Call for Papers: Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association 2022 (Animal Studies and Literature)

Toshiaki Komura's picture
Call for Papers
November 11, 2022 to November 13, 2022
California, United States
Subject Fields: 
Animal Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Humanities, Literature

The 119th annual conference of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA 2022) will be held at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center and Hotel in Los Angeles, CA from Friday, November 11 to Sunday, November 13, 2022.

As part of PAMLA 2022, this special session entitled "Animal Studies and Literature: Animals as the Fantastic and Quotidian" (roundtable format with shorter papers) seeks papers broadly related to the intersection of literature and animal studies, across genres and national literatures, with a special interest in proposals that engage with the 2022 PAMLA conference theme: Geographies of the Fantastic and Quotidian. As the series preface of Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature states, various academic disciplines, including literary studies, can be found in the process of taking an “animal turn,” questioning the ethical and philosophical grounds of human exceptionalism by engaging seriously with nonhuman animal presences. The questions that are raised in this line of inquiry have become increasingly more important today. If the last two years of the pandemic have revealed anything, it is the limits of human-centered thinking: our society exists in a delicate balance with the nonhuman world, where an encroachment into the wild can unleash infectious diseases into the human population and companion animals can offer comfort and healing in times of need.

This session is intended to offer a venue where we ponder how we can move forward in the post-2019 world. Below are a few examples of the questions that can potentially be asked in this session; other relevant inquiries will be welcomed as well. Given the limits of human control over nature, what are the responsible and constructive ways of engaging with animals? As William Blake’s “The Tyger” suggests, animals have long been regarded as an element of the fantastic and the sublime; and as seen in Margaret Atwood’s “February” and Marge Piercy's Sleeping with Cats, animals have also long been an integral part of our quotidian life. In this context, what would be the ethics of representing animals or animal suffering in literature—especially if, as some scholars argue, literature is one of the critical components in how people learn moral sentiments? (How many of the readers project their own lockdown experience onto the caged jaguar in Ted Hughes’s “The Jaguar,” and could that be considered an empathic reading, or a mere consumption of the animal as a symbol?) What are the political and legal ramifications of the philosophy that underlies animal-standpoint criticism—should, for instance, Happy the Elephant be granted nonhuman personhood?—and its implied or expressed parallel to other standpoint theory movements, such as feminism and antiracism? If to rethink the animal were to rethink the human, what do animals teach us about ourselves that we might otherwise not know?

Areas of inquiry may encompass, but are not limited to, the following:

  • theories and practices relevant to animal studies and literature:  e.g. animal ethics, animal psychology, environmentalism
  • ecologies of lived spaces and places, geographies of the fantastic and the quotidian (
  • human-animal relationship   
  • ethics of representation
  • moral philosophy and literature                                                                                                                          
  • Interdisciplinary (e.g. literature, politics, cultural studies, psychology, law, etc.)
  • Comparative literature – comparison across time periods, genres, cultures, etc.                                                            

More information about the conference can be found at PAMLA’s conference website:

Paper proposals can be submitted via PAMLA's online system:

From the list of sessions, choose session number 18488, "Animal Studies and Literature: Animals as the Fantastic and Quotidian."

The abstract proposal deadline is currently set on Sunday, May 15, 2022.

Contact Info: 

Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association, 119th Annual Conference

Toshiaki Komura (presiding officer, Animal Studies and Literature special session)

Contact Email: