Pandemic Rhetorics of Motherhood

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

The next Northeast Modern Language Association Convention is scheduled to be held in Baltimore, MD, from March 10-13, 2022. The “Pandemic Rhetorics of Parenthood” panel is seeking submissions consistent with the conference theme of CARE:

As the 2021 New York Times series “The Primal Scream” explains, the Covid-19 pandemic has left mothers in crisis. Exhausted by caregiving and homeschooling, many working mothers have left the workforce or downsized their roles. Maternal stress levels are soaring across all demographics, with women of color especially vulnerable to economic precarity. Structural change remains largely allusive even as vaccination rates prompt a return to “normalcy.” Despite—or perhaps because of—these gendered injustices, the pandemic has fueled a robust cultural conversation about the responsibilities and limitations of maternity. This discussion joins a longstanding preoccupation with motherhood, one that Lindal Buchanan’s Rhetorics of Motherhood (2013) has described as authorizing women’s lived experiences and simultaneously positioning them “within the gendered status quo.”

In keeping with Buchanan’s assessment, this panel seeks submissions using rhetorical and/or feminist theory to examine pandemic representations of motherhood and mothering, understood as encompassing parenting and caregiving broadly. Proposals exploring personal, political, economic, aesthetic, pedagogical, and other discourses of pandemic motherhood are welcome. Possible topics include, but aren’t limited to, the following: the mother as teacher, the mother as worker, mothers in popular culture, rhetorics of maternal health and wellness, rhetorics of maternal anxiety and contagion, rhetorics of maternal grief and loss, and post-pandemic motherhood. Participants are encouraged to consider pandemic rhetorics of motherhood as exigencies for meaningful social change.

Abstracts are due September 30, 2021. Abstract length is flexible (250-500 words is a good guide). NEMLA's submission guidelines are available at

For more information, please contact Jeanne Marie Rose, Associate Professor of English, Penn State University, Berks: <>. You can access the panel's submission portal here: