Call for Papers

ALA 2022

Please come join us at the 2022 American Literature Association Conference in Chicago, May 26-29, where the Kurt Vonnegut Society will hold two academic sessions and host a business meeting.  See our call for papers below.

If you’re interested in presenting at one of the panels, please send a 250 word abstract and a brief CV to the Kurt Vonnegut Society at by January 28, 2022.

Call for Papers

Panel 1:  Vonnegut on Film

Robert Weide’s documentary Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time was released in theaters on November 19, 2021, following a Kickstarter campaign and much anticipation from Vonnegut fans and scholars alike. Weide’s work is the first full-length documentary film addressing the author’s life and works. This session invites responses to the documentary and to the topic “Vonnegut on Film” more broadly.

Papers could respond to the documentary itself: How does the Weide documentary aligns with or challenges other biographical depictions of the writer, including those presented in books by Charles Shields, Gregory Sumner, Ginger Strand, or others? How does Weide’s Vonnegut fit with popular perceptions of Vonnegut, as expressed through social media, memes, popular magazines, television mentions or appearances, tributes, etc.?

Papers might also address larger issues concerning Vonnegut and film: adaptations of Vonnegut’s work (Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions, Happy Birthday Wanda June, Mother Night, 2031, Harrison Bergeron, Slapstick of Another Kind), discussions of Vonnegut’s presence in film and other video recordings (Back to School, The Shape of Stories lecture, commencement speeches, and televised interviews), or analyses of Vonnegut’s own use of film as a device (the backwards film in Slaughterhouse-Five, for instance,  or the blue movies in Kilgore Trout novels).

Panel 2: Open Topic

We also invite proposals on any other aspect of Vonnegut’s life or work.

NeMLA Convention, 2022

This panel session will be part of the Northeast Modern Language Association convention in Baltimore, MD, from March 10-13, 2022. All submissions must go through NeMLA’s submission portal: Submit an Abstract (

In Giving an Account of Oneself, this year’s keynote speaker, Judith Butler, argues that our understanding of ourselves is fundamentally reliant upon others and our interactions with them. We are acted upon by others and in turn act upon them, regardless of our will. Throughout the text, she maintains that a person can only see themselves subjectively (as an “I”) in relation to others (a “you”), and that this primary interdependence elicits an ethical demand.

Kurt Vonnegut is not one for high theory, necessarily, but he declares himself a humanist throughout his oeuvre. In A Man Without a Country, Vonnegut describes humanists as those who “try to behave as decently, as fairly, and as honorably as we can without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife.” “We humanists,” he continues, “serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any real familiarity, which is our community.”

This panel asks presenters to consider the ways that Vonnegut’s work, both in print and in public appearances, speaks to the convention theme of “care”–“the practice of interdependency, admitting our vulnerabilities as humans, animals, and other living organisms of the anthropocene”–and the ethical demand Butler suggests is constitutive of our relationships to others. We are open to broad and varying interpretations of this prompt, but talks might address:

  • Vonnegut’s multiple attempts to give an account of himself via metafictional techniques
  • Vonnegut’s attempt to navigate mental anguish through various imagined communities (e.g. Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions, Bluebeard)
  • Issues of nationhood, globalization, and other granfalloonery in Vonnegut’s work
  • Friendship, friendliness, and clambakes (Sirens of Titan, Breakfast of Champions, Timequake)
  • What Vonnegut calls ethical birth control (pills) and/or ethical suicide (parlor/service/studio)
  • Vonnegut’s conception of extended family
  • Vonnegut’s treatment of human influence on the planet and other living organisms inhabiting it
  • Unwavering bands of light and telepathic butterflies
  • Bokononism, wampeters, and karasses
  • Tralfamadorians and the Universal Will to Become
  • Vonnegut’s antiwar philosophy as it appears in any text or public appearance

Please submit 250- to 300-word abstracts for 15 minute presentations through NeMLA’s submission portal here: Submit an Abstract (



The Kurt Vonnegut Society will sponsor the following academic panel at the NeMLA convention in Philadelphia, PA,  on March 11-14, 2021.  Please join us if you can!

Panel Title: “Kurt Vonnegut Changing the World—and In a Changing World”

Chair: Tom Hertweck

  1. “’Open Season on Reindeer’: Vonnegut’s Satire of White Supremacy and Post-Civil Rights Racism,” Nicole Lowman
  2. “God Bless You, Pearls Before Swine,” Jody Spedaliere
  3. “Vonnegut’s Pacificism and Secular Humanism: St. Kurt’s Unwavering Band of Light,” Christina Jarvis 
  4. “Otherness and the Consequences of Mimicry in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle,” Jason Smith


Chair: Tom Hertweck