While university administrators have many ways to assess a program’s or department’s effectiveness, student retention is one of the more controversial measures.  Particularly, retention often seems inherently at odds with our roles as college professors since—fairly or not—issues of retention are conflated with concerns over grade inflation and academic rigor.  Yet, as studies show, universities lose students over the first two years of college for a variety of reasons: financial, the absence of strong academic mentoring and peer relationships, the strains of commuting, as well as family pressures and responsibilities that threaten to derail academic pursuits. Indeed, many academic initiatives which outwardly profess to improve student retention and are based on concrete data—impelling students take at least a fifteen credit course load in a semester, for example—often seem counter-intuitive in that they fail to account for the individual or personal obstacles students face in going to school full time to attain their degree.   The following roundtable, therefore, invites scholars and administrators to share their best practices for student retention.  Special weight will be given to papers that look at how administration and academic departments and programs can make retention plans collaborative rather than seemingly punitive.  How can universities take a comprehensive and activist approach to university retention while being sensitive to the socio-economic barriers to education our students face outside the university? Please email abstracts of 500 words or less to by May 31st 2018.



"Buddhism and Literary Study" will consider a range of topics including but not limited to Buddhism and literary theory; the place of "the literary" in classic Buddhist texts; Buddhist influences on individual authors and literary movements; Buddhism and pedagogy; and Zen folklore, haiku, and other forms of literary expression. By May 25, please submit a 250-word abstract, brief bio, and AV requirements to Robert Azzarello, Southern University at New Orleans, at



This Regular Session welcomes submissions on any aspect of Comparative Literature. Proposals addressing the SAMLA 90 conference theme, Fighters from the Margins: Sociopolitical Activists and Their Allies, are especially welcome. By June 1, 2018, please submit an abstract of 250-350 words, a brief bio, and any A/V requests to the SAMLA email address,  Also, if you interested and willing to chair this panel, please include this information in your abstract.



This Regular Session welcomes submissions on any aspect of Disability. Proposals addressing the SAMLA 90 conference theme, Fighters from the Margins: Sociopolitical Activists and Their Allies, are especially welcome. By June 1, 2018, please submit an abstract of 250-350 words, a brief bio, and any A/V requests to the SAMLA email address,  Also, if you interested and willing to chair this panel, please include this information in your abstract.



Co-Chairs: Dr. Loretta Clayton, Middle Georgia State University and Dr. Marylaura Papalas, East Carolina University

It has been over twenty-five years since Valerie Steele published “The F Word” (1991) in Lingua Franca in which she argued that scholarly inquiry of fashion was nearly anathema in academe. Roughly a decade later, however, in the survey, Fashion (2003), Christopher Breward cited a wealth of academic study of fashion in various fields. The new millennium has brought a welcome rise of publication in this area showing that fashion, dress, design, and style are important means of expression—both at the individual and collective levels—and deserving of critical inquiry. In acknowledgement of the SAMLA 90 Conference theme, "Fighters from the Margins: Socio-Political Activists and Their Allies," this panel calls for papers that consider fashion as a means not only of personal expression, but also of social reform, activism, or as a manifestation of avant-garde ideology. The theme of revolution is particularly relevant for dress, which “links the biological body to the social being, and public to private” (Elizabeth Wilson, Adorned in Dreams, 1985), underscoring clothing’s relationship to political change. Papers on dress reform, anti-fashion, and various kinds of fashion (or fashionable) activism during the Victorian, Modern, or contemporary eras are welcome, as are papers that address avant-garde movements in fashion. We also encourage submissions that examine sartorial themes in literature, theater, art, film, photography, periodicals, design, digital media, and other aesthetic modes of expression. Questions that might be addressed include: When and why have fashion and dress been used in experimental ways and as a means to shape not only the body but also to speak to social issues and to shape the wider culture? How effective is fashionable activism? What are the movements and social formations showing meaningful connections between aesthetics and politics, particularly as related to dress? How have experimental, unconventional, and/or avant-garde movements and designs in dress and fashion been used to address political and societal concerns? Where does fashion intersect with local, national, or global conversations on change? By May 15, 2018, please send abstracts of 250-500 words along with AV requests and short bio to both Loretta Clayton, Middle Georgia State University, at and Marylaura Papalas, East Carolina University, at



