe.  By the time the Renaissance flowered in England, Venice was already declining (though still powerful).  English authors used Venice as the symbolic locus of all that was at the troubled borders between civilization and savagery.  Travelers visited the city, seeking its cosmopolitan decadence and fantasizing about its dark intrigue and thrilling criminal underground; it later became a necessary stop on the grand tour upon which wealthy young men embarked.  In popular culture, Venice is still used as a setting to invoke eerie beauty and seductive darkness, mixing dark and light to create sensual delight and abject fear.

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 11th.    

Chair: Richard Sears, Indiana University, Bloomington

EXTENDED - Baltasar Garzón: International Justice on Trial

This panel explores the figure of Judge Baltasar Garzón as a metaphor for post-dictatorial justice in Spain and Latin America. Seen alternately as an advocate for human rights or as a celebrity “activist judge,” many argue Garzón has displaced the cause of the very victims he purports to defend. From his orchestration of the Pinochet arrest to his failed attempt to investigate Francoist-era crimes, Garzón remains at the center of an ideological battle over the narrative reconstruction of the dictatorial past. This panel examines Garzón’s portrayal by self or others in journalism, film or new media, especially with regard to the construction of a transnational memory culture and the practice of citizenship in democratic societies. Papers welcome in English or Spanish.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Kathy Korcheck, by July 1st.

Chair: Kathy Korcheck, Central College,

NEW - But Seriously, Times Are Tough: Comedy in Recession and Depression

In keeping with the informal theme of the 2011 conference of “Play..No Seriously”, this session invites papers on the roles of comedy in times of economic distress and financial crisis. While comedy has often been considered as “escapist” art in times of economic calamity, this panel will explore how comic works in literature, film, television, and music function in more serious terms than providing relief from the rigors of economic hardship. Possible avenues of exploration include how comedy can critique or subvert culture or government in a recession or how comedy can reinforce reactionary perspectives during a time of depression. Papers from all time periods and contexts are welcome. Of particular interests are papers addressing the “Great Recession” and / or non-American topics.

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to Paul Gagliardi, by July 11th.    

Chair: Paul Gagliardi, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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NEW - Cultural Expressions of Violence and Resistance in Contemporary El Salvador

This panel will provide a forum to explore narratives of violence and resistance during the Salvadoran civil war and post-civil war eras, by discussing the emergence of Central American gang culture, and by situating the origins of these gangs within their particular historical context. Specifically, it will focus on representations of Salvadoran youth that originate from the outside (documentaries, movies, television dramas, news reports, printed media), and it will discuss how these relate to and often conflict with the expressive culture produced directly from the inside (resistance narratives, testimony, tattoos, graffiti, hand-signs, rap, photographs). By doing so, the panelists will explore how in-group cultural production can provide counter-hegemonic perspectives that humanize Salvadoran youth by presenting histories of violence, familial displacement, post-migration experiences, and gang loyalty.

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 11th.    

Chair: Alex Jacky, Ohio State University

Dark Humor at Play

In keeping with the conference theme of "play, no seriously" this panel seeks papers on dark comedy at play in all types of cultural productions.  This panel is not limited to any one genre or medium and can include analysis of literature, film, television, drama and/or artifacts.  All papers should be grounded in theory, however, and preference will be given to papers that incorporate dark humor theory, in particular.  Some defining theories of dark humor include the assertion by Matthew Wilson and Terry Heller that dark comedy is a combination of humor and horror.  Another theorist who works with dark comedy is Lisa Colletta who argues that “[d]ark humor is …generally defined by ambivalence, confused chronology, plots that seem to go nowhere, and a conflicting or even unreliable, narrative stance.  It presents violent or traumatic events and questions the values and perceptions of its readers as it represents, simultaneously, the horrifying and the humorous”.  Any theory of dark humor or humor studies (including linguistic, cultural, psychological, and textual approaches) will be considered.

Some possible topics include:

  • Dark humor as it relates to Gender, Race, etc.
  • Theoretical analysis of a darkly humorous work/author (i.e. Donnie Darko, or the works of Kurt Vonnegut)
  • The cultural significance of dark humor
  • The transformative power of dark humor

Topic should somehow relate to the theme of "play."

Please submit 250-word abstracts as email attachments to by June 3, 2011.

Chair: Rachel S. Hawley,

NEW - Diversions, Digressions, and Unusual Connections: New Media and Narrative Practice

This panel considers the digital humanities especially with regard to how new media technologies and ideologies associated with the " information age" influence creative and critical practices.   We might ask:  what are the links or divergences between traditional forms of narrative and  those which make use of virtual space, hypertext, and visual  or auditory manipulation?  Or along with Lev Manovich in The Language of New Media, submissions might question, "What is unique about how new media objects create the illusion of reality, address the viewer, and represent space and time?"  How can literary and cultural criticism engage with new media in innovative ways?  Papers that address these questions or that otherwise explore the links between  narrative form (traditional, experimental, global or local, print or cinematic) and the structures underpinning new media are welcome.  Multimedia presentations are, of course, encouraged.

