Deadline for submissions: September 30, 2018
Full name / name of organization: NeMLA, Northeast Modern Language Association
Contact email:

Kurt Vonnegut’s Artistic Horology: The Problem of Time in Troubled Times

This panel for the 2019 Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA), to be held in Washington, DC, from March 21-24, 2019, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of NeMLA, will focus on Kurt Vonnegut’s complex treatment of time in his work.

Throughout his career, Kurt Vonnegut’s unusual examination of time animated complex plot lines, added depth and layering to his characterization, fueled biting social commentary, and posed challenging philosophical questions on matters related to mortality, morality, and the purpose of life. Vonnegut’s fiction and non-fiction addresses the problem of time in troubled times. In this sense, Vonnegut’s art can be viewed as a form of artistic “horology.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines horology as “the study and measurement of time,” a concern integral to Vonnegut’s vision.

Across his fourteen novels, from his dystopian debut Player Piano (1952) to the so-called “stew” of his final novel Timequake (1997), time alterations and unusual chronologies are central. Vonnegut’s short stories and non-fiction works display a similar obsession with time. For instance, Vonnegut begins his last work of non-fiction published in his lifetime, the essay collection A Man Without a Country (2005), with a statement about how his own sense of humor was defined by coming of age in times of trouble: “I grew up at a time when comedy in this country was superb—it was the Great Depression.”

This panel seeks papers related to Vonnegut’s treatment of time in his fiction and non-fiction. Paper proposals may address this theme directly or tangentially. All approaches are welcome.

Paper proposals (250-300 words) must be posted through NeMLA’s online system by September 30, 2018, at

The panel description and link to submit an abstract for this panel are available at

Decision emails will be sent out after the submission deadline, no later than October 15, 2018.  NeMLA requires that accepted panelists pay their membership/registration fees by December 1, 2018, in order to present at the 2019 convention.  Please send any questions about this specific panel to Jeffrey Hotz at