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

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Craig Svonkin, Metropolitan State University of Denver
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: Cult America

Contacts: Craig Svonkin, Metropolitan State University of Denver (

Description: Cult America is a roundtable about how we got from there to here, about how cults, broadly or metaphorically imagined, have been a troubling cultural form from America's earliest days. This session explores the symptoms, causes, nature, and effects of a wide variety of American cults. While the session generally adheres to the common definition of cults--a shared commitment to a charismatic leader or ideology; a belief system that promises the answers to all of life's questions; a special solution to be gained only by following the cult's rules; an expectation of a dangerous, dehumanizing level of commitment from its members; and an increasingly limiting and alienating system of controls--it is open to alternative, broader, and figurative definitions as well. Thus, the cults to be examined are not limited to commonly acknowledged cults such as Heaven's Gate, NXIVM, the Manson Family, David Koresh's Branch Davidians, and Jim Jones' Peoples Temple. The session also welcomes readings of other cultural groups or subgroups or movements as cults or cultish. What other groups? Just as possible examples: the Puritans, Trumpism, QAnon, Harry Potter fandom, spiritualism, anti-vaxxers, Scientology, Star Wars fandom, Ayn Rand followers/Objectivism, Televangelism, and Disney fandom. The session assumes that there is something inherently cultish at the center of American history, cultural, intellectual, or aesthetic. But proposals need not necessarily address that assumption; they may focus more on structural readings and interpretations of cults or cult-like groups, practices, or trends. Presentations will likely be between seven and eleven minutes in length.

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.