Guidelines for Presiding Officers and Chairs

General Policies and Information

If you are a presiding officer for a PAMLA standing or special session, you will likely serve as chair of the session as well. And your chair duties are very important duties indeed (as chair you will make sure every panelist is introduced, keeps to their allotted time, and you will lead discussion and ask thoughtful questions).

If you wish to be a presiding officer for the PAMLA Conference, you have an obligation to remain in contact with PAMLA’s Executive Director and conference team, respond promptly to emails or phone calls, and generally work in a polite, efficient, and timely fashion. You also have an obligation to attend the conference.  If you find you cannot attend the PAMLA conference, you must inform PAMLA’s Executive Director of your need to cancel immediately ([email protected]). And should you have to cancel, you likely will be removed from the program as presiding officer (speak to the Executive Director about that if the need arises).

You might be Presiding Officer but not Chair, or Chair but not Presiding Officer, but usually, Presiding Officers are Chairs of their sessions as well. If you are presiding over more than two sessions, we will need you to work with PAMLA’s Executive Director to find someone to chair some of your sessions.

Your Presiding Officer and Chair duties are important, since you are the person who makes sure the session is a success, and the person who the Executive Director will communicate with to make sure things go well. You are representing PAMLA and you are our main means of making sure that the PAMLA conference is a friendly, fun, welcoming, and intellectually rigorous conference. So, we need you to always be polite, even if someone is rude to you (please let the Executive Director know if that were to happen, which it hopefully won’t). In deciding which proposals to invite and which to decline, you help PAMLA to maintain a high level of scholarly and intellectual standards. And in your interactions with your panelists, fellow presiding officers, and the PAMLA team, you help us to set a high standard as well as far as our expectations for friendliness, politeness, and collegiality go. We strive to have fun, even to joke, but also to be respectful, serious writers and scholars.

So, thank you for helping PAMLA to pursue that important goal: to create a friendly, welcoming space for creative, intellectual, and academic work, and the sharing of that work!

Before, during, and after our PAMLA conference, we strive to be a kind, polite, and collegial association. We expect our members, in their communications, to strive to be friendly and polite, even when disagreeing. Please read our PAMLA Statement on kindness and collegiality expectations:

*Members of PAMLA can present one traditional panel paper at the conference, and chair one session; or, if they are not presenting a panel paper, chair two sessions. In addition to delivering one paper as part of a traditional panel, members may also present on a Roundtable, as part of a Workshop (there are no limits on how many Workshops a person may register to take), or as part of a Creative session or Special Event. (So, you may deliver one traditional paper,  chair once, and participate in a special event or Roundtable or workshop.)

*This year’s conference is entirely in person. We are not allowing papers to be given virtually, in absentia, or by proxy. We are looking into a virtual PAMLA event for a future year, but this year we want to focus on having the best all-in-person conference possible.

*Once your special session proposal has been accepted, you must pay your PAMLA membership at our membership and conference portal:

*Presiding officers, chairs, and panelists must pay both the PAMLA 2022 membership fee and the appropriate conference fees to participate in the conference. Membership in PAMLA also entitles you to receive two issues of PAMLA’s scholarly journal, Pacific Coast Philology, and online access to back issues of the journal from 1966 to the present.

*Presiding Officers are in charge of publicizing their session so as to attract strong proposals, forming a session (or if they request and receive approval, two) by inviting a sufficient number of strong proposals, and keeping their panelists informed about the conference and the session.

*Presiding Officers are typically also the chairs of the session they have formed. Presiding officers may chair two sessions, but only if they aren’t giving a traditional panel paper at the conference.

*Should the Executive Director agree to a request to split a session into two, if the presiding officer is already giving a paper in a paper panel, the presiding officer should help the Executive Director to find an appropriate chair for the second of the two sessions.

*Chairs are responsible for ensuring that all scheduled panelists know where and when their session is and how much time they will have for their paper. During the session, the chair will introduce panelists, politely keep panelists to the agreed upon time limit, reserve fifteen to twenty minutes at the end of the session for questions and discussion, and moderate the session’s discussion.