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to Kristine Kelly at by July 11th.    

Chair: Kristine Kelly, Case Western Reserve University


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NEW - Eroding Personal Boundaries in College Classrooms: A Chance for Improve Engagement or a Recipe for Disaster?

A considerable amount of research has been done on student engagement in the college classroom and how student perceptions of faculty members can impact their behavior and motivation both within and outside of the classroom.  Less has been explored, however, about what students have come to expect personally from professors, particularly female faculty.  As the number of students exhibiting emotional and behavioral problems in classes increases, so do expectations that professors will act as counselors and overlook absences, missed work, or deadlines.  We believe that these expectations are applied more frequently to female professors, who are often believed to have a heightened sense of empathy that will dictate or elide academic expectations and professional boundaries.  How female professors accept or resist this role merits further discussion and exploration, and this panel will allow us to start this conversation.

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 11th.    

Chair: Dr. Brenda Boudreau, McKendree University

NEW - The Ethics of Pleasure in Early Modern Literature and Philosophy

This interdisciplinary panel seeks to bring together scholars interested in examining the value and uses of pleasure in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature and philosophy, especially in texts in which the two disciplines intersect. The panel welcomes submissions from the European tradition widely construed and beyond.  Submissions might include, but are not limited to, topics on any of the following:

Philosophical play, speculation, and skepticism

  • The pleasure of discovery and invention
  • Playful uses of philosophical modes and genres, e.g. paradox, dialogue, dialectic, etc.
  • Theories of/about pleasure
  • The relationship between virtue and pleasure
  • Pleasure and the senses, the imagination, or reason
  • Playful appropriation of classical philosophies

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to Melissa Caldwell at by July 11th.    

Chair: Melissa Caldwell, Eastern Illinois University

Expressions, Emotions, Embodiment: Dramatics and the German Stage

Dramaturgy has a long tradition in German cultural production spanning from the passion plays of the Middle Ages, through the drama of the German Classicists to Brecht and beyond. This panel embraces the conference theme by focusing on the social and cultural discourses of drama on the German stage. We seek to explore the ways in which emotions, sentimentalities, as well as physicalities illuminate the importance of the theorization of these concepts. The panel organizers invite papers on theories of performance, reception history/-ies and/or interpretations of individual texts that elucidate inquiries into dramatics in a broader context.

Please submit a 250-word abstract to Angineh Djavadghazaryans,; & Ervin Malakaj, by June 3, 2011.

Chairs: Angineh Djavadghazaryans,; & Ervin Malakaj,, Washington University in St. Louis

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NEW - Fair Play: Reading Sports ConTexts

Fair Play: Reading Sports ConTexts explores the rich semiotic play of sports texts. Temporally, geographically, and disciplinarily flexible, this session is geared toward those interested in the humanistic interpretation of sports texts, attracting work that may have difficulty finding a home on more conventionally-configured panels. Welcoming papers on a broad range of topics, from athletes to fans, from sports fiction to autobiography and nonfiction, from films and televisual texts to interpretations of sporting events themselves as texts, this session is aimed at a broad spectrum of presenters and audiences.

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 11th.    

Chair: Noah Cohan, Washington University in St. Louis


NEW - Festivity and its Malcontents

This session invites papers that explore the multitude of functions, forms, enactments, and critiques of festivity and the festive spirit in 20th - and 21st-century world literature, the arts, mass media and new media. Topics of particular interest include festivity in relation to hospitality, cosmopolitanism, and community; the appropriation of festive holidays, observances and practices of the ancient and medieval worlds by contemporary writers; festive forms and modes, including the carnival, procession, life cycle ritual, banquet, spectacle, tribute, impersonation, ethnography, satire, commemoration, tourist attraction, and epic song; festivity and cultural identity; festivity and performative or narrative innovation in modernist, post-modern and digital aesthetics; incarnations and transgressions of individual, political and social bodies and orders; the ethics of festivity in the shadows of disaster; and the consumption of festivity in relation to taste, pleasure, escape, addiction, excess, delusion, intoxication, and illness. 

Send abstracts of no more than 300 words to Drago Momcilovic at by July 11th.   

Chair: Drago Momcilovic, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Gender in 21st Century Spanish Short Stories

This panel wishes to discuss the diverse ways in which gender is now presented through short stories. Abstracts related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer themes are welcomed as well as issues of gender such as representations of heterosexuality, masculinity and feminism.

Specific topics may include but are not limited to:

  • How is sexuality represented in short stories?
  • What is positive and negative about these representations of gender?
  • How is femininity or masculinity constructed?
  • What role does age play in the construction of either male or female sexuality?

Please submit a 250-word abstract to Garbine Vidal-Torreira,; & Heather Jeronimo, by June 3, 2011.