This special session is an attempt to erase the cultural division between the center and the margin(s).  By hypothetically reversing the marginalized position, we engage the theme of the conference “Fighters from the Margins” from a perspective that refuses to fall into racial, religious, and gender “margins” dictated and imposed by the “Center,” and embraces the ideal of democracy and equality. We aim to pierce through the ascribed differences, dive into the core of our beings -- race and religion, and look them in the face. We fight for likely or unlikely coalitions and connections among African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Jewish-Americans, LGBTQ-Americans, and “mainstream”-Americans, among other groups. In such a fight, we cross color lines and find for ourselves an integral and symbiotic space where kaleidoscopic life forms are interlaced.  In this space, we stitch historic wounds and spin a 21st American narrative, through shared human conditions and experience of pain, humiliation, being counted in and out. This is a platform for us to continue to fulfill the promise that all human beings are born equal with the same unalienable rights in the American cultural narrative.

You are invited to join the roundtable with perspectives from your particular cultural context(s), and contribute to the work on how to convert margins into centers for connection and integration. Interested panelists should submit a 1-page description to Prof. Mimi Yang by May 15, 2018.



Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE)

ASLE (The Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment) seeks papers that deal with the conference theme, “Fighters from the Margins: Socio-Political Activists and their Allies,” from an environmental perspective. For example, we welcome papers that deal with literary portrayals of environmental activism, the marginalization of the environment, or the intersection of social justice and environmentalism. Send a 250-word abstract and your A/V needs by 15 May 2018 to Kelly C. Walter Carney,



Celebrating its fourth year at SAMLA, this regular session on flânerie will continue to explore the topic of urban walking in literature, art, and popular culture. As a concept that emerged in 19th century accounts of the modern European metropolis, flânerie is a practice rooted in the effort to better understand and improve the city experience. It is therefore unsurprising that many 19th and 20th century narratives highlighting flâneur and flâneuse characters treat themes of rebellion and activism. This panel seeks papers that examine how the act of city strolling emerges from a desire to change, resist, or alter canonical ways of being in, engaging with, and seeing the city in any period and any aesthetic tradition. We encourage contributions that study the relationship between flânerie and activism on all levels, be it civil, political, social, moral, or sexual. Possible questions to address are:

  • How is flânerie a sign of discontent, noncompliance, or rebellion?
  • How does flânerie emerge in narratives about marginal figures, and how does strolling become an act of defiance against social norms and mainstream culture?
  • What is the relationship between alternative forms of flânerie (running, cycling, locomotion, automobile) and the marginal?
  • What forms of art (literature, graphic, digital, media, dance, fashion) express flânerie as a means of transforming the world, on a global or local level?
  • When is flânerie an expression of protest, and when is it a routine practice of conformity?

 By May 30, 2018, please send abstracts of 250-500 words along with AV requests and short bio to Marylaura Papalas, East Carolina University, at



We seek scholarship highlighting the impact of folklore's methodological recognition and collection of materials from marginalized communities. We seek scholarship which disrupts traditional ethnocentric narratives through folklore. Together, we hope to explore the ways folklore's processes of collecting and preserving material culture can serve as an ally, with careful attention to the ethics and impacts of collecting and preserving marginalized stories. By May 30th 2018, please submit an abstract of 250 words, a brief bio, and any A/V requests to Jordan Laney, Virginia Tech at



This traditional session invites submissions on aspects of how participatory narratives, especially tabletop gaming, represent socio-political elements of culture.  It will interrogate how these narratives are indicative of culture, and what it means for participating individuals.  Proposals addressing the conference theme are especially welcome.  By May 1, 2018, please submit an abstract of 250 words, a brief bio, and any A/V requests to Dr. Eric Niemi, Chattanooga State Community College, at



In Understanding Comics, McCloud argues that the manipulation of the reader through closure, the "phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole," is what truly sets comics apart from other media. Through closure, says McCloud, the reader becomes "an equal partner in crime" with the comic artist. While McCloud's description and examples rely mostly on acts of malice, can we also see closure used as a force of good in comics? Can the comics creator use closure as a means of creating allies and turning readers into activists? This panel welcomes papers that explore how comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels have been used to explore issues of social justice, especially those that align with the conference theme. By May 1, 2018, please email a 250-word abstract, along with a brief biographical note and any audio/visual requirements, to Jason Todd at SAMLA 90 conference information can be found at



This panel invites papers on representations of the Holocaust in 20th and 21st-century texts or films. Topics might include but are not limited to examination of second and third generation Holocaust writers, use of the Holocaust as metaphor, children's and YA lit about the Holocaust, portrayal of survivors in Holocaust films, and resistance movements within camps or ghettos. Paper proposals addressing the SAMLA 90 theme, “Fighters from the Margins: Socio-Political Activists and Their Allies,” are especially welcome. By May 25, please submit an abstract of 200-300 words, a brief bio, and any A/V requirements to session co-chairs Luke Wilson, Florida Atlantic University, and Courtney Ferriter, Georgia Southern University,



Literary Darwinism, an emerging field of critical inquiry, has gained increasing stature during the last decade. It integrates literary concepts with an understanding of the adapted characteristics of human nature and is fundamentally aimed at expanding discussion of the social and cultural features of literature. Founded on the work of contemporary biologists and evolutionary psychologists, literary Darwinism creates new and exhilarating opportunities for literary exploration and is becoming a significant landmark in the contemporary intellectual landscape of interdisciplinary study.  This forum invites proposals for papers that consider literary works, periods, or authors through the lens of contemporary evolutionary theory and for papers that view literature as an extension of the adapted mind.  Please address all inquiries and proposals for the 2018 convention to with a cc to Deadline for submissions is June 8th, 2018.



This workshop welcomes submissions addressing alternative ways to think about knowledge production in the humanities. Participants will explore how racial and gendered positionalities expose the margins of traditional academic discourse and discuss the potential of community-based and collaborative research in the humanities. Proposals addressing the intersection of academic research and social-political activism, marginalised forms of knowledge production, and the politics of research are especially welcome. By April 8, 2018, please submit an abstract of 150-300 words, a brief bio, and any A/V to Elsa Charléty, Brown University and Edwige Crucifix at and



This Regular Session welcomes submissions on any aspect of Modern Drama. Proposals addressing the SAMLA 90 conference theme, Fighters from the Margins: Sociopolitical Activists and Their Allies, are especially welcome. By June 1, 2018, please submit an abstract of 250-350 words, a brief bio, and any A/V requests to the SAMLA email address,  Also, if you interested and willing to chair this panel, please include this information in your abstract.



This panel intends to examine the works of Muslim American poets, novelists, playwrights, jazz musicians, punks, hip hop artists, mipsters, filmmakers, and visual artists, through the lens of social and political activism. Papers are invited that explore the diverse compositions of Muslim American identities in literary and cultural texts as reflections of grassroots or macropolitical movements. With the theme of SAMLA 90, Fighters from the Margins: Socio-Political Activists and Their Allies, panelists are asked to consider how these writers and artists engage with activism in their articulation of assimilation, alterity, dissent, and transgression as Muslim Americans in high or low art forms. Please submit a 300-word abstract, with a short biography and A/V requirements, to Mahwash Shoaib ( by June 6.



Once considered a fringe movement, neoliberalism has steadily become a central tenet of American life. Neoliberal thought subsequently spread across the globe in a variety of forms (via channels including Hollywood and regulatory bodies such as the International Monetary Fund). Promises of privatization today trump collective action in virtually every aspect of life. This epistemic shift can be felt far and wide, from politicians to postmodern theorists. This panel will investigate symptoms of – and responses to – this shift in the areas of literature and media studies. Given this year’s conference theme, papers of particular interest might address questions such as the following: how has the New Economy marginalized certain groups? In what ways have activists resisted neoliberalism? How has the form and content of various cultural productions been informed by this invisibility/resistance? By June 1st, please send a 250-word abstract, brief bio, and A/V requirements to Michael Blouin, Milligan College, 



This panel invites proposals that focus on the conference’s theme “Fighters from the Margins: Socio-Political Activists and Their Allies.” Proposals should examine the ways in which popular music, literature of various genres (to include fiction, non-fiction and poetry), activism, and ally ship work together to create opportunities for increased socio-political activism in varying degrees. Diverse perspectives are highly encouraged. Please send 250 word abstracts, short bios, and any A/V requests by May 31, 2018 to Shahara’Tova Dente, Mississippi Valley State University, at



This Regular Session welcomes submissions on any aspect of Postcolonial Literature, Politics, and/or Culture. Proposals addressing the SAMLA 90 conference theme, Fighters from the Margins: Sociopolitical Activists and Their Allies, are especially welcome. By June 1, 2018, please submit an abstract of 250-350 words, a brief bio, and any A/V requests to the SAMLA email address,  Also, if you interested and willing to chair this panel, please include this information in your abstract.



Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing 

Papers are invited for the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP) affiliate session at the 2018 SAMLA Convention. Potential topics include print culture, history of the book, authorship, publishing history, ephemera, illustration, publishers’ archives, production, circulation, and reception. Papers addressing this year’s convention theme,“Fighters from the Margins: Social-Political Activists and Their Allies” are especially welcome. What connections can be made between print culture/book history and ideas of activism? How have books pushed the boundaries of technology, form, artistic expression, and subject matter? What are the connections between printing and social justice, activism and print culture? What is the role of print in effecting social change? How have printers, publishers, and authors been a force for change from Gutenberg to today? Proposers need not be members of SHARP to submit, but panelists must be members of both SAMLA and SHARP to present. By June 1, 2018, please send a 250-word abstract and short biography (together in one document) to SHARP liaison Melissa Makala, Clemson University, at



This panel invites proposals that focus on the conference’s theme: particularly of interest are papers that explore literature of various genres (to include fiction, non-fiction and poetry) that focus on the rhetoric and ideologies of war experiences, the margins that are created, and the transitions that occur. A diverse perspective is highly encouraged. Please send 250 word abstracts and short bios by May 10th to Sarah Carter, Georgia State University at



Recent activist work in the field of children's and young adult literature has focused on the lack of diverse protagonists and created a variety of initiatives to change that fact, including the #weneeddiversebooks campaign. The desire to improve diverse representations in children’s and young adult literature aligns with recent research into how an individual comes to understand that others have complex inner lives that may differ from our own, often studied in psychology as Theory of the Mind (ToM). Recent studies of ToM and fiction show literature’s power, as an art form, to increase readers’ empathy and engagement with others. Both minority readers and privileged populations, therefore, need diverse books. This panel at SAMLA 90, dedicated to “Fighters from the Margins,” asks for essays that investigate the power of diverse books, in order to continue the work of #weneeddiversebooks. Some possible avenues of investigation are:

  • Intersections of #weneeddiversebooks and #blacklivesmatter
  • Forgotten or undertheorized books with diverse protagonists
  • Power of visual communication to represent diversity in picture books or comics
  • Diversity represented outside the confines of historical tragedy (Holocaust, Japanese internment, slavery, Jim Crow, Native American genocide, etc.)
  • Intersectional analyses that explore gender, sexuality, ability in addition to racial diversity

Proposals of 250 words and a short biography are due May 31st. Please e-mail questions or proposals to



Speculative fiction covers a broad range of narrative styles and genres.  The cohesive element that pulls works together under the category is that there is some “unrealistic” element, whether it’s magical, supernatural, or a futuristic/technological development: works that fall into the category stray from conventional realism in some way.   For this reason, speculative fiction can be quite broad, including everything from fantasy and magical realism to horror and science fiction—from Gabriel García Márquez to China Miéville to Octavia Butler.  This panel aims to explore those unrealistic elements and all their varied implications about society, politics, economics, and more.  Please submit a 250-300 word abstract, a brief bio, and any A/V needs by May 20, 2018 to Lisa Wenger Bro, Middle Georgia State University, at



What does it mean to be an activist? How can one affect meaningful and positive change? For politicians and other public servants, speeches, legislation, and campaign promises are the standard practices. For political activists, marches, protests, and public engagement (?) are effective tools (?). But, what of writers, film directors, producers, actors? Can their writing, films, and roles be subtle (or not so subtle) vessels for promoting and affecting societal change? This session welcomes presentations that illustrate how fiction, film, and/or filmic adaptions of fiction that reveal how the arts can subtly introduce and expose injustice and offer the solutions. By May 8, please submit a 200-350 word abstract, a brief bio, and any A/V requests to Sean Dugan, Mercy College, at



The photo essay, a collection of pictures on a single theme, mixed with texts to drive a narrative of information became a new format for communication in the 20th century. Photography was the new art form of the 19th century that became a concrete way people saw themselves and saw others. The 20th century was about the photo essay, a new way to tell a story. This panel examines the tension between photography as an art, photojournalism and the use of photographs to advocate for social change. This panel invites abstracts that examine photographic communication at the intersections of media history, cultural history on race, class and gender, rhetoric, visual culture and narrative. Socio-political activists and their allies want to go beyond mere information to make a point with emotion. Photojournalist Steve McCurry known for his photo of “The Afghan Girl” on the cover of National Geographic Magazine (1985) is one example of a mass-produced magazine (National Geographic) and the photo journalist who had something to say about an Afghan girl and Afghan refugees located in a refugee camp deserving of compassion from the West. This panel seeks to engage questions of race, class and gender in photographic communication and social reform including: How might we re-conceptualize social and political activism and the role of the photo essay in mainstream media? This call invites abstracts of approximately 250 words. Email as Word attachment to (Karen Ching Carter) by May 25, 2018.



Too often, especially in the United States today, religion is seen as the enemy of socio-political progress and change. But even a cursory glance at U.S. history — the Underground Railroad, the Civil Rights Movement, the Sanctuary Movement — attests to the role religion and religious individuals have played in resistance movements. This panel seeks papers that consider the influence of religion on political activism and protest movements — and not only in America, but globally. Paper proposals might address (but are not limited to) the following topics: the intersection of religion and political ideologies and movements; the influence of religion on the political Left, or vice versa; church-sponsored protest movements; or the implications of the “postsecular turn” on religion and politics. Any treatment of religion, activism, and protest will be considered. By May 31,please send a 250-word proposal, a brief CV, and any A/V requests to Josh Privett, Georgia State University,, for SAMLA 90, November 2-4, 2018, in Birmingham, Alabama.



This panel examines the role of avant-garde women in confronting models of gender, domesticity and political practices safeguarded by patriarchal society. From the margins of vanguardism, women effectively engaged in syndicalist and anarchist movements that reacted to state politics, while urging the importance of launching social reforms and radical art. This panel will thus provide an overview of artists who participated in a variety of experimental trends such as Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, Imagism, Vorticism, Dadaism and Surrealism, among others. Women avant-gardists became prominent figures in changing the direction of art schools, as Amy Lowell’s heated confrontation with Ezra Pound shows on the grounds of the necessity to invest Imagism with a more democratic perspective. Occupying the position of art patrons and editors in leading journals, Gertrude Stein and Dora Marsden, for instance, also gave voice to feminist activism and avant-garde artistic practices. Likewise, several Dadaist and Surrealist women struggled to assert their subjectivity by rising up against those male clichés that conceived them as objects of desire. Based on the ideas of femininity and political dissent, topics might include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Print culture as a method of vindicating women’s rights and aesthetics.
  • The capacity of feminist artists to rethink the public and private sphere against masculine views.
  • The figure of the woman art patron and her effort to promote vanguardism and social progress.
  • Gynocentrism and body politic in modern art, literature and criticism.
  • The muse versus the male artist.
  • Alternatives to the male gaze in experimental cinema and photography.
  • Men representing women vs. women self-representing.
  • The construction of the feminine subject in avant-garde literary and visual genres.
  • Fashion, the modern woman and the commodification of the feminine body.
  • Rethinking prostitution in the avant-garde.
  • Gender performativity and androgyny in women’s creative works.

By June 4th, 2018, please submit a 300-word abstract in English or Spanish along with a brief bio and A/V requirements to Leticia Pérez Alonso (, Jackson State University.