*If the session is a General/Standing session, the presiding officer must conduct an election for the presiding officer for the next year’s conference and inform the Executive Director of the results. Any PAMLA member with expertise in the area may volunteer and run for the presiding officer position.

*The presiding officer must report after the conference to PAMLA’s Executive Director Craig Svonkin ([email protected]) about the session: how many people were there for the session(s) in total, were there any late cancelations or no-shows, and who was elected to be next year’s presiding officer if the session is a General/Standing session.

*PAMLA rules generally do not allow chairs or presiding officers to present papers in their own sessions. To request an exception to this policy, contact Executive Director Craig Svonkin (at [email protected] or 626-354-7526). Do feel free, however, to propose to present in a session other than the one you are chairing.

*PAMLA policy is to not allow more than two people from the same institution in a session  (including the session chair). Contact Executive Director Svonkin to request an exception.

Publicizing Your Panel

*Publicize and promote your session among colleagues and at other organizations that you might be a part of or are associated with.

*Please post Calls-for-Papers to advertise your session at CFP websites such as:


*When publicizing your session, you can send people to the PAMLA CFP page. To propose a paper, they will need to create a user account and then they’ll be able to submit a proposal. To do so, they will first need to find and click on your session, and then on the green “Submit Abstract” button. Then they will need to submit a paper title, brief abstract, longer proposal, brief bio (if they haven’t already uploaded a bio when creating their user account, or if they wish to change their bio for the conference), and requested media needs.

*Remember that most abstracts will arrive close to the April 30, 2022 proposal deadline. Sending email reminders close to the deadline is encouraged.

  • Note: When advertising your session, include the unique URL for your session so potential participants will know where to submit their abstract online (the unique URL can be found in your acceptance email for your session). Or, send people to the CFP link where they will be able to propose.

Withdrawing a Session

*Requests to withdraw a session should be communicated promptly to Executive Director at [email protected] or Assistant Director at [email protected]. If sufficient proposals have already been submitted, PAMLA’s Executive Director may try to save the session by finding a replacement presiding officer. Once you propose a session, it is no longer “your” session. Our responsibility is to the panelists and the scholarship. And so if you have to withdraw as presiding officer, the session will likely continue on without you.

Changing a Session Format

*Any requests to change a session format will be considered (for example, from a Paper Panel to a Creative session or a Roundtable). Please email Executive Director at [email protected] for any questions about session format changes or for format requests.

*To find out more about PAMLA’s creative session formats, such as Workshops, Creative sessions, and Roundtables, see our Session Formats list.

Reviewing Abstracts for Your Session

*Only abstracts received through the PAMLA website may be considered. Should you receive an emailed submission, you will need to direct the proposer to resubmit to our proposal portal (by finding your session and clicking on it and then the green “Submit Abstract” button, and adding the submission from there).

