(CFP: PAMLA 2023) Animal Studies and Literature

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

The 120th annual conference of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA 2023) will be held at the at the Hilton Portland Downtown in Portland, Oregon between October 26-29, 2023, sponsored by the University of Washington, Seattle.

As part of PAMLA 2023, this special session entitled "Animal Studies and Literature: Shifting Perspectives" seeks papers broadly related to the intersection of literature and animal studies, across genres (poetry, fiction, essays, films, etc.) and national literatures, with a special (but not exclusive) interest in proposals that engage with the 2023 PAMLA conference theme: Shifting Perspectives. "Shifting perspectives" define how humans have thought about nonhuman animals over the course of history. If animals were objects of veneration and symbolic forms of nature in premodern times, they became targets of conquest in early modern eras, and then of capture in the nineteenth century, until the "animal turn"—namely, the ascendant interest in animal ethics, animal mind, posthuman inquiries, ecocriticism, and other animal-standpoint schools of thinking—of the late twentieth century onward.

Below are a few sample questions that can potentially be asked in this session; other relevant inquiries will be welcomed. Given the limits of human control over nature, how has our conceptualization of human and nonhuman animal relationships changed? As examples such as Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat" and Haruki Murakami's "Abandoning a Cat" suggest, our sense of ethics surrounding the treatment of animals is in some ways transhistorical and in other ways unsettled; in this context, how have our ideas about animal ethics and flourishing evolved—such as seen in literary representation of animal suffering, treatment of animals, and farming or dietary practices? How would we critique representations of animals in literature—especially if we were to adopt a view of literature as one of the critical components in how people learn empathy and moral sentiments? What are the political and legal ramifications of the recent paradigm shift that favors animal-standpoint criticism, and its implied or expressed parallel to or alliance with other standpoint theory movements, such as feminism and antiracism? If to rethink the animal were to rethink the human—such as it happens in Margaret Atwood's "February"—what would animals teach us about ourselves?

Areas of inquiry may encompass, but are not limited to, the following:

  • theories and practices relevant to animal studies and literature:  e.g., animal ethics, animal psychology, environmental humanities, cultural studies, law and literature, posthumanism, etc.                               
  • hybridity, pandemic, animal rights, and other topics related to the PAMLA 2023 theme (https://www.pamla.org/conference/2023-conference-theme/)
  • empathy studies
  • human-animal relationship
  • ethics of representation
  • moral philosophy and literature     
  • comparative literature – comparison across time periods, genres, cultures, etc.                                                            

More information about the conference can be found at PAMLA's conference website:


Paper proposals can be submitted via PAMLA's online system:


From the list of sessions, choose session number 18749, "Animal Studies and Literature: Shifting Perspectives."

The initial abstract proposal deadline is currently set on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.