The Body in Pain - ACLA 2021 (Virtual)

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

"We don't even ask happiness, just a little less pain"

- Charles Bukowski

As the world continues to battle the Covid–19 pandemic, the singularity of suffering has come to manifest itself in many forms. The anxiety centring quarantine and isolation, the fear of contagion and disease, and the agony of sickness, pain, and death are part of our mundane reality. One cannot help but wonder at the ways in which the experience of corporeal discomfort has become contiguous with communal suffering. The vulnerability of the human body is being increasingly imagined and recognised as a collective rather than an individual experience, thus, blurring the interior-exterior binary of the self and the community; which is why it becomes imperative to contemplate on the physical, emotional, and cultural experience of illness and pain. Can suffering be understood in a meaningful way? In what ways has the pandemic changed our attitudes towards death, dying, and bereavement? Across history, how has literature and the arts negotiated with the body in pain? Can artistic expressions help us face and reconcile with the humanity that surrounds us?

This panel welcomes a wide range of proposals that will deliberate on the theme of ‘suffering, vulnerability, and the human condition’

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • the diseased body
  • contagion and isolation
  • bereavement
  • death and the corpse
  • illness, wound, and pain
  • cultural, artistic, and literary representations of illness/death/suffering


ACLA's annual meeting will take place virtually between April 08 - 11, 2021. Please submit your paper proposal (200-250 words) via ACLA's online portal by October 31, 2020. 

If you have any queries, please contact the organiser at