The Handmaids’ Tales

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Trip McCrossin (Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University), Sue Zemka (Department of English, University of Colorado in Boulder)
contact email: 

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale had an enduring cultural effect well before the world began so uncannily to reflect it. Notable hallmarks of its resulting renaissance include, among others, the following three. Bruce Miller’s ongoing television adaptation, on the one hand, beginning in April of 2017, its second and third seasons moving us a few years away from Gilead as an established dystopia, as depicted in the body of the novel, toward its eventual downfall, as acknowledged in its concluding “Historical Notes.” On March 26, on the other hand, shortly before the third season’s premiere, Renée Nault’s graphic-novel adaptation of the original appeared. Most recently, on September 10, less than a month after the season’s finale, Atwood’s long-awaited sequel has come to us, The Testaments, moving us away now by roughly fifteen years. By springtime, we will be a little over six months into coming to grips with the intersection of the three storylines, looking forward to a fourth season in the summertime, and to the moment in the fall when the United States decides whether to remain on an apparent slippery slope to a real-life Gilead, in a growing cohort of nations similarly precarious. 

The moment begs pondering from related literary, cinematic, historical, philosophical, political, generally societal perspectives. The Handmaids’ Tales is meant to be a multi-venue conversation to this effect, including the following three, in order of occurrence.

• Northeast Modern Language Association (Symposium),51st Annual Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, March 5-8, 2020

• Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (Panel), 50th Joint National Conference(Philosophy and Culture Division), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 15-18, 2020

• New Directions in the Humanities (Colloquium), Eighteenth International Conference, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Venice, Italy, July 1-3, 2020 

Selections from the proceedings, together with materials additionally solicited or volunteered (individuals and groups, academic or otherwise, are encouraged to organize local events to this effect), will be collected to appear in early fall of 2020, in the context of presidential and congressional elections in the United States, and domestic and international reactions and realities.

Interested parties should submit an abstract, no more than five-hundred words in length, addressing substantively the above intersection, indicating which of the above venues it is for, together with a cv, as pdf attachments, to trip@mccrossin.org, by September 30.