Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA) Conference CFP: Drama and Society (Nov. 11-14 2021)

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Kimberly Jew, University of Utah
contact email: 


PAMLA 2021 LAS VEGAS: "CITY OF GOD, CITY OF DESTRUCTION" (Thursday, November 11 - Sunday, November 14, 2021 at Sahara Las Vegas Hotel, hosted by University of Nevada, Las Vegas)


Session: Drama and Society

Contacts: Kimberly Jew, University of Utah ( & Judith Saunders (

Abstract: Drama has long served as a communal mirror to society, reflecting its habits, aesthetics, politics, and cultural norms. This session seeks to discuss the many ways in which drama reveals its intricate relationship to society. Papers are welcomed that explore how drama supports, embodies, and critiques the society in which it was created; how theater arts, with its variety of tools, successfully conveys the complexities of such a relationship. Papers are also encouraged to consider the topic from the perspective of diverse places, time periods, and genres.

This year papers are also welcome that address the conference theme “City of God, City of Destruction.” This theme resonates with drama’s role in expressing society’s relationship with the city – nostalgically, satirically, and politically, as well as stage design that mirrors the Las Vegas architectural style of the exuberantly ornate.

Description: As theater has traditionally been a platform for debate on social, political, and psychological issues – indeed anything that relates to the human condition – the standing session “Drama and Society” offers much in the way of discussion.

Theater is an essentially communal experience both on and off stage. There is a powerful, ongoing triangular relationship between what is written, how it is interpreted on stage, and the audience who are the spectators. All three components contribute to the theatrical experience. This three-legged structure invites proposals from three perspectives:

The playwright: What is the message to communicate? How does this message reflect their socio/political or personal point of view? Or, an argument can be made from the perspective of the performance – the work of those who interpret the playwright (the director, the actor, the producer, the designer, etc.). How does a production affect or comply with the playwright’s intent? As an art form, theater covers a vast array of talent. Contingent to this, discussion about the teaching of theater arts. Finally, papers dealing with the perspective of the audience. For example, one may ask why have some plays succeeded with their contemporary audiences and others have not? And why is it that some that initially failed with contemporary audiences are resoundingly successful today? How does current interpretation differ from the original? Different strokes for different folks!I hope the above suggests a sufficient, if skeletal, overview of the scope of the Drama and Society session and its encouragement for a broad array of papers.

Proposals may also (but need not) engage with the conference theme, “City of God, City of Destruction.” For example:
• Dramas that view a city in a “Jerusalem” light, such as Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.
• Dramas that highlight the viewpoint of the city slicker and the country bumpkin; town and country plays; restoration comedy of manners; Wycherly’s The Country Wife or any play that illustrates the socio-politics of London comedy from Ben Jonson on.
• Dramas that portray characters dreaming of a life that contrasts with the dirt-scratching life of the American small farmer. Sam Shepard's for example.
• Dramas that portray the greed and corruption of the city. Carol Churchill’s Serious Money, for example.
• Stage directors/producers who have exploited the spectacular on the stage, whether it be the extravaganza musical, or Max Reinhardt’s spectacular, theatrical productions compared to the minimalist theater architecture of the Russian revolutionary Vsevolod Meyerhold, or any Beckettian production.

Conference Note:

This November, PAMLA will be offering both in-person (in Las Vegas, NV) and virtual sessions, which you can search for today, alongside important deadlines, membership details and conference fees.

Top tip: when you log in and enter the Call for Papers portal, remember that you have to click on the title of the session that you are interested in submitting your paper to, and then click on the green “Submit Abstract” icon at the top right corner of the page!

And for those who are interested, note that our conference theme this year is “City of God, City of Destruction,” an homage to contemporary urban literature, culture, architecture, as well as other topics, including the noir genre, postmodern cityscapes, dystopia and postindustrial decay, and/or the sublime, spiritual spaces found across many urban depictions.

We look forward to reading your submissions, and all of us at PAMLA HQ hope for calmer, better days ahead.