Calls for Papers

Barry Mauer and John Venecek


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Calls for Papers

A “call for papers” (or CFP) is a request from a professional journal, conference, or other forum asking scholars to submit research, usually about a particular theme or subject. The CFP from a particular journal or other entity may pose a research question or series of questions that scholars should address in their work. Along with the theme and research question, the CFP usually stipulates the length of the project (typically in word count or length of presentation), and other guidelines such as style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).

As a scholar in literary studies, you can respond to a CFP, meaning you aim to get your research published in a literary studies journal. Addressing your paper to a CFP goes a long way to helping you solve the problems of audience (you are writing to the audience that reads the literary studies journal), of purpose (you are addressing the purpose put forth by the CFP), and form (the CFP will specify things like length, style, etc.).

Most CFPs in literary studies ask for proposals or abstract submissions before consideration of complete papers. An abstract is a brief overview of the work. A typical request is for an abstract of 300-500 words. If the abstract is approved, you will receive an invitation requesting a completed work by a particular deadline.

Beginning and intermediate scholars who wish to continue in the field should familiarize themselves with a variety of CFPs. Doing so allows you to see what topics are currently being discussed, what kinds of guidelines researchers must follow for their work to be published, and what journals and professional platforms are available.

Below are some sites that host CFPs.

The people creating CFPs want to host a discussion, either in a live forum or in media such as print. They are inviting scholars – like you – to join that discussion. Note that conferences commonly charge registration fees for presenters (some costing hundreds of dollars), and some scholarly journals – particularly Open Access ones (open Access means they do not charge their readers) – require steep fees to publish. Such fees cover costs associated with hosting and publishing. Discounts are often available for students, and many educational institutions will subsidize student authors and presenters. If you want to present or publish your research but costs seem prohibitive, ask your institution if financial help is available. Many institutions are proud to support the work of their students researchers and they get to bask in the glow of your reflected glory.

Let’s look at a sample CFP.


Special Issue of Steinbeck Review: Steinbeck, Race, and Ethnicity 

This CFP is for a special issue and asks for research that addresses themes of race and ethnicity in relation to Steinbeck. Not all CFPs are for special issues and some do not specify themes, which means they are open to a greater variety of proposals. If you were to submit a proposal in response to this CFP, you would need to highlight the ways in which your research addresses the themes.

Categories: American, Interdisciplinary, Popular Culture, African-American, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Transcendentalists, 1865-1914, 20th & 21st Century, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy

“Categories” refers to the places on a CFP webpage in which the CFP is being listed. Not all the categories listed above, such as Classical Studies, fit the theme since Steinbeck was a 20th century American author.

Event Date: 2024-09-01 Abstract Due: 2024-04-01

Here “event date” means complete drafts are due by September 1, 2024. “Abstract due” means you first submit an abstract (a brief description of the proposed study) by April 1, 2024. You must get approval for your abstract before submitting a complete draft.

Call for Papers: Steinbeck, Race, and Ethnicity

A Special Issue of Steinbeck Review

Like many American authors who rose to prominence in the first half of the twentieth century, John Steinbeck came from an economically privileged Protestant family of European descent and grew up in a socially and religiously conservative environment.  Like many of his contemporaries, he distanced himself from his upbringing in his fiction, rejecting the authority of government, of institutions, and of received cultural wisdom.  He sided with the poor and dispossessed, he stood with the underdog, and he tried to give the downtrodden a voice through his fiction.  His writing indicates that he aligned himself with the ideology of mid-century liberalism and considered himself liberal, progressive, and open minded.

Much of his work, however, now appears problematic to contemporary scholars, particularly those concerned with representation and social justice.   How could a writer who wrote two novels about strikes in the California agricultural industry not mention migrant workers of Latinx and Asian diasporic backgrounds? Although Steinbeck clearly intended them to be positive characters, Lee Chong in Cannery Row and Lee in East of Eden reflect stereotypical thinking about Chinese and Chinese-American people.  Few African-American characters are mentioned in Steinbeck’s fiction, and the few who are, such as Crooks in Of Mice and Men, reflect simplistic and paternalistic perceptions about race.

Questions such as these (and many others) need to be more fully explored in John Steinbeck’s works.  And some of these queries may best be explored by scholars from underrepresented backgrounds whose perspectives have  not often been seen   in Steinbeck circles, but whose voices could open new vistas for  important, rich new discussions of his work.

The editorial staff at Steinbeck Review invites submissions on the topic of “Steinbeck, Race, and Ethnicity.”  Discussions of any Steinbeck work or works are welcome.  Of particular interest are discussions such as

  • Asian American and Trans-Pacific Studies perspectives on Steinbeck
  • Latinx Studies and Borderlands Studies Perspectives on Steinbeck
  • African-American Studies perspectives on Steinbeck
  • Native/Indigenous Studies perspectives (including decolonial, postcolonial, and settler colonial approaches)
  • Comparative Ethnic Studies approaches (including placing Steinbeck’s work in conversation with other writers and texts)
  • Global and Transnational perspectives (including non-US ethnicities)

All critical and theoretical perspectives are welcomed.  Submissions should be from twelve to twenty double-spaced pages in length, should reflect an awareness of Steinbeck scholarship, and should follow current MLA style as reflected in the 9th MLA Handbook.