Chairs: Garbine Vidal-Torreira,, and Heather Jeronimo,, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Gender Play: Movement Between and Among Genders

How has gender been played with in contemporary societies and to what effect? Are there significant differences in how gender is played with or how this gender play is viewed in different cultural contexts? We invite all interpretations of gender play in literature and popular culture in recent decades, including cross-dressing, drag, gender in sports, butch/femme identities, etc. All linguistic and cultural traditions are welcome. In order to foster dialogue, panelists should plan to present in English.

Please submit a 250-word abstract to Alana Reid, by June 3, 2011.

Chair: Alana Reid, University of Central Arkansas,


NEW - German Intellectual Thought / American Urban Space

This panel will address the portrayals of American cities in German literature and thought in the 19th century and beyond.  We will also accept papers that focus on how German literature and intellectual thought has been put to use in American cultural production and in real American citiscapes.  Our conference location of St Louis offers much inspiration, but submissions are open to papers that explore any city or address urban space as a concept. 

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to Magdalen Stanley Majors at by July 11th

Chair: Magdalen Stanley Majors, Washington University in St Louis


German Women Writers

In its fifth year at the annual M/MLA convention, and expanded into dual panels in 2008 and 2010, the session German Women Writers provides a forum for the sharing of research, analysis, interpretation and discussion of the works of major as well as lesser-known authors. We request papers which deal with the literary texts and lives of German-speaking women writers from any period and in any genre. Please submit 250-word abstracts as email attachments to both Dr. Amy Kepple Strawser ( and Dr. Daniela M. Richter ( by May 12, 2011.

Chair: Dr. Amy Kepple Strawser, Otterbein University, and Dr. Daniela M. Richter, Central Michigan University,

NEW - Gertrude Stein's Intermissions

This session plays with the concept of intermission—including the synonyms interval, break, and pause—that seemingly designates a shift, break, suspension, or absence of action, space, and time.  Moreover, this session will explore Gertrude Stein’s drama and prose written in the period of 1939-1945. Any play with the concept of intermission is welcome (including but not limited to narrative theory, music theory, political theory, performance, spectatorship, etc.); however, papers must engage Gertrude Stein’s writing during WWII.

Please send 250 word abstracts by July 11th to Johanna Frank at

Chair: Johanna Frank, University of Windsor

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NEW - The Humorous, Playful Denunciation of Social Oppression in Central American Literature

Central American literature has been characterized by its political subversion, denunciation, and defiant nature. Modern scholars have associated this literary production with words such as “Revolution”, “Politics”, “Resistance” and “denunciation”. While these terms capture much of the essence of Central American literature, especially in the twentieth-century, the intrinsic interplay of humorous scenes and/or characters with the depiction of an oppressive, decayed reality is often underscored.

The present panel invites scholars to reflect on specific Central American authors who resort or “play” with humor, sarcasm, irony, satire, and words as a literary device of social or political denunciation. Papers should generally be framed within the following questions. How do these devices appear in the text? What is their aesthetic value? What psychological and emotional effect do they elicit? How effective are they in the author’s overall objective for the text?

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 11th.    

Chair: Nestor I. Quiroa,

EXTENDED - Into the Digital: Video Games and English Studies

This session will be devoted to establishing the legitimacy and urgency to consider video games as texts for analysis within literary studies.  Video games have inundated our culture over the past thirty years, and have now evolved to a level of maturity and legitimacy that calls for serious consideration in academia.  They can be an accurate representation of society and humanity, just as any of the canonical literature we have studied for centuries.  Games today have philosophical and societal implications that have gone unexamined for too long.  This session seeks to explore the analysis of video games utilizing a variety of critical approaches.  This could effectively include literary criticism, cultural studies or any other academic analysis of video games and their role as vital and necessary texts.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Lindsey Render, by July 1st.

Chair: Lindsey Render, The University of Akron,

Juegos y Vanguardias: Literatura Latinoamericana

Estridentistas, surrealistas, ultraístas o creacionistas, un gran número de escritores latinoamericanos han empleado el juego como parte intrínseca de ciertas figuras retóricas, han jugado con el lector, con los personajes, con las partes del texto, con las reglas de gramática, o han aludido al juego directamente en el contenido de sus textos. Este panel busca reflexionar tanto sobre aspectos puramente alusivos o referenciales a lo lúdico, como a aspectos epistemológicos sobre´el juego mismo´, visto desde varias perspectivas: filosófica, psicológica, matemática, u otra, en relación al texto literario. Los juegos alquímicos de Carrington, las bromas estridentistas de Maples Arce, el juego irónico de Volpi, lo lúdico en Cortázar, el esplendor místico y juguetón en Borges...ofrecen múltiples facetas qué examinar en este siempre nuevo caleidoscopio.

Enviar abstract, ~ 250 palabras, a hasta el 17 de junio.

