What is the Absurd? (NeMLA 2018 - Roundtable)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association)
contact email: 

NeMLA Annual Convention - Pittsburgh, PA - 12-15 April, 2018

For a time, the Absurd was one of the chief literary movements of the day. When Martin Esslin published The Theatre of the Absurd 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? Ere 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?

This roundtable will engage with these questions and others, inviting short talks (5-10 minutes) that examine the history of the Absurd, as well as its present and potential 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 ecological respects, or Bennett’s Reassessing the Theatre of the Absurd (2011), which attempts to reclassify the term. Contributions may also investigate the Absurd through case study analysis (re-examining canonically Absurd texts or evaluating other texts - especially non-Western texts - through the lens of the Absurd), through interdisciplinary approaches to the Absurd (e.g. cultural studies, gender studies, etc.), or through analysis of the very essence of the Absurd (be it Esslin’s, Camus’, or other notions).

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. By using a roundtable format we hope that each talk will serve as a springboard for a lively discussion on the nature and merits of the Absurd.

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/16841

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 (eyalhandelsman@gmail.com) and/or Johannes Kohrs (johannes.kohrs@fu-berlin.de) or consult http://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention.html