'Lucid reason noting its limits': The Past, Present and Future of the Absurd

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association) - Baltimore, MD
contact email: 


For a time, the Absurd was one of the chief literary movements of the day. When Martin Esslin published The Theatre of the Absurd (1960)he would frame various emerging playwrights such as Ionesco, Beckett and Pinter under one label. Though they would reject the term, the notion of the Absurd stuck and would invite a flurry of criticism from the academic world. Interest in the Absurd, however, was like a match, burning with intensity before fizzling out just as suddenly. Why was this the case? Did new trends push the Absurd to the side? Were all of its possible avenues explored? Was the Absurd limited to its temporal context? Or perhaps it evolved into novel concepts such as post-humanism?


To mark the 75th anniversary of The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), Albert Camus’ philosophical treatise that established the Absurd as we know it today, this panel will look to tackle these questions and more, inviting papers that examine the history of the Absurd, as well as its present and predictions for future developments. Submissions are encouraged to approach the topic in novel ways, such as Lavery and Finburgh’s Rethinking the Theatre of the Absurd (2015) which considers the Absurd in light of ecology and environmental studies or Bennett’s Reassessing the Theatre of the Absurd (2011), which attempts to reclassify the term. Other possible examples include approaching the Absurd through case study analysis (examining canonically Absurd texts in new lights or evaluating new texts - especially non-Western texts - through the Absurd lens) or through interdisciplinary approaches to the Absurd (e.g. cultural studies, gender studies, etc.).


By looking to centralize the study on the topic, to delineate its contents and limitations and reinvigorate it through new approaches, we can begin to consider the Absurd, as it rightly deserves to be, as a literary field of its own.


NeMLA Annual Convention - Baltimore, MD 23-26 March 2017


Please submit 300 word abstracts alongside a short bio before September 30th (confirmation will be sent by October 15th) through the NeMLA submission page: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/16449

Applicants are not required to be NeMLA members at the time of submission but accepted speakers will have to become members by December 1st, 2016.

For further information contact Eyal Handelsman at eyalhandelsman@gmail.com or consult http://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention.html