Chair: Olivia Maciel Edelman, Loyola University Chicago,


EXTENDED - A Literary Shelter for Misfit Dolls; Exploring Doll Play

Dolls have existed since the Stone Age and appear often in literature, but the signifcance of doll play has not been addressed.  “Literary Dolls” are often bedraggled objects that resemble inhabitants of  Rudolph’s Island of Misfit Toys. Yet, children love them because, like them, their dolls are imperfect.  Laura’s doll in Little House in the Big Woods, a handkerchief wrapped corncob, is both an object of pity and  a beloved toy. Dicken’s Jenny Wren repairs dolls to find the perfect form her own crippled body denies her.  Papers could address how dolls provide companionship, why children prefer simple dolls or “misfit” dolls, how imaginative children create dolls out of anything, how dolls become ritual objects, etc..

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Ellen M. Tsagaris, by July 11th.

Chair: Ellen M. Tsagaris,


NEW - Middle Eastern Iterations of Vulnerability

This session tracks the possibilities for a new conceptualization of “vulnerability” as reflected in various Middle Eastern literatures (canonical, esoteric, revolutionary, diasporic, avant-garde), one that eludes past epistemologies by opening onto unforeseen territories of experience. Here, individuated, subjective sensation and its formulation are transformed into the universalized, the cosmic, the infinite and boundless: poeticized iterations of humankind's continual indefensibility.  In exploring the theoretical territories of vulnerability, this session will consider thematic and conceptual currents such as sensation, cruelty, pain, pleasure, playfulness, the absurd, desire, power, laughter, loss, horror, intimacy, movement, and space.  The overarching intent of this session, then, is to collect and decipher these rare examples of traversal, trespass, and proximity for which the limits of sensation and subjectivity find themselves overturned.

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 11th.    

Chair: Alina Gharabegian, New Jersey City University

NEW - Modernism at Play

In La condition postmoderne, Jean-François Lyotard writes that  “tout énoncé doit être considéré comme un coup fait dans un jeu”.  (1979, 23) Language as a throw of dice or a play should respect the rules of the game, for otherwise the game is not worthy of its name.  All connections, social, poetic, literary, or philosophical come from these coups or throws of langage according to the rules. (24) In his Au juste (whose English title is Just Gaming), Lyotard observes this  pattern of game in all disciplines of science as literature generalized or littérature générale.  Literature seems to take this play variously. 

For Stéphane Mallarmé at the end of the nineteenth century, je is a play (jeu) as he plays with these two homonyms in his unfinished manuscript of Igitur.  For Surrealists, poems are the reflection of the unconscious made possible by automatic writing.  For Oulipo, poems are comparable to the oriental board game go.  For Quebec authors, linguistic plays are the way to question their identity.  In his Nobel Prize speech published as Discours de Stockholm, Claude Simon writes that the beauty of literary language is to reflect its own "natures merveilleuses," and it is in this marvelous nature of language that "le jeu étrange des rapports entre les choses" is transferred according to the discovery of personal associations fragmented as detached tableaux.

Recognizing that the Humanities are literature generalized, or a form of play, this panel will examine how authors set the rules of the game in order to make their own literary identity from the nineteenth century to today.    


Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 11th.    

Chair: Aiko Okamoto-MacPhail, Indiana University

EXTENDED - Performing Animals in Literature and Film

Writing on animals in the human imagination in Picturing the Beast, Steve Baker refers to “[t]he dominant cultural view that the subject of animals is essentially trivial, or is associated principally with memories of childhood...” While nonhuman animals have historically been dismissed as a subject of serious investigation, the myriad roles they are made to “play” in poetry, fiction and film offer rich insights into our complex relationships with other species. This session welcomes papers on literary and filmic representations of animals “performing.” Examples include, but are not limited to, animals at “play” in children’s stories; human characters “playing” at being animals; animals forced to “perform” for human entertainment (in circuses, rodeos, zoos and other venues); and “playful” animal imagery in poetry for children and adults.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Stacy Hoult-Saros, by July 1st.

Chair: Stacy Hoult-Saros, Valparaiso University,

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A Philosophy of Toys

The death of the toy functions as a microcosm for the advent of modernity. According to Baudelaire’s “A Philosophy of Toys,” once destroyed, a toy reveals an internal lack – an absence of any distinctive metaphysical identity.  This early moment of disposability signals “the beginning of melancholy and gloom,” and all art heretofore can only pale in comparison to that first wonder that a toy exudes, which is the promise (and subsequent denial) of soul in the inanimate object.  A philosophy of toys is a unique way of considering the intersections between theories of modernity in miniature, an aesthetic of toying, the gendering of playthings, the disposability of symbolically-labeled accoutrement, and the management of junk.  The toy is an important but often neglected object for reconsidering play through the valence of a plaything.

Please submit 250-word abstracts to Laura Richardson, by June 3, 2011.       

