Call for Papers


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The British Association of Contemporary Literary Studies (BACLS) is pleased to invite abstract submissions for a virtual conference on the theme of Crisis in Contemporary Writing, to be held on Friday 26 June 2020.

We invite paper proposals on contemporary representations of “crisis” understood broadly. Our choice of theme is prompted by the Covid-19 public health crisis, which has focussed minds on:

  • contamination and contagion
  • hygiene
  • infection
  • economic and social crises
  • mental health
  • health inequalities
  • future national, international, and global exchanges

The current crisis has also, in many cases, prompted renewed reflection on the ways in which lives are lived in “normal” times, including:

  • the relationships between the micro and macro spaces in which we work, play and look after loved ones
  • relationships to technology
  • access to culture and creativity
  • travel, transport and the environment
  • how humans inhabit and affect the natural world

We welcome papers that consider these and related issues. Bearing in mind that both “criticism” and “crisis” derive from the Greek word krinein (meaning to separate, judge, or decide), we also welcome papers that explore how crises inspire critique, new ways of conceptualising experience, and new directions in thought, behaviour and policy. We understand “writing” not only as literature as it is more traditionally understood – novels, short stories, poetry and drama – but as a range of artistic forms, including digital and multimodal media, graphic novels, and screenwriting.

  • The organisers welcome proposals for a range of presentation formats, including traditional 20-minute conference papers, lightning talks of 5 minutes, and poster presentations. Crisis in Contemporary Writing presents an opportunity to present work-in-progress, or perhaps ideas that you were intending to present at events which have subsequently been cancelled. As always, we especially encourage submissions from postgraduate and early career researchers.
  • BACLS virtual conference will consist in a mix of synchronous and asynchronous events. We will ask for your contribution to be pre-distributed to conference attendees a week in advance. You will be able to circulate your contribution as a written paper (slides optional), audio or video recording. On the day of the conference, we will provide a space for ‘live’ discussions of pre-circulated contributions.

Please send abstracts of between 250 and 300 words and a short bio to the BACLS Conference Organiser, James Peacock, at j.h.peacock@keele.ac.uk. The closing date for submissions is Friday 22 May 2020.