  • February 15, 2022: The abstract submission interface opens. When a proposer submits a proposed paper, the presiding officer and the person submitting the abstract will receive an automated email notification of the submission.
  • May 15, 2022 is the initial deadline to submit abstracts. To ensure fair consideration, presiding officers must refrain from accepting any proposals until May 16. Do not email your proposers directly; you should invite using our proposal portal invitation system.
  • Presiding officers will be able to invite, decline, or recommend proposals for rerouting to other sessions beginning on May 16 (only recommend for rerouting strong proposals that simply do not fit well in your session). You may also mark proposals as “Under Review.”
  • May 16- 20: Presiding Officers invite or decline abstracts, or recommend them for rerouting, or mark them as being under review. To do so, log in to and then scroll down to your session and click on “Manage” next to your session’s title. You will then be able to see a list of all abstracts submitted to your session. By clicking on View next to a proposal, you will be able to read the proposal and then change the proposal’s Approval Status (only after May 15) from Not Yet Reviewed to Invited, Declined, Recommended for Rerouting, or Under Consideration (remember to click save). The proposer, however, will not receive notice until May 22, so as to give all presiding officers time to invite.
  • May 16- May 20: First Round of Invitations must be issued by May 20, 2022.
  • May 22: The Veil of Secrecy will be lifted, and proposers will discover via an email or by logging in if they have been invited to join a session.
  • Once you have invited a proposal, the proposer will receive an email (on approximately May 22), and will then be able to log in to confirm their participation in your session, or decline your invitation. Should you not hear back from an invited proposer in a timely fashion, feel free to send them a very polite email from your own email to theirs, encouraging them to please confirm (or decline) their participation in your session. You probably should send that email from your own private email, not just via PAMLA’s email system.
  • We will have an Extended Deadline List for those sessions still in need of more strong papers. So, if come May 16, you don’t have enough strong proposals to form a session, please email PAMLA Executive Director Craig Svonkin ([email protected]) to ask to have your session put on the extended deadline list. We have now entered the Last Call extended proposal period: proposers will have until the session is full to propose to your session.
  • July 10, 2022 (or a bit after that) is the deadline to finalize sessions. Please make sure each participant has explicitly confirmed their participation on your panel (they do so online at the site), as they may have submitted several abstracts and chosen to join another panel. Members may only present one paper on a traditional paper panel at the conference (but may also participate in one Roundtable, Workshop, Creative session, or Special Event).
  • Please do not invite more than three or four proposers to join your panel session, and no more than eight or nine to join your roundtable or Creative session or special event. Should you wish to convert a panel session into a larger roundtable (or vice versa), please contact Craig Svonkin: [email protected] or 626-354-7526.
  • If you’ve received enough strong proposals to justify petitioning for a second session, mark your session to request a split session (entering a rationale for your request) and mark your backup and possible second session selections as “Under Consideration.” You may also email or call the Executive Director ([email protected] or 626-354-7526). There is no guarantee that split session requests will be approved, so while awaiting approval begin inviting panelists for one session.
  • If you have not received enough strong proposals to form a quality session with three or four panelists, please contact Executive Director Craig Svonkin as soon as possible.

Notifying Applicants

*Inviting a proposed paper does not commit the invitee to your session, since many people propose to more than one traditional panel session (PAMLA rules allow members to present just one traditional panel paper at the conference). This is why we have a two-step confirmation system (you inviting, and then they accepting).

*Your PAMLA account will alert you when a proposer has already committed to another session of the same type (members may deliver only one traditional panel paper, and only one additional presentation in a Roundtable, Workshop, Creative session, or Special Event).

*Please acknowledge all submissions by May 20, if at all possible, by changing their proposal status from “Not Yet Reviewed” or “Under Consideration” to “Invited,” “Declined,” or “Recommended for Rerouting.” It is important that we not leave any applicant in doubt about the status of their submission.

*Should you like a proposal quite a bit, but it isn’t right for your session, please change its status to “Recommended for Rerouting” so that the PAMLA team can see if they can find it another home. Do not, however, “Recommended for Rerouting” if the proposal is too weak.

*Contact Executive Director Craig Svonkin as soon as possible if a second session is called for or if more strong proposals are needed ([email protected] or 626-354-7526).

*Presiding Officers should inform their confirmed panelists that their membership needs to be paid by July 1, 2022 (or as soon as possible after they are accepted).

Finalizing Sessions

*Chairs may not finalize sessions until all invited presenters have confirmed participation (changing their “invited” to “accepted”). A presiding officer’s PAMLA account will alert them whether a presenter is already committed to another session of the same type (which is not allowed).

*When confirming with accepted presenters, please check the title of the presenter’s presentation, their name, their bio, and their audio-visual requests. You may edit titles and abstracts, if you feel they need editing.

*Please wait until you have formed your session(s) to decline abstracts that you marked as “Under Consideration,” so as to retain proposals you may need for your session. If any of those proposals are quite strong, you can also change them to “Recommended for Rerouting.”

