Margaret Atwood Studies
From its start in 1984 until 2007, The Margaret Atwood Society published a society newsletter. In 2007, the scholarly journal Margaret Atwood Studies replaced the newsletter format. The journal invites submissions on a rolling basis (from both members and nonmembers of the Society alike). Essays submitted must be the original work of the author(s) and neither published nor under consideration for publication elsewhere. Essays should be focused primarily on the work of Margaret Atwood, between 2,500 and 6,250 words, double-spaced, written in grammatical English, and documented following the conventions outlined in the latest MLA Handbook. To facilitate blind review, submissions should include a cover sheet with contact information and include no references to authorship in the essay.
Margaret Atwood Studies
All submissions will be peer reviewed by an international editorial board. Every effort will be made to notify authors within three months of the editors’ decision. Non-members of the society may submit work, but authors should be members of the society prior to publication.
There is no submission deadline; we take submissions on a rolling basis. Submit via email as an attachment to Dr. Karma Waltonen at email@example.com.
MLA 2024 (Jan 4-7, Philadelphia)
Calls Past Deadline
Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association
Los Angeles, CA
November 11 – 13, 2022
“Geographies of the Fantastic and Quotidian”
“Margaret Atwood’s Settings and Spaces”
Margaret Atwood’s works are replete with significant spaces: the forest in which Lucy disappears in “Death by Landscape,” Iris’s mansion in the fictional Port Ticonderoga of The Blind Assassin; Offred’s room, haunted by the Offreds who came before her in The Handmaid’s Tale; Aunt Lydia’s hiding place in Ardua Hall in The Testaments; the rooftop gardens of the MaddAddamtrilogy; Kinnear’s basement in Alias Grace, and others. We’re in a Renaissance of Atwood scholarship, prompted in part by contemporary parallels to the events in her dystopias and to the Hulu and Netflix adaptations of The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace, respectively. This panel will investigate the real and imagined spaces in her works, from the large, like Boston and New New York, to the small, like the box of chocolates in which Hairball resides in its eponymous story or Tony’s war games board in The Robber Bride. We’ll look at how spaces influence and represent politics, as well as how our characters live and die in these distinct locations.
Submit proposals via PAMLA’s online system (https://pamla. ballastacademic.com) by May 15, 2022.
San Francisco, CA
January 5 – 8, 2023
Following recent bioengineering marvels and the first successful pig-to-human heart transplant, the Margaret Atwood Society panel welcomes proposals for papers on depictions of the nonhuman in Atwood’s works.
250-word abstract and bio are due to Lee Frew, firstname.lastname@example.org, March 15, 2022.
November 16 – 21, 2022
As we find notes of Atwood’s works coming to fruition in news stories and politics, it is tempting to call her an oracle. However, Atwood’s brand of speculative fiction lends itself to showing up quite frequently (as she famously said about The Handmaid’s Tale, “Nothing went into it that had not happened in real life somewhere at some time” — and history does repeat). From medical breakthroughs, to environmental tragedies, to questions about women’s reproductive freedoms, we see countless examples from Atwood’s works in our current post-now, post-Trump, current/post-pandemic world, but this call seeks to go deeper than merely pointing them out, and asks us to explore some potential questions:
What lessons can we take from Atwood’s works and/or characters to navigate this post-now world? (Consider such topics as our online lives, political infighting, racism, threat of war, new/reignited gender and sex battles, climate change, etc.)
How can we approach teaching Atwood’s works in new ways that advance criticism and promote community in this post-now landscape?
Through the lens of Atwood’s works, what roles do literature and the study thereof — or the humanities more broadly — play in creating a more just post-now world?
While Atwood’s works of speculative fiction (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, The MaddAddam Trilogy, The Heart Goes Last) lend themselves handily to this topic, we also encourage papers that explore Atwood’s other works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, or combinations of two or more of Atwood’s works.
Submit a 250-word abstract and brief bio to panel chair Denise Du Vernay, email@example.com, by May 15, 2022.
