Critical Orwell

deadline for submissions: 
January 7, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
University of Birmingham
contact email: 

The theme of Critical Orwell: an online conference (12-14 April 2022) is how Orwell is critical and in crisis: how Orwell’s views and work matter; how Orwell operated as a judge and fault-finder, and occasionally as a pessimist; and how Orwell is a figure whose prejudices raise important questions about his canonical status in Anglo-American culture and beyond. How and why is Orwell critical now?

Call for papers

Critical Orwell invites proposals for 15-minute scholarly presentations that consider any aspect of Orwell’s life and work in relation to the conference theme: crisis; criticism; criticality. 

Orwell is everywhere. Because his thought so often inspires how people analyse trends in politics, culture, society, economics, and technology, Orwell the myth and Orwell the man himself have never been more important. Yet Orwell’s omnipresence in contemporary life should invite continuously renewing scrutiny of how and why he shapes the ways we think now. Is Orwell’s prestige a blessing or a curse? Do we need new strategies for assessing his achievements and their politically and morally ambiguous legacies in our time? Is Orwell critical, and how, in all senses of the phrase, should he be criticized? Presentations might consider: 

  • Orwell and empire, capitalism, nationalism, surveillance, etc.
  • prejudices in Orwell’s life and work
  • Orwell and philosophy / Orwell as a philosopher
  • the role of the public intellectual
  • Orwell as a cultural critic / literary scholar / media analyst
  • afterlives in scholarly criticism and posthumous reputation
  • post-colonial and (post-)feminist approaches to Orwell’s writing
  • the critical importance and relevance of Orwell’s work now 

Proposals relating Orwell to new lines of inquiry and new contexts for interpretation are particularly encouraged - in addition to the above, proposals might consider Orwell and the body; Orwell and psychoanalysis; Orwell and everyday material culture; Orwell and the emotions; Orwell and the senses, etc. 

Proposals of 200 words, alongside a 50-word biography, should be sent to Nathan Waddell via by 7 January 2022. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by early February 2022.

More information here:

Conference organisers

Conference organizers: Matt Clulee, Chris Mourant, and Nathan Waddell, University of Birmingham, UK