Chair: Laura Richardson, Rice University,

NEW - Playful/Serious Spaces in Postcolonial Discourse/Literature

Playful/Serious Spaces and Postcolonial Discourse/Literature

Postcolonial theorists/writers over the years have taken up serious topics and issues affecting colonized subjects. These issues range from identity (re)construction, counter hegemonic ideologies, deconstructing binary categories, hybridity, third space, and giving voice to the Subaltern. These issues, however serious, have been tackled in a “playful” manner in some contemporary literatures emerging from colonized geographical spaces (such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America). How can writers playfully address serious subjects in different contextual spaces? How do postcolonial writers balance the act of “playfulness” and “seriousness” in different genres of literature? Are there any risks of being playful? The balancing act of play and seriousness points to the ways in which postcolonial discourse complicates the boundaries of language(s) and social spaces. 

Proposals of up to 300 words are due by midnight on July 11th. Please include MMLA Playful/Serious Spaces and Postcolonial Discourse/Literature in the subject line and submit to and

Chair: Delphine Fongang, Illinois State University

EXTENDED - Playing Across Borders: Katherine Mansfield and the Margins of the Modern

Panelists are invited to submit abstracts (250 words) for papers on Mansfield's difficult relations with the transnational scene of the modern, modernism, modernity.  Submissions might consider facets of Mansfield's ambivalences about national and imperial affiliation or other modernists or modernisms or literary professionalism.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Todd Martin, by July 1st.

Chair: Todd Martin, Huntington University/Katherine Mansfield Society,


EXTENDED - Playing the Field: Women Writers and Games

In the 19th and 20th centuries, women writers knew that they had to "play the game" when it came to negotiating their way in their world, whether it was through the savvy business skills required to survive the male-dominated, white-dominated world of publishing or the sly social skills necessary to navigate daily life. Through their own experiences and those of their characters, writers such as Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskill, and Zore Neale Hurston demonstrated their ability to play all the right moves.

This panel is seeking submissions that examine how women writers "played the game" to negotiate their way in the world, and/or how their characters did the same in their fictional worlds. Papers may focus on how women writers and their characters used their intellectual and social attributes to "play the game."

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Christine M. Brovelli, by July 1st.

Chair: Christine M. Brovelli, North Central College,

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EXTENDED - Playing with Current Concerns in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction

The current popularity of The Hunger Games Trilogy has brought young adult dystopian fiction to the forefront of both readers' and scholars' minds this year. Yet this genre has always produced innovative novels that reflect contemporary hopes and fears in their playful (and often violent) explorations of the future. Many authors use potential future worlds to comment upon contemporary concerns, including the loss of literacy, gender roles, political participation, and more. Presenters are invited to submit papers that consider how authors explore current issues in future dystopian and utopian worlds and what those predictions reveal about perceptions of young adults today.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to by July 1st.

Chair: Kristi McDuffie, Illinois State University,


EXTENDED - Playing with Fire: The Ethical Challenges Facing Non-Minority Scholars of Minority Literatures

While minority studies programs have come a long way in academia, we still have relatively few minority scholars studying and teaching African American, Native American, Asian American, Latino/a, Queer, and other minority literatures.  Most scholars agree that it is better for such literatures to be studied and taught by non-minority members than for them not to be taught at all, but is this a dangerous game?  This panel will address the pedagogical and scholarly challenges facing non-minority scholars of minority literatures.  How do we become a contestant in someone else’s quiz show without claiming to know all the answers?  How do we respond to, teach, and analyze minority texts in a culturally-responsible way?  How do we perform or play the expert while still acknowledging our outsider status in the game?  We invite papers on this topic from both minority and non-minority perspectives.  

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Megan Musgrave, by July 1st.

Chair: Megan Musgrave, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI),


Playing with Identity:  Stories of Self and Other in German Cultural Production

This panel seeks to explore the different manifestations of identity performance and identity play from the Nibelungenlied, to Karl May’s Winnetou to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.  We invite papers that examine how practices of passing, cross-dressing and mistaken or deceptive identities challenge the established values of a given society.  We intend to interrogate what is at stake for the individuals in their particular performances of identity.  What are the socio-political, psychological and narratological implications of these identity performances?  What roles do gender, race, class and religion play?  What are the historical parameters of the performance?  We welcome all papers examining willful - and playful - enactments of identity in the cultural production of German-speaking communities across time and space.

Please submit 250-word abstracts to both Magdalen Stanley Majors,; and Jerome Bolton, by June 3, 2011

Chair: Magdalen Stanley Majors, Washington University in St. Louis,; and Jerome Bolton, New York University,


Playing with Medieval Minds

The papers in this session center on Middle English literature and its ability to negotiate the various hermeneutic complexities that present themselves to late medieval society. Given the highly symbolic nature of its culture, the medieval mind was afforded numerous occasions for playing with meaning. As a consequence of these interpretive challenges, medieval notions of play were as complex and varied as they are today. The papers offered in this session explore diverse moments of medieval play that range from the medieval mind's anxiety over misidentifying truth, the playfulness of sacrament as gift, rule-bound discursive contests that prompt identity formation, and the role of the supernatural in games with dire consequences. This session will suggest possible cognitive approaches to Middle English literature by exploring how its prose, drama, and poetry construct relationships between the individual and the supernatural, the community, and the world.   

Please submit 250-word abstracts to Matthew R. Bardowell, by June 3, 2011.

Chair: Matthew R. Bardowell, Saint Louis University,


Playing with Risk in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Science

This panel seeks papers that examine the theoretical and material practices of experiment and the production of scientific knowledge.  Papers may deal with any aspect of scientific experiment in the the botanical, biological, chemical, and physical sciences, including aesthetics, representation, semiotics, politics, and cultural stakes.  Questions for consideration include: How does conceptualizing scientific work as “playful” inform or challenge the purpose of experiment to produce “serious” knowledge?  How might the spaces in which science is practiced, performed, and analyzed be conceptualized as a playground?  How do literary texts play with depictions of scientific experiment?  Applications of contemporary theory to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century texts are welcome as are literary analyses of scientific texts from this period. 

Please email 300-word abstracts to Liz Hutter at by June 3rd.

Chair: Liz Hutter, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities,


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Posthuman, All to Human

This panel will discuss what is indicated by the term "Posthuman."  In part because it is often paired with the counterpart "Posthumanism," the Posthuman usually is referenced when advances in technology reveal new dimensions of human possibilities; this pattern of usage suggests that the human mind is an essential part of Posthuman studies.  

Papers in this panel will discuss meaningful ways the term can function by examining literary and other texts that concern aspects of “posthumanity.”  Essays may consider to what extent novels and other texts treat issues such as advanced computer "concsciousness," the possibility of human extinction, the advance of animal rights, and the implications of reproductive ethics.  The panel aims to help define and render meaningful a term that has so much semantic "play" that it possibly loses the value of signification.

Please submit 250-word abstracts as email attachments to by June 3, 2011.

Chair: Timothy James Sutton, Florida Gulf Coast University,

Reading as Interplay

This panel is interested in the ways performative or experimental criticism can meet the challenges of reading innovative literary texts.  We are particularly interested in the interplay between critical reading and writing on self-reflexive and minor texts that resist normative critical practices.  Engaging with "reading" as both a metaphor for critical practice and a site to renew conversations about the nature of reading as critical method, we ask: What might a performative criticism look like?  In what ways do innovative texts themselves offer rich metaphors and models for intellectual work?  What are the uses and limitations of performative criticism?  This panel works (seriously) through play to theorize and perform a range of innovative criticisms, self-consciously addressing the generic, political, and practical implications of such experimentation.

Please submit 250-word abstracts to Kristina Banister Quynn, by June 3, 2011. 

Chair: Kristina Banister Quynn, Alma College,


NEW - Renaissance Humanism

This special two-part session on Renaissance humanism proposes to explore a series of rhetorical and cultural issues in the Latin and vernacular writings of such luminaries of European humanism as Lorenzo Valla, Angelo Poliziano, Desiderius Erasmus, and Michel de Montaigne.  The expertise of the panelists brings together comparative perspectives on Spanish, French, Italian, and neo-Latin literature of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 11th.    

Chair: Eric MacPhail, Indiana University

The Rules of the Game: Cultural Play in Nineteenth-Century Children's Literature

As of June 9th, this session is no longer accepting abstracts.

This particular Panel will focus on the intersections of children's play - fantasy, gamesmanship, adventure - and the development of an "adult" identity in children's literature from the long nineteenth century. Papers will explore literature from the age in which children were considered "little adults," and discuss how the activity of play harnessed the energy and imagination of childhood and transformed it into a training exercise for adulthood. The Panel will explore the cultural implications of play inherent in the texts discussed, and engage with the second half of the conference’s theme: how “No, seriously,” for nineteenth-century children’s literature, is perhaps the most important part of play.

Please submit 250 word abstracts to Erika Behrisch Elce, and Elizabeth Anderman,

Chair: Erika Behrisch Elce, Royal Military College of Canada, and Elizabeth Anderman, University of Colorado, Boulder,


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Serious Play in American Literature after 1870

Freud explores cynical and skeptical forms of humor--ones that allow us to enjoy attacks on institutions and on the possibility of knowledge. His thoughts open explorations into the serious social and psychological implications of humor in American literature after 1870. How does humor empower or disempower the reader and/or society as a whole? This section thus investigates the way that American humor both promotes and sublates the desire for social change, and papers can explore themes ranging from the function of humor in utopian novels to the way that social institutions are attacked by later humorists such as Heller, Vonnegut or Pynchon. Does humor sharpen or soften a critique? Does it agitate or relieve us? Send 250 word abstracts to by 08 July.