Audiovisual Requests and Wireless Internet

*Audio-visual technology requests submitted after April 30, 2022 may not be considered. (Note: At the Luskin this year, all rooms will be equipped with basic AV equipment–an LCD projector and screen.)

*Please remind applicants to indicate their individual media needs when they submit their proposals in their user accounts.

*Audiovisual equipment available for sessions include projectors, projector screens, cables, audio cables, and audio speakers.

*Presenters must provide their own computers or other devices that can be connected to the projector. If you have a laptop or other device that requires an adapter, please bring that adapter to the conference with you.

*While PAMLA makes all efforts to provide projectors and screens and audio speakers, as you know AV and media can sometimes go awry. So, please strongly encourage your panelists to arrive at their session room early and to have a backup plan (handouts perhaps) in case of AV problems.

*Wireless internet will be available at the annual conference in 2022. But if you or a panelist needs wireless, it might be wise to download any pages or videos ahead of time to your computer.

*If there are any difficulties choosing the right audiovisual request, please email the PAMLA Executive Director or Assistant Director.

Chairing Your Session

*Be sure to be in touch with your panelists ahead of the conference, to make sure they know how much time they will have for their presentation, to get a bio from them (there are bios as part of their proposal, but they may need to expand or revise their online bio), and to make sure they are prepared, registered for the conference, and clear about the whens and wheres.

*Most (but not all) PAMLA sessions last 90 minutes, and we ask that all sessions keep approximately twenty minutes for questions and discussion at the conclusion of the session. So, if you have three panelists, each may present for approximately 20 minutes. If you have four panelists, it is generally a good idea to ask them to keep to approximately 16 minutes. For roundtables and special events with more participants, do plan each panelist’s time limit and communicate such in a thoughtful, clear, and fair manner.

*During the actual session, it is your duty as chair to introduce the panelists before they speak, to give them time cues to let them know when they have five and then one minute remaining, and to keep panelists from going too long so as to make sure all of your panelists have sufficient time to present and time remains for questions and discussion. You might ask a panelist to wrap up when their time is up, giving them an extra minute. But if necessary, you may need to politely ask them to conclude.

*As chair, it is also your duty to conduct discussion and questions after each panelist has concluded. Be sure that discussion is polite, productive, and intellectually valuable. You might have to ask a question to get things started. A quality discussion and productive, polite questions are a big part of the success of any session.

*At the session, please mark down if anyone was absent, and how many people were in the room total (including yourself and the panelists). Following the session, please email that information to PAMLA Executive Director Craig Svonkin: [email protected].

*Should anyone cancel before the conference, or be a no-show, be sure to email Craig Svonkin as soon as you find out: [email protected].

*It is the duty of the presiding officers of general/standing sessions to conduct an election at the conclusion of their session for a presiding officer for next year, and to email Craig Svonkin ([email protected]) the name, affiliation, and email of the new presiding officer (as a part of their emailed report). For special sessions, no election need be held, as these special sessions must be proposed anew each year.


*PAMLA does not allow papers to be read in absentia, by webcam, or by other online means. The Executive Director and Presiding Officers are responsible for resolving any conflicts which may arise.

*Presiding Officers and chairs must email [email protected] and [email protected] as soon as possible if any participant withdraws.

*If chairs or presiding officers themselves are not able to attend, it is their responsibility to contact Craig Svonkin immediately (626-354-7526 if not well before the conference), and, if needed or possible, help find someone else to chair the session. Should a presiding officer have to cancel, their session will continue on without their participation. We do not generally cancel sessions, as long as people have already committed to attending and presenting.

*Conference registration fees may be refunded if the conference participant notifies PAMLA Executive Director at [email protected] of their need to withdraw from the program at least six weeks prior to the opening of the conference. Membership fees are non-refundable.


*If you have any questions, ideas, or concerns regarding presiding officer or session chair guidelines or the PAMLA conference in general, do not hesitate to contact PAMLA’s Assistant Director David John Boyd ([email protected] ), or Executive Director Craig Svonkin ([email protected] or 626-354-7526). They are happy to help and offer advice.