The 2021 ELLAK International Conference "Beyond Pandemics: Reimagining the Humanities and the New Normal"

deadline for submissions: 
June 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
English Language and Literature Association of Korea (ELLAK)
contact email: 


The 2021 ELLAK International Conference


“Beyond Pandemics: Reimagining the Humanities and the New Normal”



- Organized by The English Language and Literature Association of Korea (ELLAK)

- Venue: Korea University, Seoul, South Korea

- Date: December 16-18, 2021


The English Language and Literature Association of Korea (ELLAK) is pleased to announce an international conference on “Beyond Pandemics: Reimagining the Humanities and the New Normal” to be held at Korea University, Seoul, South Korea, from December 16 to 18, 2021.


The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down. In addition to disrupting our day-to-day experiences of how we work, travel, and interact with others, the pandemic has had far-reaching consequences on the economy, educational system, healthcare services, and international relations. As we continue to come to grips with the havoc that the new coronavirus has wreaked on the world, the “new normal” has become an integral part of our vocabulary. However, it is not an entirely new term, for its usage can be traced to as early as 1922. After being increasingly discussed in relation to other major crises such as the 2005 avian flu, the 2008 financial crisis, and the global recession that shortly ensued, the “new normal” has now become firmly enmeshed in our collective discourse and imagination in the post-COVID era. While it can simply refer to our experiences as the pandemic continues to spread and impose drastic changes upon our lives, it can also be employed as a rhetorical means to mitigate the disruptions caused by the virus and normalize our current situation. On the other hand, the “new normal” enables us to shed renewed light on the frailties of the human condition as well as the structural inequalities that prevail in our societies and consequently reimagine the post-pandemic world.


At this critical juncture, in which we are simultaneously experiencing and transitioning to a “new normal,” ELLAK aims to examine how the studies of English language and literature (or more broadly, the humanities) can contribute to the interrogation of this term and thereby help us better navigate the latest in the series of crises to have afflicted the world. It is during such times of crisis and radical change that literary and cultural texts can play a significant role. That catastrophes have a stimulating effect on the mind and imagination is made evident by the plethora of plague narratives, which have accompanied human history. As previous works such as Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, Charles Brockden Brown’s Arthur Mervyn, Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” and Albert Camus’ The Plague demonstrate, literary and cultural texts do more than just provide a compelling imaginative account of the effects that actual and imagined disasters have on humanity and the world. In addition to helping us attain a critical understanding of the dynamics of various political, economic, and social institutions, they lead us to imagine alternative modes of being and thinking as we deal with the exigencies of the present and face an increasingly uncertain future.


By examining the various ways in which literary and cultural texts have responded to not only the current crisis, but also past global and local disasters that date back to the beginning of human history, ELLAK seeks to reimagine what the term “new normal” means and can mean as it relates to all aspects of human life in the past, present, and future. Rather than uncritically accepting and perpetuating the new (or old) status quo, we would like to use this opportunity to explore how the humanities can aid us in not only overcoming the problems and challenges produced by disasters beyond the current pandemic, but also bringing about fundamental change in our respective societies and global community. The 2021 ELLAK conference organizing committee invites scholars, educators, and students in the humanities as well as other disciplines to submit papers that directly or indirectly address issues related to such an imaginative reconstruction of the “new normal.”


Topics may include but are not limited to the following subjects:

-     Crises and disasters

-     Conflict and war

-     Biopolitics

-     Affect, emotion, and body

-     Disease, pain, and trauma

-     Medicine and healing

-     Social distancing and networking

-     Untact and contact

-     Social (in)equality and otherness

-     Race and gender

-     Media and culture 

-     Environment and ecology

-     High education and pedagogy

-     Humanity, posthumanity, and transhumanity   

-     Digital humanities


To apply for participation in the conference, submit an abstract and short bio to by June 30, 2021.


Proposals may be submitted for either individual papers or sessions.

-     Individual paper proposals should include an abstract of no more than 250 words and a short bio.

-     Session proposals should include a one-page proposal with a title and topic for a session of three to four papers, along with individual abstracts and short bios.


Each presentation, which can be delivered in either Korean or English, will be no longer than 20 minutes, followed by a discussion and Q&A session.


For further inquiries, please contact the Organizing Committee at


Important Dates:

-     Abstract submission deadline: June 30, 2021

-     Notification of acceptance: July 31, 2021

-     Submission deadline for papers in the conference proceedings: October 15, 2021


Registration Fee:

-     Standard: USD 50

-     The registration fee will be reduced if the 2021 ELLAK International Conference becomes a virtual conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Registration Fee includes:

-     Reception and dinner banquet (December 17, 2021)

-     Three daily refreshment and snack breaks

-     Conference program and proceedings

-     Conference bag and name tag