Empathy as Being Human in American Drama

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Modern Language Association and American Theatre and Drama Society
contact email: 

Papers will consider how American theatre and drama of any period addresses empathy as part of the human experience. What notions of empathy are sedimented into traditional form(s) and/or by what practices do American plays re-humanize compassion for “the other?” Do American plays invite us to recognize “the other” in ourselves? How might empathy, compassion, and humanism help us to ask new questions regarding American theatre’s past, present, and future - such as how American plays refashion Classical ideas about dramatic catharsis? Conversely, panelists might pursue lines of inquiry, Brechtian or otherwise, which ask readers and audiences to consider a politicized theatrical “awakening” as an empathetic act. Research here may also be mindful of how specific American plays, masters, and movements help us to ask difficult questions about the human condition rather than seek easy answers. This panel will respond to questions at issue for the American Theatre and Drama Society’s discourse community as well as the Modern Language Association’s 2020 Presidential theme: “Simon Gikandi, the 2019–20 president of the MLA, has chosen Being Human as the presidential theme for the 2020 MLA Annual Conven­tion in Seattle. The theme invites members to reflect on the role of literature and language in defining the nature of the human in the face of what appears to be its diminishment and to provoke debates on the role of the humanities in a changing world.” More information about the MLA can be found: https://www.mla.org/. The 2020 Convention will take place 9-12 January in Seattle (The 2021 convention will take place 7–10 January, in Toronto.) Please send vita and 300 word abstract by March 1st to Nicole Tabor at taborn@moravian.edu  Authors of accepted abstracts must join or renew membership to both ATDS and MLA by April 6, 2019. The ATDS statement of purpose: “The American Theatre and Drama Society (ATDS) is an incorporated organization dedicated to the study of theatre and drama in and of the Americas, its varied histories, traditions, literatures, and performances within its cultural contexts. ATDS also encourages the evolving debate exploring national identities and experiences through research, pedagogy, and practice. ATDS recognizes that notions of America and the US encompass migrations of peoples and cultures that overlap and influence one another. To this end, ATDS welcomes scholars, teachers, and practitioners world-wide.” For more information and to join ATDS: https://www.atds.org/index.html