LIST REVIEW: Calls for Papers in English & American Literature (CFP)

Reviewed by James A. Inman

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are taken from the CFP Information Guide.

Intended Audience

Discussion should be "relevant to students of English and American Literature." CFP, though, does not restrict calls for papers only to literature-based conferences and publications, instead including related disciplines such as "cultural studies, queer theory, bibliography, humanities computing, and comparative literature (even when not concerned specifically with English or American literature)."

List Membership

Currently, the subscriber population numbers more than 1700. With the intent of the list being to distribute calls for papers, it may be said that all of the subscribers are lurkers. Activity lessens during academic holidays, especially mid to late summer and Christmas break.

As indicated by the "edu" notation in most e-mail addresses, almost all of the subscribers are affiliated with an academic institution or, at the very least, affiliated with academia. As indicated by the calls for papers, the members represent a number of largely humanities-based disciplines, including literature, composition, professional writing, and journalism, and a number of humanities-related areas, like cultural studies and computing.

A variety of academic institutions are represented, from Ivy League institutions, such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, to state universities, like the University of Kentucky, the University of California, the University of Michigan, and the University of Iowa. Naturally, as the home of the list, the University of Pennsylvania is well-represented, with more than 20 subscribers.

A number of non-U.S., but few non-American, scholars and students subscribe, as indicated by their e-mail addresses. This fact may most easily be explained by the fact that most of the conferences announced through CFP are in America, making proposals less feasible for non-American interested parties. McGill Universityand the University of Toronto, both of Canada, are two notable institutions with members.


As the purpose of the list is to distribute conference information, rather than facilitate discussion about issues, it may be easy to assume that tone is not an issue; however, such an assumption would be erroneous. The listowners create a courteous environment which enables subscribers to handle the frequency of posts.

In advocating courtesy, the listowners do several important things. The first is creating a standard form for subject lines of calls for papers. Submitters must use the following: "CFP: Topic of Conference (deadline; conference date)," helping subscribers to locate quickly any calls of interest. A second action of the listowners is an explicit emphasis on courtesy. In April 1996, when a couple of advertisements were bounced to subscribers, Jack Lynch immediately took over as moderator to be sure that all messages from CFP were calls for papers, not anything extraneous. Consider that there is even a section in the CFP guide which is titled "Etiquette."

A Week in the Life

For the week of July 13-July 20, 1996, nine calls for papers were sent. Of these, three were for the annual conference of NEMLA, the North East Modern Language Association. Topics ranged from literature-based, like Early American literature, Hemingway, the Brontes and Letitia Landon, to bibliographical, like the Dictionary of Literary Biography and the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature. Perhaps the most non-traditional, fun call for papers was one which requested articles for an upcoming collection focusing on the "Dennis Rodman Phenomenon."

During the academic year, messages are more frequent at times, but never overbearing. During February 1996, one of the most active months of the year, for example, approximately 110 calls for papers were bounced to subscribers, amounting to an average of three or four per day. In April 1996, 57 messages were sent to subscribers, and in June 1996, 49 calls were submitted for review.


If you are interested in scholarly activities, from conference presentations to publishing, CFP may very well be for you. Certainly, those interested in literature will find value in the many, frequent literature-related calls which appear. Similarly, in the calls for papers posted, a number of non-literary, humanities-related disciplines, everything from popular culture studies to computing, are routinely presented.

Perhaps the most attractive aspect of CFP is its ease of use. Subscribers need look no further than the strictly-formulated message subject lines to determine whether or not the calls will be of interest. Even during the busiest times of the year, CFP is manageable because of its narrow purpose, meaning that In boxes will not be cluttered with endless, senseless messages and will instead be filled with informative, relevant calls.

CFP is a sound option for locating calls for papers for a number of English-related venues, from small, local conferences to national and international symposia. Highly informative and well-maintained, it is an invaluable resource for the academic writer.

Membership Information

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