Literature and Abortion

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

Approximately one year ago, on May 2, 2022, a draft decision leaked from the US Supreme Court confirmed what many had feared: that the highest US court was set to overturn the 1973 decision Roe vs. Wade and roll back protections governing women’s rights. Almost immediately after, appointment books and clinics began to close in multiple US states. This situation was far from isolated; in the U.K., for example, pandemic gains for women in access to early at-home abortion rolled back on August 29th, 2022. As these and other examples from around the world demonstrate, the present moment appears to be one of regression and regulation.

In light of these unprecedented cuts to abortion access concomitant with greater restrictions on women’s rights to make choices about their bodies, this panel takes up the politics surrounding the history of abortion as it threads through literary and artistic practice and activism. The prioritization of the rights of the unborn over the those of girls, women, and others to their own bodies has a deeply rooted precedent and has thereby been a subject of literary and artistic engagement and counterstrategy from the deep past through contemporary activist and feminist writing and art. This panel invites historians of literature and art as well as scholars of adjacent fields to consider any aspect of this engagement with abortion from antiquity to the present.

To submit a proposal for consideration, please use the PAMLA submission system: For questions, reach out to Leila Easa ( Please note that the deadline is the initial proposal deadline and is very likely to be extended by the conference.