John Dos Passos Society Call for Papers: 2017 ALA

The John Dos Passos Society invites proposals for two sessions scheduled at the American Literature Association’s 28th annual conference, which will meet at the Westin Copley Place in Boston on May 25-28, 2017 (Thursday through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend). The deadline for proposals is January 20, 2017. For further information, please consult the ALA website at For questions regarding the sessions, contact For questions regarding the conference, contact the conference director, Professor Olivia Carr Edenfield at

Session 1: Dos Passos Today: Roundtable

In a 1968 interview, John Dos Passos commented on what he saw as the growing marginalization of his work by recalling a conservation he once had with Ernest Hemingway. “He always used to bawl me out for including so much topical stuff,” Dos Passos remembered. “He always claimed that was a great mistake, that in fifty years nobody would understand. He may have been right; it’s getting to be true.”

Fifty-odd years later, this roundtable session seeks to examine the validity of Hemingway’s prediction by asking the question of where Dos Passos is today. Where can his influence be found among contemporary writers, both in fiction and non-fiction? What is his present status in the undergraduate classroom? What can be gained from reading Dos Passos in the current social, political, and economic climate?

We invite short presentations on any aspect of Dos Passos’s current standing, influence, and/or relevance. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:


– Dos Passos’s influence today, in literature as well as across the arts, such as film or drama


– Recent experiences of teaching Dos Passos


– Reading Dos Passos…


– in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis

– in the context of increasingly polarized domestic politics

– in the age of social media and the 24-hour news cycle


The session will take the format of a roundtable discussion, where each participant will be given five to seven minutes for their dostinex to buy individual presentations, after which there will be ample time for a longer discussion.

For full consideration, please submit a 200-word abstract and a brief bio or CV in Word or PDF format to no later than January 20, 2017. Please note any A/V requirements.

Session 2: Dos Passos and New England Panel

Although John Dos Passos’s life and lodgings were varied across the U.S. and abroad, and Dos Passos himself characterized his youth as a “hotel childhood,” some of his most impressionable and creative years were spent in the Northeast, especially New England. At age 11, Dos Passos entered Choate Boarding School (Wallingford, CT) for four-and-a-half years, followed by four years at Harvard. From the late 1920s through the late 1940s, he lived with his wife Katy in Provincetown, MA. Then, of course, were the frequent trips throughout the northeast, whether to Boston—during the tumultuous Sacco and Vanzetti case, for instance—to Maine, or up and down the Cape. The panel seeks a robust discussion of John Dos Passos and New England, which may include, but is not limited to, any of the following:

–  Early years and influences at Choate

–  Harvard, including work on the Harvard Monthly; friendships with E.E. Cummings, Gilbert Seldes, Robert Hillyer, Stewart Mitchell, Dudley Poore, or other Cambridge professors or alums; or essays or stories written against a Boston-Cambridge backdrop, such as Streets of Night.

-The case of Sacco and Vanzetti

-Dos Passos within the literary tradition of 19th-century New England writers, such as Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Longfellow or Fuller.

–      Other writers (such as Melville or Whitman) or topics generally associated with the greater “northeast” could also be of interest.

The session will take the format of panel presentations running 15-20 minutes. For full consideration, please submit a 300-500 word abstract and a brief bio or CV in Word or PDF format to by January 20, 2017. Please note any A/V requirements.