Animals in Literature and Film

deadline for submissions: 
April 5, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Midwest Modern Languages Association
contact email: 

Call for Papers: “Animals in Literature and Film” (Permanent Panel)

Midwest Modern Languages Association

November 15–18, 2018 in Kansas City, MO

This year's "Animals in Literature and Film" panel at the Midwest Modern Languages Association's annual meeting (November 15–18, 2018 in Kansas City, MO) invites papers engaging the conference's theme of "Consuming Cultures," specifically how the consumption or non-consumption of animals by animals (both human and non-human) has shaped our moral, symbolic, and traditional relationships with what we call "food."

Why do we eat meat? When asked why she became a vegetarian, J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello responds, "You ask me why I refuse to eat flesh. I, for my part, am astonished you can put in your mouth the corpse of a dead animal, astonished that you do not find it nasty to chew hacked flesh and swallow the juices of death wounds."

Costello's response comes straight from the mouth of Plutarch, a Roman moralist from the 2nd c. AD, whose essay "On the Eating of Flesh" has influenced generations of vegetarians, vegans, and animal rights activists. More recently, Peter Singer's response to Coetzee gets right to the chase: Knowing what we know now about the mental and emotional capacity of animals, the treatment—and consumption—of animals in the modern era is on par with mass slavery and genocide.

So why do we continue to eat animals? This panel will examine the choices behind the portrayal of eating animals in literature and film. Potential topics include but are not limited to: 

  • The preparation of animals for consumption (the slaughter, butchery, and cooking of meat) and its symbolism
  • The tradition and treatment of food prohibitions, both religious (kosher, halal) and moral (veganism, environmentalism, minimalism)
  • The spectrum of meat consumption from gluttons to ascetics
  • When animals eat humans (or when humans eat humans)
  • The development and implementation of animal rights as it pertains to animal consumption
  • Feasting and its symbolic, moral, and social implications
  • Why we don’t eat our pets—and what happens when we do
  • Disgust theory and the impact of visualizing meat in art and film
  • The morality of eating and the boundaries between plant and animal
  • The future of the meat industry and animal husbandry in science fiction

We invite submissions from all fields that engage in this topic from a literary, cinematic, or art historical angle both in our own cultural moment and beyond it. While we welcome submissions that engage in all languages and literatures, please plan to deliver your paper in English.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words (excluding bibliography) should be sent to Margaret Day ( by April 5th. Please include your name, institutional affiliation, the title of your paper, and any special audio-visual needs in the body of your email.

Applicants will be notified of their acceptance by April 16th. General inquiries may be made both to the address above or to