Literary Pathways through Female Sin to Sainthood.

deadline for submissions: 
July 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association & University of Nevada Las Vegas
contact email: 

The following special session has been accepted for the 2021 Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association conference being held at the University of Nevada Las Vegas November 11th through Sunday November 14, 2021. 

This panel invites papers on contemporary texts or stories from antiquity that examine the difficulties of expressing female saintliness/sexuality and the linguistic pathways formed, hurdles overcome, to do so. In early ascetic Christianity, female holiness required transcending female gender. Stories of female saints are fascinating navigations of gender and spirituality with astonishing tales of harlots becoming saints. The theme of female holiness and fallen women turning to religion persists throughout literature from George Eliot’s Adam Bede, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter and Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple, to Simone Weil’s Waiting for God and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Inverting the pattern, D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, present female protagonists who discover The Sacred within sensuality. In these stories women characters, forced or voluntarily, step outside of society, positioning as martyred saints in a desert space, resulting in a poignant outsider status that offers compelling reflections upon the world from a distance. Discussion of ancient and contemporary works will provide opportunities to look for patterns and connections between old and new on this intriguing topic. Finally, having this panel in Las Vegas – the city of sin – is bound to impact the conversation in surprising and exciting ways.

As of now there is both an in-person and a virtual session of this special panel.

For those wishing to attend the conference in-person submit to:

For those wishing to attend the conference virtually submit to: