2023 Conference Theme

PAMLA 2023 Portland: “Shifting Perspectives”

The 120th annual PAMLA Conference will be held between October 26-29, 2023 at the Hilton Portland Downtown in Portland, Oregon.

PAMLA welcomes special session proposals for the 2023 PAMLA conference in Portland, Oregon in November 2023 on topics of scholarly interest that are not too close to the topics of our general (standing) sessions (see below to find a list of PAMLA’s general/standing sessions).

You can submit a proposal for a special session from now up until February 1, 2023: https://pamla.ballastacademic.com/.

Our system for paper proposals will open in February 2023.

While we welcome special session proposals on a wide variety of topics, we are particularly interested in special session proposals that engage with the 2023 PAMLA Conference Theme: Shifting Perspectives.

For PAMLA 2023, we look to a figure born in 1899 as the exemplary writer for our times: Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentine essayist, storyteller, and poet, whose life works might best be considered as an ideology and literary theory unto itself.

The oeuvre of Borges enacts a brace of literary innovations that continue to be relevant and influential. These include uses of intertextuality, metaphysical musings, labyrinths, time, consciousness, dreams, the doubling of the self, as well as juxtapositions of mathematical precision and fantasy. His narrative and poetic texts are characterized by a series of motifs and philosophical underpinnings that subtly, yet pervasively, guide the reader toward a larger questioning of boundaries between reality and fiction.

Borges has been described alternately as apolitical, anti-totalitarian, anti-fascist, pro-Pinochet, anti-democracy, pro-democracy; in short, the nuance, play, and apparent contradictions between and within his written work and his interviews echo the fates of good readers and bad readers in his stories. Borges hereby urges us to empathetically shift perspectives and question our world as well as our assumptions about the rules that govern it, whether that means refusing political or aesthetic dogma, rejecting facile “readerliness,” or throwing out generic and cultural expectations.

Crucially, Borges’s work engages in surprising reversals, as in “The House of Asterion,” in which we are treated to the minotaur’s version of the myth of the labyrinth. Taken together, these motifs underpin a series of texts that destabilize any unitary perspective while nurturing instead complex and compelling histories, puzzles, and interpretations.

Inspired by the fiction and nonfiction of Jorge Luis Borges, our 2023 PAMLA Conference theme is “Shifting Perspectives.” How might we apply this dynamic to our respective fields of study and shine a light on new approaches, thereby engaging in the critical and theoretical processes of shifting our own views and exploring the results? How might we shift perspectives in terms of our scholarly and intellectual pursuits, our world views, our creative writing, and our teaching?

Some natural connections with this theme might be found in topics such as:

  • Shifting Academia: What is a scholar? (digital humanities, public-facing humanities, expectations for scholarship, independent scholars)
  • Double-consciousness: Looking at oneself through two different sets of eyes
  • Hybridity: Mestizo, Hapa, code-switching, whiteness, passing, colorism, multiethnic/mixed families, nanobots, cyborgs, etc. How does hybridity in all of its forms push us to look at society through two (or more) sets of eyes?
  • The many facets of La Malinche: betrayed daughter, translator, traitor, mother of mestizaje, survivor, icon
  • Reader-Response Theory
  • Derrida, slippage
  • Disciplinary divisions: techies and fuzzies—dichotomy, Venn Diagram, or spectrum
  • Pandemic: Perspective shifts, cultural pressures and shifts related to this universal event, including isolation vs. human connection, perspectives on socialization, approaches to teaching (Zoom and other new methods), etc.
  • Neurodivergence and/in society
  • Intersectionality in reading, creating, and interpreting: “No more separate spheres!”
  • Death and Rebirth
  • The Mandala Effect
  • Voice and narration
  • The Phillip K. Dick effect—everything is real and unreal (left/right politics)
  • Relativism: can we achieve truth?
  • Postcolonial theory
  • Gender spectrum
  • Ageism: Alzheimer’s, “Boomer,” and other delights –expectations and realities of aging
  • Animal rights
  • The Anthropocene
  • Music: long songs and small songs—waves, counterpoints, and TikToks, oh my!
  • News and (info/enter)tainment
  • Smart phones: shifting perspectives on news and policing
  • And (naturally), Borges

*PAMLA encourages special session proposals with alternative formats, such as roundtables, workshops, creative conversations, etc.; PAMLA encourages session proposals that will welcome paper proposals from a wide variety of scholars, not just scholars from the presiding officer’s host institution.

*PAMLA hosts the following General/Standing Sessions (So please make sure that your special session proposal does not merely replicate the topic of one of these existing General/Standing Sessions):

21st-Century Literature; Adaptation Studies; African American Literature; American Literature before 1865; American Literature 1865-1945; American Literature after 1945; Ancient-Modern Relations; Anime and Manga; Architecture, Space, and Literature; Asian American Literature; Asian Literature; Austrian Studies; Autobiography; Bible and Literature; British Literature and Culture: To 1700; British Literature and Culture: The Long Eighteenth Century; British Literature and Culture: The Long Nineteenth Century; British Literature and Culture: 20th and 21st Century; Carceral/Prison Studies; Children’s Literature; Classics (Greek); Classics (Latin); Coalitional Feminisms; Comics and Graphic Narratives; Comparative American Ethnic Literature; Comparative Literature; Comparative Media; Composition and Rhetoric; Creative Writing; Critical Theory; Cultural History; Digital Studies; Disability Studies; Disney and Its Worlds; Drama and Society; East-West Literary Relations; Film and Literature; Film Studies; Folklore and Mythology; Food Studies; French; Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Literature; Germanic Studies; Gothic; Hip-Hop Poetics; Indigenous Literatures and Cultures; Italian; Italian Cinema; Italian Ecocriticism; Jewish Literature and Culture; Latina/o Literature and Culture; Linguistics; Literature & the Other Arts; Literature and Religion; Medieval Literature; Middle English Literature, including Chaucer; New Italians; Oceanic Literatures and Cultures; Old English Literature, including Beowulf; Poetry and Poetics; Post-Colonial Literature; Religion in American Literature; Rhetorical Approaches to Literature; Romanticism; Science Fiction; Shakespeare and Related Topics; Spain, Portugal, and Latin America: Jewish Culture & Literature in Trans-Iberia, Spanish and Portuguese (Latin American); Spanish and Portuguese (Peninsular); Teaching with Media and Technology; Teaching Writing Across the Disciplines; Television Studies; Travel and Literature; Veterans Studies; Video Game Studies; Western American Literature; Women in Literature; Young Adult Literature and Culture.

Other Special Session Topics

As always, we welcome special session proposals (due February 1, 2023 via our online special session proposal system: pamla.ballastacademic.com) on the preceding topics related to our conference theme, but also on other topics of broad interest (in other words, special session proposals will be entertained that do not connect to the conference theme, as well as proposals that do). This year, we are particularly interested in special session proposals broad enough to perhaps justify becoming general (standing) sessions after three successful years as special sessions.

For example, PAMLA’s board would welcome special session proposals on topics such as:

  • 1923
  • African Literature
  • Multilingual American Literature (in other languages than English, or in English and other languages, both)
  • Arabic Literature and Culture
  • ASL
  • Audiences or Reader Response Theory
  • Audio (or Sound) Studies
  • Books: perhaps including Textual Studies, Materiality, History of the Book, etc.
  • Canadian Literature and Culture
  • Class or Marxist Literature, Film, and Culture
  • Creative Writing: Drama or Creative Writing: Creative Nonfiction or other topics of interest
  • Digital Humanities
  • Environmental Media
  • Family (or Metafamily)
  • Fan Fiction or Fan Studies
  • Futurisms (to include Afrofuturism, Indigenous Futurism, etc.) Or Multi-Ethnic Futurisms
  • Hmong
  • Immigrant Studies (Or Movement, Migration, and Immigration)
  • Infrastructure Studies
  • Interdisciplinary or Innovative sessions
  • Teaching of Literary Works (focusing on a particular work)
  • Modernism
  • Multi-ethnic German
  • Museum Studies
  • Objects, Stuff, and Things; Object Studies
  • Pedagogy
  • Performance Studies
  • Portuguese
  • Posthuman or Animal Studies
  • Posthumanities
  • The Postmodern
  • Slang, Languages, and Dialects (or Underground Languages)
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Spatial Studies
  • Transcultural (or Transnational) Literature
  • Translation Studies
  • Vietnamese

If you have any questions, please contact PAMLA Executive Director Craig Svonkin (director@pamla.org) or PAMLA President Yolanda Doub (ydoub@mail.fresnostate.edu).