Chair: Daniel Boscaljon, University of Iowa,

NEW - Serious Play in the Political Novel

This session will consist of papers exploring the ways in which fiction writers, when turning to the political, have made use of those resources available to novelists and short story writers interested in non-realistic, non-traditional, experimental, difficult—playful—forms and modes. While traditionally (and reductively) conceived “realism” has often been assumed to be the default mode for the politically engaged fiction-writer, we will examine those works that have taken alternative approaches. Among the array of questions our panelists might ask: How can writers engage the political? How have politically committed works used the resources of non-realistic narrative? How have particular historical circumstances motivated such narratives? How have such narratives responded to more general political truths?

Send brief abstract and CV to by July 11th.    

Chair: Samuel Cohen, University of Missouri

NEW - Serious Religion at Play in the Long Eighteenth Century

Throughout the long eighteenth century religion was still serious business, yet many began to "play" with the boundaries of religious expression. Evangelical movements like Methodism swept the country, but raised the spectre of religious "enthusiasm" in the minds of the some.  Religious subjects dominated public discourse as the nation sought to work through its religious identity. Papers could address any of the issues related to religious identity in England: how authors began to "play" with religious ideas, how "enthusiasm" was redefined during the period, how authors attempted to play with religion by making it absurd in satire, or how despite this religious play, there were still serious consequences for those who went too far.

Send paper proposals, 300-500 words to Andrew Winckles, by July 11th

Chair: Andrew Winckles, Wayne State University

NEW - "Seriously" Different: Playing the Foreign in Early Modern Drama

People and commodities from abroad played a vital role in Renaissance London's urban scene, and their influence made their way into the era's theaters as well.  The panel aims to explore how early modern dramas played with the foreign.  How are foreign people, texts, and commodities represented in the Renaissance theater?  How do these dramas play with the notion of foreigness, and to what effect?  Papers can explore playhouse invocations, appropriations, and exploitations of the foreign, as well as ways in which early modern drama invited audience members to lay claim to the foreign. Please submit 250-word abstracts to Carol Mejia-LaPerle at ‎‎ and Hillary Nunn at by July 11th.  

Chairs: Carol Mejia LaPerle, Wright State University ‎and Hillary M. Nunn, The University of Akron

NEW - Sociality and the Color Line in American Literature

This panel would bring together innovative perspectives on the relationship between race and “the social” in an American literary context.  Looking at fiction and poems that range from the antebellum period to the postwar era, the members of the panel will each present historically-oriented perspectives on their respective texts, yet the overall panel will explore how the category of race has both mobilized and constrained social relations.  In particular, panelists will engage in three site-specific meditations on the way racial difference or specificity mediates sociality in the form of cross-racial erotic encounters, racialized political collectives, and the intimacy between black care workers and white children. 

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 11th.    

Chair: Jack Kerkering, Loyola University Chicago


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EXTENDED - Teaching Graphic Narratives in the Literature Classroom

Increasingly comic books and graphic narratives/novels find their way onto literature syllabi. Recent anthologies such as Teaching Visual Literacy: Using Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Anime, Cartoons, and More to Develop Comprehension and Thinking Skills, edited by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher, and Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels: Page by Page, Panel by Panel, edited by James Bucky Carter, emphasize the use for such texts in secondary schools. Even the MLA has an edited collection called Teaching The Graphic Novel, edited by Stephen Tabachnick. But what are the benefits of teaching comic books and graphic narratives/novels specifically in college? And how do we best go about doing it? This panel seeks papers that discuss the benefits of teaching these new genres in the Literature and/or Composition classroom. Papers may address pedagogical issues and concerns.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please submit 250 word abstracts to Robyn L. Schiffman, by July 1st.

Chair: Robyn L. Schiffman, Fairleigh Dickinson University,

NEW - Tom Stoppard

This session presents differing perspectives on Stoppard's diverse creative output. Papers will range from a consideration of Stoppard's over half-a-century fascination with Shakespeare and various historical periods to his examination of the relationship between scholarship and poetic creativity in "The Invention of Love." It also will draw upon Stoppard's neglected lecture on Shakespeare, "Is it true what they say about Shakespeare?" Stoppard's short stories "Reunion," "Life, Times, Fragments," and "The Story," and his only novel "Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon" will be explored, as will be his film adaptations--represented by his work on Ballard's "Empire of the Sun." Additionally, Stoppard's other major drama "Arcadia" will be examined.  

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 11th.    

Chair: William Baker, Northern Illinois University

NEW - Transatlantic: Italy, Spain, and Latin America

This panel focuses on comparative and transatlantic approaches to sixteenth-, seventeenth-Italian and Spanish and nineteenth-century Latin American literary texts. We ask proposals to consider the intertwining of texts between the Italian states and Imperial Spain, as well as Spain and the emerging nations of Latin America in the nineteenth century.  We will focus on concepts that include nation, empire, and social class in the works of Machiavelli, Cervantes, and 19th-century Latin American authors.  Papers could explore, for example, the successful journey of Don Quijote into the New World and its use by 19th-century Latin American authors, and the presence of Italian literary texts in Golden Age Spain.  We are also interested in finding a Latin American presence in Spain or Italy in the contemporary world.

