Rereading Elden Ring

deadline for submissions: 
April 7, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
The University of Virginia Department of English Speakers’ Committee

With its massive world, open-ended quests, and near-limitless options for customization, Elden Ring––the most critically acclaimed video game of 2022––is designed to be replayed. But it is also a text that demands to be reread. Whether we study its environmental storytelling or the lore in item descriptions, the game’s fragmented narrative fuels exegeses that resemble the long history of Biblical interpretation, midcentury criticism of modernist enigmas like Ulysses, and hermeneutic fandoms surrounding popular culture like Twin Peaks. Its spatiotemporally disjunctive universe frustrates efforts to interpret its world “realistically” and prompts one to place it in dialogue with theories of unconventional space and time. And its imposing difficulty––the feature for which the game is perhaps most famous––places it in a genealogy of self-consciously difficult art.

We seek papers of about 10 minutes for the virtual panel “Rereading Elden Ring” hosted by the University of Virginia Department of English Speakers’ Committee. Issues in Elden Ring to be considered might include (but will not be limited to):

-       Narrative form and/or environmental storytelling
-       Atmosphere, affect, and spatiality
-       Repetition in play and narrative
-       Heroes, NPCs, and “character-systems” (Woloch)
-       Wonder and the sublime
-       Collective criticism and interpretation
-       Fantasy and/or genre
-       The ideology of open-world game design
-       Horror and the uncanny
-       Representations of monarchy and empire
-       Elden Ring’s relations to social constructions such as race, gender, and class
-       Death

Please send a description of 150+ words and CV to with the subject “Rereading Elden Ring” by April 7. We plan to host the panel Thursday, May 4 at a mutually convenient time for presenters and the Speakers’ Committee.

Organizers: Erik Fredner (University of Virginia), Nathan Wainstein (University of Utah)