Margaret Atwood Studies: Special Issue
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one most travelled by,” Aunt Lydia sardonically muses in The Testaments. “It was littered with corpses, as such roads are. But as you will have noticed, my own corpse is not among them.” Following the Margaret Atwood Society’s 2022 MLA’s panel, “Wilderness (and Other) Tips: Concepts of Survival in Atwood’s Works,” the 2023 edition of Margaret Atwood Studies will have the same theme. Papers exploring the theme of survival on Atwood’s work and/or adaptations are welcome. Email your essay with identifying information redacted, along with a cover page with your name and an abstract, to journal editor Karma Waltonen (firstname.lastname@example.org) by June 1st, 2022.
Theology and Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale and Other Worlds
Extended CFP: Edited volume (under contract)
Due date for abstract submission: September 24, 2021 EXTENDED TO NOVEMBER 1!
Abstracts are still being accepted for an edited volume (under contract) on theology/ spirituality/religious studies and the works of Margaret Atwood.
Abstracts that discuss Atwood’s works with theological perspectives other than Christianity are especially welcome as are abstracts drawing from a range of traditional but also contemporary theologies, including feminist theology; ethics and especially the ethics of care; constructive theology; political theology; ‘death-of-God’ theology; theo-poetics; theologies of race; LGBTQ+/ queer theology, and other approaches of radical theology.
The writings of Margaret Atwood are replete with explorations of theological topics, including just this brief list of possibilities: meaning and order in the universe, mediations on human nature, Biblical motifs, anthropocentricism and the animal kingdom, eco-spirituality, gender and matters of identity (and meaning), death and rebirth, the question of evil, and personal agency/free will. This CFP welcomes abstracts from newly-minted and independent scholars as well as established scholars and researchers.
Send an abstract of no less than 350 words in a Word doc format and a current academic CV by September 30, 2021 to email@example.com. Inquiries about the CFP should be emailed to the same address.
UPDATE: POSTPONED TO 2021
January 15 through April 15, 2021
(Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association)
Las Vegas, NV
November 12 – 15*
“City of God, City of Destruction”
Organizer: Shelley Boyd Kwantlen, Polytechnic University
Drawing inspiration from PAMLA’s 2020 conference theme “City of God, City of Destruction,” this panel will explore the intersections of place, systems of belief, and despair within Margaret Atwood’s speculative fiction. Described as the “Prophet of Dystopia” in a 2017 issue of The New Yorker, Margaret Atwood has garnered critical praise throughout her career for the duality of her dystopian/utopian visions, whether it be the palimpsestic settings of Gilead in her 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, the God’s Gardeners’ eco-religious commune in her MaddAddam trilogy, the Positron Project in The Heart Goes Last, or most recently Aunt Lydia’s Ardua Hall in The Testaments, which was awarded the Booker Prize in 2019. Although Atwood herself is an agnostic, she fully appreciates the significant role of religion and systems of belief in telling stories and thereby shaping the world. Within Atwood’s speculative fiction, the powers of belief and religious doctrine often result in characters inhabiting or journeying through settings that are simultaneously experienced as exile and salvation, imprisonment, and sanctuary.
Panelists are invited to examine how systems of belief and/or religion have shaped Atwood’s visions of place within her speculative fiction by focusing on one particular work or by exploring a common setting across multiple works.
All approved panelists must join PAMLA to present at the conference and must be members of the Margaret Atwood Society to present as part the Society’s panel.
Paper proposals, brief abstracts, and bio statements must be submitted through PAMLA’s website by creating a user account at https://pamla.ballastacademic.com/ by no later than April 15, 2021. Any questions about the panel may be directed to the chair Shelley Boyd (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Atwood Panel for MLA Jan 2022 in Washington, DC
UPDATE: POSTPONED TO 2021
Due to concerns related to the pandemic, the 2021 MMLA convention for Cleveland has been canceled and the Milwaukee meeting scheduled for November 2020 will be postponed to 2021 and will be held in Milwaukee in November 2021, with the same venue and topic.
“The Cultures and Subcultures created
and inspired by Margaret Atwood”
Midwest Modern Language Association
November 5 – 8
“Cultures of Collectivity”
Organizer: Denise Du Vernay, Loyola University Chicago
In all of Atwood’s works of fiction, cultures are created (usually with their own vernacular) whether they are the post-apocalyptic survivors of the Maddaddam trilogy, the mean girls of Cat’s Eye, the academics of The Edible Woman and Life Before Man, or Mayday in The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments, Atwood’s works are rife with cultures of collectivity.
Additionally, cultures created outside Atwood’s works are inspired by these works (and even to an extent inspired by Atwood herself), such as the handmaids who appear at statehouses to protest limitations on women’s reproductive rights (not to mention handmaids who may appear at the occasional ill-conceived theme party or bridal photo shoot); the numerous ballet, opera, television, and stage adaptations of Atwood’s works which have created multiple extant storylines of various works; and Atwood-focused book clubs, sessions and panels at academic conferences, and even the Margaret Atwood Society itself, all of which are concerned with Atwood and her works and have the specialized vernacular and rules one would find in any subculture.
This panel seeks to delve into how Atwood’s works derive and create meaning through subcultures, collective acts found inside and outside the works themselves, or the formation of communities. Papers that discuss how this Atwoodian moment is of particular importance will be of particular interest.
Please email your submissions to Denise Du Vernay at email@example.com by May 31, 2020.
Approaches to Teaching Atwood
Approaches to Teaching the Works of Margaret Atwood
Survey responses and abstracts due August 31, 2020
To be published by the Modern Language Association and edited by the Vice President of the Margaret Atwood Society Laurent Rule Maxwell (of the Citadel), we invite essay abstracts on teaching the works of Margaret Atwood. We also invite instructors who have taught the works of Margaret Atwood in their classes to give their input through the survey link below.
Submit your input through this survey
“Examining the Longest International Border: The US and Canada in Atwood’s Works”
(Modern Language Association)
January 7 – 10
Organizer: Lauren Rule Maxwell, The Citadel
“Examining the Longest International Border: The US and Canada in Atwood’s Works”
The Margaret Atwood Society’s panel will explore the representation of Canada and the U.S.A. in Atwood’s works. Papers may investigate depictions of the nations themselves, the relationship between the two nations’ peoples, or instances of navigating/crossing the long border. Papers considering how Atwood is taught, e.g. her inclusion in American Lit syllabi, will also be considered. Panelists must be members of The Margaret Atwood Society and the MLA to present. Submit abstracts of 250-500 words and a brief biographical note to Lauren Rule Maxwell at firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 April 2020.
The Margaret Atwood Society proudly announces its first all-Margaret Atwood conference, to be held at University of Göttingen, Germany.
MARGARET ATWOOD’S AESTHETICS
UPDATE: POSTPONED TO 2021
International Conference, 14-16 October 2021,
University of Göttingen, Germany
Convenors: Dr. Dunja Mohr (Erfurt)
and PD Dr. Kirsten Sandrock (Göttingen)
For Margaret Atwood, politics and art inherently belong together. In the pioneering poetry collection Power Politics (1971), Atwood addresses the intertwining of the personal and the political, which has run through her oeuvre ever since; “Power is our environment. We live surrounded by it: it pervades everything we are and do, invisible and soundless, like air.” (1973, 7) For decades, Atwood’s work has resonated as tales of and testaments to political, socio-economic, and (bio)technological concerns of our present times. While Atwood has been vocal about politics, an environmental activist, and keenly involved with the PEN association, her writings have recently acquired a new international impact that underlines the fusion of politics and aesthetics in her work. Her classic female dystopia The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) has gained momentum as a prophetic 20th-century allegory of 21st-century political developments in the US, seeing a 670% year-on-year increase in sales and firmly sitting on the Sunday Times bestseller list for sixteen weeks in 2017. Exceptionally popularized by the multi-Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning Hulu TV series adaptation (Miller 2017–), Atwood’s dystopian work has received a surprising fan following, including admonitory dress-ups in Handmaiden gowns. The publication of Atwood’s recent Booker prize winning The Testaments (2019), a revisiting of The Handmaid’s Tale, came along with a global fanfare, midnight book store launches including staff in the signature Handmaiden gowns, live readings, and a ‘Margaret Atwood Live’ broadcast to cinemas around the world.
In Political Aesthetics (2010) Crispin Sartwell terms the conceptual “intimate” (11) relationship between politics and aesthetics “artpolitical,” arguing that all political systems, and politics of resistance, use aesthetics and an aesthetic system. With reference to the importance of aesthetics for a political philosophy, Ernst Bloch has emphasized the important political function of narration, “Stage and story can be either a protective park or a laboratory; sometimes they console or appease, sometimes they incite; they can be a flight from or a prefiguring of the future” (1968). In this sense, literary and media representations and cultural adaptation practices contain a significant transformative potential that reaches beyond the page. Although arguably not all literature is driven by a political impetus, literature that intentionally triangularly oscillates between reality, speculation, and fiction provides an exceptional imaginary laboratory—what John Gardner called a “moral laboratory” (1978)—for ethical, political, and personal choices and for concerns about resilience, responsibilities/respons-abilities, and vulnerabilities (cf. Johnson 1993; Nussbaum 1995, 1997, Butler 2016, Haraway 2016).
Our conference seeks to address this interaction between politics and aesthetics in Atwood’s oeuvre as well as its various transmedial adaptations. We seek to explore the various facets and layers of the artpolitical in her work, including for example the themes of social and environmental justice, Anthropocene, posthumanism, the role of religion or political satire as well as social control, and (biotech-)identity. While The Handmaid’s Tale and its adaptations have gained special attention in recent years, we also welcome papers that address different works by Margaret Atwood, including her poetic, fictional, and non-fictional work as well as her speculative fiction. We invite contributions from different fields of research and are particularly interested in interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches, including political sciences, cultural and media studies or sociology.
Topics may include, but are not restricted to:
- political and literary aesthetics
- Canadian literature and power politics
- genre politics
- narratological approaches to artpolitical
- prosumers, fan culture, and political organization
- gender, body, and (national) identities
- teaching artpolitical
- the politics of writing: testimony and witnessing, knowledge and power
- posthumanism and biotech
- transmedia adaptations
- serialization, sequels and re-visions
- environmental justice, Anthropocene
- totalitarianism, political systems, surveillance, corporatism
- vulnerabilities, response-abilities, acts of resistance
ABSTRACT SUBMISSION: Please submit your abstract for a 20-minute presentation (no more than 250 words) and a brief bio (max. 150 words) to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS is 20 February 2020.
The Margaret Atwood Society is sponsoring the conference with a “Best conference paper Margaret Atwood Society” Award ($250 USD) and granting one-year free memberships to the winner and the two runners up. For eligibility, please submit your full conference paper until 14 September 2020.
ACCUTE 2020 London, Ontario
(May 30 – June 5)
“Testaments, Testimonies, and Intertexts”
Organizer: Karen Macfarlane, Mount Saint Vincent University
Proposals are invited that address Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and issues that are raised in the novel itself and that are raised by its publication. Such issues may include (but are not limited to): Witnessing, perspective, storytelling, testimony (in both a legal sense and in the sense of its relation to trauma), sequels, re-visions of previous texts/worlds, and adaptations. Please submit by 15 November 2019 through the ACCUTE Proposal Submission Form.
Edited Collection on Atwood
(NOTE: This collection will not be a publication of Margaret Atwood Society but is a call by a Society member and is posted here as a courtesy.)
Margaret Atwood is a world-renowned writer who has always identified herself specifically as a Canadian writer, even at a time when it was argued (even within Canada) that Canadian literature didn’t exist. Her identity as a Canadian is very important to her but, over the course of her career, her work reveals a progression to a more global viewpoint. Atwood’s earlier work invites an examination primarily of internal borders (between Canadian provinces, between urban and natural spaces and in the psychic spaces of her characters) where her later work more obviously offers opportunities to examine intersections of transnational spaces.
This proposed collection would examine Atwood’s use of borders, both literal and figurative, and the intersections of language, culture and peoples that result from crossing those borders. Atwood’s most recognized works, especially recently, are The Handmaid’s Tale and the Maddaddam trilogy. Abstracts are welcome on any of her work but the goal would be to look at more than just her most famous novels and do some comparative analysis. In fact, Atwood writes in many genres and her borders between those genres are not always absolute. This project is open to various interpretations of borders.
Deadline for proposals: July 20, 2019
MMLA 2019 (Chicago, November 14–17)
“Duality & Doubles in Margaret Atwood”
This panel seeks to explore the complexity of Atwood’s characters and works through the lens of the MMLA’s theme for 2019: “Duality, Doubles, and Doppelgängers.” Papers may discuss the dual identities of Offred and the others in The Handmaid’s Tale (the names the women used to go by and the people the women used to be—and in many cases, still are), the importance of mirrors in various works by Atwood, the two narrative points of view in The Edible Woman, or the various other characters in Atwood’s works who have a double character or nature. Papers may discuss the Hulu series based on The Handmaid’s Tale, but preference will be given to papers that focus on one or more written works by Margaret Atwood.
All approved panelists must join MMLA to present at the conference and must be members of the Society to present as part of the Society’s panel.
Abstracts of 200–250 words and a brief biography should be sent to panel chair, Denise Du Vernay, email@example.com, by May 15, 2019.
MLA 2020 (January 9-12, Seattle)
We hope to sponsor two panels at the next MLA. Abstracts of 150-250 words and a brief biography are due to Karma Waltonen (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 3/15/19. MLA gives priority to panels with MLA members (all approved panelists must join MLA to present at the conference). MAS also asks that panelists at our MLA sessions be members of the society when they present ($15).
Panel 1: Graphic Atwood: Atwood’s Graphic Novels and Illustrated Works (including literature for children).
Panel 2: We are proposing a roundtable discussion of The Handmaid’s Tale sequel. MLA needs our proposals well before the book is out, so your abstract would tell us which lens you will use to discuss the text and why.
ACCUTE, June 1-7, 2019, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
Joint Session: ACCUTE/Margaret Atwood Society
Panel Title: Margaret Atwood in Collaboration
Organizer: Karen Macfarlane, Mount Saint Vincent University
Margaret Atwood is generally recognized for her single-authored works. But recently public attention has turned to her collaborations with artists such as Johnnie Christmas and Ken Steacy in forthcoming graphic novels and comics such as Angel Catbird and War Bears. These may be Atwood’s most recent collaborations but they are far from her only ones. This joint session seeks proposals that address works that Atwood has produced in collaboration with other authors, artists, composers, critics, and others. Papers may, for example, address her early collaboration with artists like Charles Pachter, Maryann and Aryann Kovalski, with composers like Tobin Stokes, and authors like Naomi Alderman. Papers may also address the issue of failed collaborations.
Proposals should be sent to the ACCUTE office by November 15, 2018. Inquiries may be addressed to Karen Macfarlane at email@example.com. Please send the following: A file containing a 300 to 500-word paper proposal without personal identifying marks and the 2019 Proposal Info Sheet available on the ACCUTE website.
2019 NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association)
March 21–24, Washington, D.C.
Margaret Atwood’s Borders and Intersections of Culture, Language, and Peoples
Deadline for submissions: September 30, 2018
Margaret Atwood is a world-renowned writer who has always identified herself specifically as a Canadian writer, even at a time when it was argued (even within Canada) that Canadian Literature didn’t exist. Her identity as a Canadian is important to her but, over the course of her career, her novels have revealed a progression to a more global viewpoint. Atwood’s earlier work might invite analysis of internal borders (between Canadian provinces, between urban and natural spaces, and in the psychic spaces of her characters) whereas her later work more clearly offers opportunities to examine transnational spaces.
This panel would examine Atwood’s use of borders, literal and figurative, and the intersections of culture, language, and peoples that result from crossing those borders. Atwood’s most recognized works, especially recently, are The Handmaid’s Tale and her Maddaddam trilogy. Abstracts are welcome on any of her work(s) but the goal of the panel would be to look at more than her most famous novels and to do some comparative analysis. We might look at her fiction over the years, as well as her poetry and non-fiction. In fact, Atwood writes in many genres and her “borders” between the genres are not always absolute. This panel would be open to considering borders of many types and looking at where intersections result or where cultures, languages, and peoples remain separate and distinct.
More information on the 2019 NEMLA convention and location can be found here: https://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention.html
Please go to https://www.nemla.org and create a username account (free) to submit your abstract. The deadline for submitting an abstract is September 30, 2018.
2018 MMLA (Midwest Modern Language Association)
November 15-18, Kansas City
Consumerism and Science Fiction: From Modernism to Postmodernism
Science fiction and speculative fiction have long been tied to a critique of consumerist capitalism. Writers like Ursula K. LeGuin and Nancy Kress have questioned how scientific discoveries resulting in consumable products and technologies (Churten Theory, the ansible, Y Energy) can alter social and economic realities. Margaret Atwood discusses the identities generated as a result of magazine reading. Kornbluth and Pohl describe consumerism in the terms of exploitative corporate practices. This panel will consider how consumerism in science fiction has been discussed in SF over the past century, including thoughts on the relationship of science fiction to scientific discoveries and science fiction and diverse media. This panel is sponsored by the Margaret Atwood Society; papers incorporating Margaret Atwood’s works will get preference.
Please submit an abstract of 250-300 words along with a brief biographical note to Dr. Joseph Hurtgen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Atwood Society will host a panel at the 2019 MLA conference, 3-6 January 2019, in Chicago, IL. MAS’s panel is entitled Atwood on TV: Adaptations. Send a 250-500 word abstract and a short bio to Karma Waltonen (email@example.com) by 15 March 2018. Note: Presenters, once confirmed, must join the MLA and the Margaret Atwood Society. Membership to MAS is $15 a year and can be done online here.
The Atwood Society will host a panel at Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English, or ACCUTE, 2018 conference, May 26-29 at the University of Regina. MAS’s panel is entitled “Some books just escape from the box”: The Handmaid’s Tale in Contemporary Culture. Send a 350-500 word abstract and other required documents to the panel organizer, Karen Mcfarlane, by November 1, 2017. Note: Presenters must either be members of ACCUTE or Margaret Atwood Society. Membership to MAS is $15 a year and can be done online here. Additional conference details (and submission instructions) on ACCUTE’s CFP.
Midwest MLA Panel 2017
Margaret Atwood Society is pleased to announce our new affiliation with Midwest MLA. The 2017 convention is November 9-12 at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati, OH. The panel at MMLA hosted by the Margaret Atwood Society is titled “The Handmaid’s Tale: Past, Present, and Future.” Papers on the novel, the Hulu series, or both are welcome. Submit a 250 to 300-word abstract and short bio to Denise Du Vernay by May 15, 2017 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
MLA Panel 2018
MLA 2018 will be in New York January 4-7. The panel at MLA hosted by the Margaret Atwood Society is titled “Renegades and Revenge: Hag-Seed &/or The Heart Goes Last.” Submit a 250-300 word abstract and short bio by March 15, 2017, to Eleonora Rao (email@example.com)
Special Issue: Margaret Atwood Studies: Ageism and Aging
MLA 2017 will be in Philadelphia in January. The Margaret Atwood Society is proposing two panels–one in conjunction with The Doris Lessing Society.
Panel One: “Humor and/as social critique in Margaret Atwood’s novels, short stories and poetry.” 250-300 word abstract by 17 March 2016 to Eleonora Rao (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Panel Two: “Boundaries of Life: Ageism and Aging in Works by Margaret Atwood and Doris Lessing.” This session, co-sponsored by the Margaret Atwood Society and the Doris Lessing Society, is inspired by the 2017 Presidential Theme, “Boundary Conditions.” By focusing on ageism and aging in the works of Atwood and Lessing, two of the twentieth century’s most prolific and influential women writers, this panel aims to explore the ways these writers depict the passing of time in relation to life experiences and self-consciousness. Some questions papers might answer include: What does it mean to come of age? How do age and the aging process affect how we see ourselves? When and how does one become old? How does age discrimination shape societies and individuals? In addition to examining individual works, papers may also look at the authors’ careers more broadly and discuss how their treatment of aging as a theme has changed as they themselves aged. Send abstracts to Lauren Rule Maxwell (email@example.com) by March 15.