PANDEMIC!: COVID-19 and Literary Studies

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
English Language Notes
contact email: 

Call for papers for Special Issue of English Language Notes

Pandemic!:  COVID-19 and Literary Studies

61.1 (April 2023)

Jason Gladstone, Nan Goodman, Karim Mattar, co-editors

University of Colorado Boulder



This issue is dedicated to an investigation of the meaning literature and culture can bring to our evolving understanding of and engagement with the human and posthuman dimensions of a crisis that has taken over three million human lives and caused lasting physical, emotional, and psychological damage to millions more. To this end we have divided the issue into three sections to reflect on three areas of literary studies:  narrative and literary production, eco-criticism, and higher education and the profession.  We seek contributions to all three areas of inquiry. 

In the section on narrative, we solicit essays on the representations of the pandemic in literary narratives and the effect of these narratives on the social, political, and cultural dimensions of the pandemic, domestically and globally.  In the second section we solicit essays on the environmental aspects of the pandemic in terms of the outbreak, environmental injustice, and the pandmeic’s relationship to anthropogenic climate change.  In the third section, which is devoted to the pandemic’s impact on higher education and the profession, we solicit essays on the ways in which these years of plague have accelerated the narrative of “crisis” in literary studies, and how we might rewrite that story to best confront the many challenges we are facing.  In this section we invite contributors to reflect simultaneously on the impact of the pandemic on our field in its institutional, economic, and public settings, and on how our field might best position itself to get to grips with and confront the challenges posed by Covid-19 moving forwards.

Information and approaches to the pandemic are evolving all the time, but we include here some questions contributors might want to consider: 




  • What might a literary history and geography of the pandemic look like?
  • What new critical, methodological, and theoretical models do we need to develop in order to engage effectively with the multifaceted dynamic of the pandemic?
  • How are visual representations of Covid-19 the same as and/or different from literary representations?
  • Is there a literary tradition of quarantine narratives and if so, how does the quasi quarantine imposed in some places for Covid-19 fit in?
  • Are Covid narratives gendered, and if so what are the implications for our understanding of pandemic/disease/illness narratives?




  • How has the pandemic illuminated the affordances and limitations of such environmental discourses as post-humanism, new-materialism, and bioregionalism?
  • What can literary and non-literary representations of past pandemics (factual and fictional) tell us about the environmental dimensions of the present pandemic?
  • What would an environmental approach to pandemic literature look like?




  • How might our programs and the historical, geographical, linguistic, and other requirements on which they are built be redesigned around the pandemic and other topics of self-evident interest and relevance to students (such as globalization; media, technology, and pop culture; race; gender and sexuality; and climate change, among others)?
  • How has the pandemic – specifically, the transition to online teaching – affected our literary pedagogies, and how do we effectively renegotiate the intimate relationship between bodies, interpersonal exchanges, and space in the context of an online literature seminar?
  • What has the student experience of attempting to embark on or complete a literature degree during this strange time been like, and how do we and our institutions best support them in their various research, teaching, financial, personal, and other needs?
  • How have students and faculty of color and other marginalized communities been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic within our institutional settings, and how might we address this problematic?


Essays of twenty- to twenty-five manuscript pages are invited from scholars in all fields. Interested authors should feel free to contact the editors: Nan Goodman at, Jason Gladstone at, and/or Karim Mattar at


Potential contributors may submit an article abstract by October 1, 2021 or simply submit a completed article by March 15, 2022. Time permitting, editors may share accepted contributions with co-contributors, encouraging authors to hold critical conversations. While the editors invite standard-length, single-author academic articles, we are open to other methods of critical inquiry related to the issue’s theme: position papers, clusters, roundtable discussions, interviews, dialogues, and so on.


Essays will undergo peer review. All submissions should adhere to the Chicago-style endnote citation format. Submissions should be uploaded to ELN’s peer-review website: