[UPDATE] The Artistic and Journalistic Practices of Documentary Theater (NeMLA 2013, March 21 - 24, Boston)

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

44th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
March 21-24, 2013
Boston, Massachusetts
Host Institution: Tufts University

In March 2012, the popular public radio program "This American Life" retracted its story on working conditions in Chinese factories that manufacture Apple products. The story was based on the play "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," a supposedly factual account of playwright and performer Mike Daisey's travels in China. Reporters for "This American Life" learned that Daisey had either stretched or invented key details in the play, and when host Ira Glass confronted Daisey about the inconsistencies, Daisey insisted that journalists and playwrights have "different languages for what the truth means" and that his play could be considered "true in the context of theater."

This panel seeks papers that consider the questions prompted by the controversy surrounding Daisey's play and his efforts to defend it. To what extent are documentary playwrights granted artistic license with the facts? What do audiences and critics expect from documentary plays, which implicitly promise to shape "real" stories into an emotionally engaging narrative? What strategies have documentary playwrights employed to obscure or to foreground their roles as the biased interpreters of fact? Have some strategies been considered more successful than others? What debates have surrounded specific attempts to re-present history as theater, particularly when playwrights choose divisive topics, such as Matthew Shepard's murder or the urban riots of the early 1990s?

Please send 300 - 500 word abstracts by September 30, 2012 to Cory Elizabeth Nelson, cen@brandeis.edu Please include with your abstract:

Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee with registration)

The 2013 NeMLA convention continues the Association's tradition of sharing innovative scholarship in an engaging and generative location. The 44th annual event will be held in historic Boston, Massachusetts, a city known for its national and maritime history, academic facilities and collections, vibrant art, theatre, and food scenes, and blend of architecture. The Convention, located centrally near Boston Commons and the Theatre District at the Hyatt Regency, will include keynote and guest speakers, literary readings, film screenings, tours and workshops.

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however, panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable. http://www.nemla.org/convention/2013/cfp.html