Shifting Landscapes: Class and Capitalism in Literature, Film, and Culture

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

The rapidly shifting landscape of capitalism in our current moment requires that we resituate our analyses of texts and sites of cultural production with the intent to question categories of class and overarching capitalist structures. Echoing theorists such as Jonathan Beller whose work attends to novel developments in capitalist economic formation, this seminar seeks to examine the place of texts within a constantly changing capitalist landscape. With this in mind, this seminar responds to the ways in which accumulation, commodification, distribution, and markets become specialized economies, such as the information economy, attention economy, and surveillance capitalism, to name a few. Further, this seminar will take a broad approach to the question of ideology, following Gramsci in understanding it as “a conception of the world that is implicitly manifest in art, in law, in economic activity, and in all manifestations of individual and collective life.” In doing so, this seminar aims to examine the potential of texts to play both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic roles.

To these ends, this seminar will ask how class and the capitalist mode of production function within and exert force upon texts and their contexts—in film, literature, art, video games, social media, and other extratextual spaces such as fan sites. Some of the questions we seek to engage with are: In what ways do texts enact or engage with the specialized economies of our current moment? How might texts offer resistance to the capitalist system and imagine otherwise? Conversely, how might texts operate, either directly or indirectly, in the reproduction of the capitalist mode of production? In what ways do texts function as commodities and how is that process of commodification reflected within the structure, content, advertisement, and dissemination of those texts? How does labor or commodification intersect with race, gender, sexuality, ableness, etc.? And does this intersection present new vantage points from which to consider how class and the capitalist mode of production function?

We especially welcome submissions that focus on the following topics:

  • Alternative or specialized economies resulting from texts and sites of cultural production
  • Commodification and the role of commodity fetishism in engaging with texts and sites of cultural production
  • Interpellation or the resistance to interpellation as text
  • The hegemonic role of texts and their potential as a site of counter-hegemonic struggle
  • The intersections of labor or commodification with class, race, gender, sexuality, ableness, etc. both within texts and in their production and distribution

Please submit an abstract of approximately 250-500 words that describes your proposed seminar paper by May 31st, 2023, to the submission page:

Accepted participants must submit a completed draft no later than October 1st, 2023 to be shared with all seminar participants before the conference. Papers should be between 10-20 pages, 12-point font, double spaced, and include a “Works Cited” section. All participants are expected to read each other’s essays prior to the conference and provide a response to one person as assigned by the chairs.

Location: Portland, OR

Conference date: Oct. 26-29, 2023