Here the editors present the research “problems” they want researchers to address in their special issue. They break down the major theme into a list of sub-themes. In chapter four of this book, we discuss a variety of theoretical and critical approaches that will help you to address notes such as “All critical and theoretical perspectives are welcomed.” You would choose one or more approaches such as formalist, psychoanalytic, cultural studies, feminist, queer, etc.


  • 500-word proposal submitted to editors (see below):   April 1, 2024

o   Prospective contributors should prepare manuscripts in MLA with all identifying references to the author(s) deleted. Submissions should include a cover page, giving the name, address, and institutional affiliation of the author(s) as well as a short bio not to exceed 300 words.

MLA stands for Modern Language Association and also refers to the MLA’s style guidelines. We discuss style guidelines in chapter 12 of this book. The “short bio” refers to your academic and scholarly history. If you are a student, you would include your academic institution, your major, your year of study (freshman to senior), and any previous scholarly work you’ve showcased such as published papers, awards, and conference presentations. Whether you have any of these things or not in your record, you can also state your research interests and how long you have been pursuing them. You can include one line at the end referring to your home and family life – where you live, who you live with, pets, and hobbies.

  • Decision deadline and invitation to submit full manuscript :  May 1, 2024
  • Full version:  September 1, 2024, to be submitted to the Steinbeck Review online submission and review system at  Papers have the possibility for publication in a special issue in the Spring 2025 issue of Steinbeck Review.  See note below for the journal’s international recognition.

“Papers have the possibility for publication in a special issue in the Spring 2025 issue of Steinbeck Review.” Even if the editors approve of your abstract submission, they might still reject your manuscript (completed work).

Also, submit manuscripts in digital format to both

If you have questions or concerns about the journal or the CFP, it is acceptable for you to reach out to the editors and ask for help. Make sure all your communication with editors adheres to standards of courtesy and professionalism.

Submissions should be accompanied by an abstract and key words.

We discuss how to write an abstract in chapter 10 of this book. “Key words” refers to the kinds of terms that other researchers might use to search for and find your work. For instance, if you are discussing a particular work by Steinbeck, such as East of Eden, you would include that title in your key words. If you are discussing his work from an African-American Studies perspective, you would include “African-American Studies” as one of your key words.



Indexed by the international database SCOPUS and the European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences,  Steinbeck Review is a peer-reviewed publication on the life and works of American novelist John Steinbeck.  With other Penn State University Press journals, it partners with Duke University Press as part of the Scholarly Publishing Collective.

The note above means that the journal is recognized by credible academic databases, that its work is accessible to other researchers through those databases, and that the scholarship that appears in their journal is peer-reviewed. To have your work peer-reviewed is to have it assessed by other experts in the field of study. The typical peer-review is :double blind,” meaning that the reviewers don’t know the name of the author whose work they are reviewing, and the author does not know the name of the reviewers. Double blind peer review helps to remove possible favoritism that might be shown to people based on their prior relationships or reputations. Peer reviewers are chosen by editors and may report three types of recommendations to editors:

  1. Accept
  2. Accept with revisions
  3. Reject

It is quite common for revisions to be requested. Usually the peer reviewers and editor will be quite specific in their requests for revisions. They may ask for additional research to be done, for changes in the structure of the essay, or for stylistic changes.

Your instructor may ask you to aim your course project towards a particular CFP, even if you don’t decide to submit your work. Doing so is a great way to learn professionalization skills as you develop your research skills. If your instructor does not ask you to aim your work for publication, it is still a good idea for you to aim for one as a potential target. Many published research papers begin as class projects.

The value of a professional publication for a student’s career is immense. It shows you have the skills to make it in this highly competitive world. Also, don’t be afraid of rejection. It happens to all scholars. You can practice being rejected by submitting your work to the Journal of Universal Rejection (see below).

The process for publishing in a journal varies, but typically involves several stages. You might begin with an informal inquiry, asking the editor if the journal is open to your idea for a project. If so, you may be asked to submit a formal proposal or a full manuscript. The editor will then review the submission and reply with a provisional acceptance, a request for revisions, or a rejection. Upon complete submission, the work will go to reviewers (typically two or three readers) who will write reports about your work and recommend one of the following: publication, revision, or rejection. Reader reports provide valuable feedback to scholars. Keep in mind that rejection does not necessarily mean that the work is bad; it could mean that it is not a good fit for the journal and its mission. Sometimes, finding the right fit requires several attempts. One rule: do not make simultaneous submissions to multiple journals. If more than one journal accepts your work then you are wasting the precious time of a poor overworked editor.

Calls for Papers [Refresher]

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