(EXTENDED DEADLINE) Technology, Literature, and the Body

deadline for submissions: 
August 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Technology, Literature, and the Body 

(This is a CFP for a Special Session at the 2023 PAMLA conference in Portland, OR: https://www.pamla.org/conference/2023-conference-theme/

Please Submit Absracts via the following link: https://pamla.ballastacademic.com/Home/S/18853


This panel invites papers examining any aspect of literary treatments of the human body in relationship to technology—especially medical and commercial, but open to all—past and present. In particular, the panel is interested in literary interrogations of the means by which technology mediates the subject of the body into the public-sphere.


Before his untimely death, British theologian John Hughes identified contemporary capitalism’s “deconstructive logic of absolute utility [that] turns upon the dominating rational subject itself,” and the endgame of which is “nothing but violent self-interest and nihilism.” Martin Heidegger famously defined technology as “a human activity” that is “a means to an end,” but that also always “threatens to slip from human control.”

With this in mind, what is the relationship between technology’s and capitalism’s mutual logics of absolute utility? And what does literature have to say about a world where bodies—and human selves—are increasingly mediated via ever-more alienating proprietary technologies into the world writ-large as well as into relationship with specific, individual others? What possibilities for human agency and freedom can literature help to explore and articulate? How might literature provide a vocabulary or a methodology for living with and alongside technology?

Papers focusing on these or related questions from any literary or historical era are welcome.