Robots, AI, and Labor: On the Future of Work

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 


Robots, AI, and Labor: On the Future of Work

Northeast Modern Languages Association (NeMLA) annual convention

Boston, MA

March 7-10, 2024


This panel calls for papers related to speculative fiction that imagines alternative forms of work vis-à-vis robots and artificial intelligence. Originating from the Czech word ‘robota,’ meaning ‘forced hard labor,’ the word ‘robot’ was first coined by Karel Čapek in the play R.U.R. (1921). Since his play, the form of work that robots in fiction engage in has expanded from production in the factory to care work, sex work, and even police and surveillance – both in real life as well as in fictional imaginations of highly developed, sentient robots. Today, with advancements in AI technology, we are constantly bombarded with news about AI taking over jobs in the near future and how education and work both need to be completely reimagined.


This panel seeks to ask questions about our society today through SF that engages with new social models of the future, whether it is a highly optimized society where everyone is assigned a job that fits their “potential,” or a jobless future where the concept of a job is obsolete. What does human life look like in these future(s)? What different values will we have? What values do we have to unlearn? How will we organize our society? How do we find fulfillment and support ourselves? What relationship do we have with technology and nature in this world? What can we learn from these radically different worlds and what recurring tropes and rhetoric should we be wary of so that we do not repeat the problems of capitalism, colonialism, and neoliberalism?


Please submit abstracts of up to 300 words by September 30, 2023 through the NeMLA portal:


For questions, please contact Cynthia Shin (