Please e-mail abstracts not exceeding 250 words to by July 29th.    

Chair: Patricia Vilches, Lawrence University

NEW - U.S. Latino Literatures: Playing with Discourse, Performing Identity

Critics Judith Butler and Marvin Carlson contend that performance is no longer something created by someone for someone, but is instead a modality used to communicate ways in which identity is practiced, produced, played with, negotiated and constrained. As a live production discourse is, then, a type of performance provided by the narrating self in the negotiation of identity.  This panel calls for papers on Latino narrative that focus on depictions of how characters play with the  performance of discourse in situations such as the de/construction of identity, for purposes of parody, for protection of a damaged or disguised self, and so on.

Please submit 250-word abstracts to Judith Richards, by July 11, 2011

Chair: Judith Richards, Park University


Who's Telling This Story?: Playing with Narration

This session will feature papers focusing on texts that play or experiment with the processes of narration.  We will explore what kinds of insights are prompted by novels narrated in the second person, texts where the narrative point of view switches abruptly, fiction where the narrator openly clashes with the characters, texts or films where the narrator's direct address to the audience is disruptive or disturbing, to name only a few possible examples.  A focus on works that make overt their processes of narration will help us discern the role narration plays in shaping the texts we read.  Papers about works from any time period or genre are welcome.

Please submit 250-word abstracts to Marjorie Worthington, by June 3, 2011

Chair: Marjorie Worthington, Eastern Illinois University,

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Writers at Play: Exercises and Suggestions for the Creative Writing Classroom

This session will explore the ways in which "play" can be used in undergraduate instruction to improve student (and instructor!) poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Building on the call of past M/MLA panels for a more practice-based creative writing pedagogy, our panelists provide handouts and exercises which encourage students to creatively investigate genre, sensory detail, emotional complexity, and the nature of memory. Drawing on cross-disciplinary work ranging from Oulipien theory to current psychological research, our panelists demonstrate the variety of sources informing a new generation of creative writing instructors.

Please submit 250-word abstracts to David Yost, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, by June 3, 2011. 

Chair: David Yost, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee,

NEW - Women and Texts During the Middle Ages

During the middle ages, women’s roles in the ‘social game’ were oftentimes predetermined in accordance with male-constructed views of the world. It is not surprising then that the most prominent women from the period (queens, saints, visionaries) are also those who challenged their conferred roles and negotiated the creation of new ones. In many cases, such negotiation was closely dependent on the complex relationship that these women established with the world of texts (fictional works, hagiographies, chronicles). Written by men, texts had the power to not only facilitate the creation of new social spaces for women, but to also validate or authorize these same spaces.

The session is seeking submissions that focus on how certain medieval women negotiated their place in the world through their writings or the writings of others about them. Papers may focus on any historical or fictional female figure from the medieval period. Please submit 250-word abstracts to Boncho Dragiyski, by July 11th.  

Chair: Boncho Dragiyski, Washington University in Saint Louis

You Do Not Talk About Chuck Palahniuk

Open topic on any aspect of Chuck Palahniuk's fiction, non-fiction, or film adaptations. Preference will be given to papers related to the conference theme,"Play...No, Seriously," such as, but not limited to, discussions of humor, irony, reversal, and ways in which the novels play against genre, literary conventions, or cultural or critical expectations.

Please submit 250-word abstracts to Jesse Kavadlo, jkavadlo@maryville.eduby June 3, 2011. 

Chair: Jesse Kavadlo, Maryville University,


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Auxiliary Conferences

Foreign Language Film Conference IV

Interested scholars are invited to submit papers on aspects of film from traditions other than English, for the fourth-annual Foreign Language Film Conference.  The conference will be hosted at the Midwest Modern Language Assocation that will take place on November 3rd-6th 2011, in St Louis, MO.

The informal theme for FLFC IV will be the MMLA conference informal theme:  “Play ... No, Seriously”

Abstracts are invited in the following categories:

Cinema and play

    • Cinema and theatre
    • Foreign language films and/as entertainment
    • Directors, actors and players and iconic comedians

No seriously!

    • Cinema in foreign language classes
    • Comedy in foreign language films
    • Humor across borders

Playing in the cinematic world

    • From fun to deadly: fantasy, sci-fi, animation, and other genres
    • Sports and games in films
    • Plays on film

These possible topics are not exhaustive and other suggestions are welcome.  Please send 250-word abstract as an email attachment in Microsoft Word format.  All submissions should be in English, including citations.  Deadline for submission of abstracts: 30th April 2011.  Please send all abstracts to the following two contacts:  Rosemary Peters ( and Véronique Maisier (

Organizers: Rosemary Peters, Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge,, and Véronique Maisier, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale,

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