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AIZEN/University of Alabama International Conference

March 3, 2022 - March 5, 2022

Call for Papers

For the 30th Anniversary AIZEN International Literature, Film, and Interdisciplinary Studies Conference in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 2022

AIZEN/University of Alabama International Conference: “Émile Zola, Naturalism, and Protest”

Émile Zola, lifelong champion of minorities, workers, and the poor, wrote muckraking novels which sought to further the cause of social equality and to effect real change. In 1898, he risked imprisonment with the publication of J’accuse…!, a letter to the French President and clarion call for justice, the title of which has become synonymous with publicly-expressed outrage and the moral indictment of the powerful. Later, he wrote utopian novels that imagined and advocated for a more egalitarian world.

Half a century after his death, the state of Alabama gained international attention as the cradle of the American civil rights movement (1955-1965). The cities of Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma saw Freedom Riders, voter registration campaigns, boycotts, sit-ins, marches, and other protests that changed society forever, marking the emergence of humanitarian heroes like Rosa Parks, John Lewis, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were two progressive reforms brought about by these figures and events. In keeping with these themes, the AIZEN’s 30th Anniversary Conference will be held at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and will celebrate naturalism’s commitment to equity, social justice, civil rights, and progress.

The AIZEN® (Association Internationale Zola et Naturalisme) and The University of Alabama (USA) solicit submissions for the jointly-sponsored conference “Émile Zola, Naturalism, and Protest” to be hosted by

Department of Modern Languages, College of Arts and Sciences,
The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA March 3-5, 2022

We invite proposals for original papers, panels of three or four, and special sessions. Comparative and interdisciplinary approaches are welcome. Professors, scholars, instructors, and doctoral candidates from the disciplines of literature, film, visual arts, history, sociology and women’s studies are encouraged to submit proposals for twenty-minute presentations. Audiovisual equipment will be available in the conference rooms.

The following are suggested topics or panel headings:

  • Zola, discrimination, workers’ rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and civil rights
  • Zola, racism, and anti-Semitism
  • Zola and the Medan Group as protesters
  • Le Roman expérimental in Europe and America: varieties of dissent
  • J’accuse…! in America: Context and Response
  • Zola and Naturalist Theater
  • La République en marche: utopian protest and reform in France and the U.S.
  • Forms of protest, combat, and rebellion in naturalism: strikes, riots, marches, orations
  • Utopian communities and Utopian thought as social dissent and social reform
  • Les Quatre Évangiles and the march toward progress
  • Women and protest in naturalism
  • Inspirational leaders, heroes, and villains in naturalism
  • Incarceration, oppression, suppression in naturalist literature, film, and/or art
  • Queering naturalism: outcasts and inverts
  • Natures and Naturalisms (French, Francophone, Filmic)
  • Naturalist aspects of contemporary American and world cinema (Andrea Arnold, Ken Loach, John Schlesinger, Spike Lee, Michael Moore, etc.)
  • Zola and the Ashcan School of Painting (John Sloan, Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Luks, etc.)
  • Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Creole Literature (Alfred Mercier, Sidonie de la Houssaye, Georges Dessommes, George Washington Cable, etc.)
  • Female Naturalist Writers in the US—North and South (Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, Kate Chopin, etc.)
  • Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, and Zola
  • Naturalism in Africa and the Caribbean

Abstracts may be submitted either in English or French. Please e-mail your proposals for panels and/or papers with a brief resume to:

Prof. Juliana Starr, Dept. of Foreign Languages, University of New Orleans, USA jstarr1@uno.edu
Prof. Carmen Mayer, Dept. of Modern Languages, University of Alabama, USA ckmayer@ua.edu

Deadline for proposals: September 30, 2021

Registration and more information can be found on the AIZEN organization’s website.


March 3, 2022
March 5, 2022
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