ACLA 2021 Snapshots of the Past: Memory and Photography in Literature and Film (Virtual conference, April 8-11)

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

Call for papers: The American Comparative Literature Association’s 2021 Annual Meeting

Snapshots of the Past:
Memory and Photography in Literature and Film

Location: Virtual conference Abstract Submission Deadline: October 31, 2020

Time: April 8-11, 2021

Organizer: Dr. Mavis Tseng

Associate Professor
Taipei Medical University


Since its invention in 1839, photography has redefined visual expression and culture, blurred the line between technology and art, and mystified the notion of “the original” and “a copy;” furthermore, it has transformed how we know our world, structure our memory, and make sense of time. Jennifer Green-Lewis argues that photography allows Victorians to embrace the fleeting nature of time and develop language to tell their stories of the past. Kate Flint explores flash photography’s capacity to “stop” time, and its power to reveal shocking social conditions, to illuminate what was once hidden in darkness, and to stage the mundane in everyday life. Damian Sutton believes that we should recognize “the open-endedness of time expressed in the photograph, either as a potential for an abundant future or as a depth of meandering remembrance.” Celia Lury shows how photographic images can alter our consciousness, and even implant false memories in individuals to create a “prosthetic culture.”

With the rise of digital photography and social media, picture taking and sharing are instant and effortless today. In 2017, it is estimated that we took a collective 1.2 trillion photos. What should we do with all these memories? How do these contemporary photographic practices (photo-taking, photo-storing, photo-viewing, photo-sharing, photo-editing, and photo narration) affect our memories? Do they create more sustaining memories? When we count on our cameras to remember for us, how does this cognitive offloading influence the way we experience and remember the world? How is the relationship between (analogue or digital) photography and memory imagined and represented in literature and film?

This seminar will explore the fundamental notions and offer new perspectives on the central role of photography in memory studies, literary criticism, film studies, comparative literature, cultural studies, and media studies. Submissions which take an interdisciplinary approach to the topic are particularly welcome.

Potential topics include (but are NOT limited to):
- analogue/digital photography and memory
- photographic practice: (re-)producing, collecting, displaying, categorizing and distributing images
- photography and social media
- photography and time
- ephemeral photography
- photography and the everyday
- photography in museums and archives
- personal and collective memory in photography
- photography theory (Benjamin, Kracauer, Barthes, Sontag, etc...)

thth st - the conceptualization and representation of photography in the 19 , 20 , and 21

- mnemonic devices and technologies

Please send a 300 word abstract and a short bio through the ACLA portal

The paper submission portal will remain open until 11:59pm EST on October 31st.

If you have any questions about this seminar, please feel free to contact Dr. Mavis Tseng at


Here is how to submit a paper to our fully virtual conference (from the ACLA e- mail):

1.) You can reach the virtual conference platform on the following page by clicking the button reading "Access Virtual Conference

2.) You will be prompted to log in using your ACLA account information. If you do not currently have an account you will be able to create one at that time.

3.) After logging in you will reach the Home page for the ACLA 2021 conference shown in the screenshot below. All conference information is displayed on this page. In order to view the seminars, click the menu for "View Seminars" at the top of the screen.

4.) You can scroll through the seminars or use the keyword search tool on the right side of the screen to find a particular seminar. Once you are ready to apply, click the button beneath the seminar title reading "Apply to this Seminar" (see screenshot below). Follow the steps to submityour paper abstract.

* please select the seminar “Snapshots of the Past: Memory and Photography in Literature and Film” when you submit your paper.