In 1996 the AATSEEL Executive Council and Program Committee expanded the system of anonymous peer review of abstracts for the annual meeting to all divisions. In 2002 the Program Committee revised the guidelines for preparing abstracts; the revised guidelines are presented below. Part I explains obligatory formatting guidelines and word limits for all abstracts. Part II provides further information for abstract authors, especially those for whom the proposal of a paper to AATSEEL may be the first experience with peer review of abstracts. The guidelines in Part II should be considered suggestions, not rules.
Any AATSEEL member may submit a paper proposal to the conference. A complete paper proposal consists of:
The Program Committee will return abstracts that exceed the word limits or contain footnotes to authors for resubmission. Resubmitted abstracts must be received by the deadline (15 April or 1 August ) if they are to be reviewed in that round.
All accepted abstracts included in the conference will be published in the program book and on the AATSEEL web site.
The goal of the review process is not to adjudicate a competition for a limited number of slots, but, rather, to ensure that all papers presented meet minimum professional standards and reflect careful preparation in advance. The peer review is intended to be as objective and inclusive as possible. Division heads, who are responsible for review procedures, will try to achieve the widest possible representation of the membership with respect to disciplinary subdivision, school of thought or type of approach, seniority, geography, and type of institution or affiliation. The review process will be applied uniformly to all prospective conference participants.
An abstract should briefly present a hypothesis and outline the author’s plan for defending that hypothesis. An ideal abstract, like a good paper, should identify a problem (linguistic, pedagogical, literary, historical, or cultural) that needs solving or present a hypothesis that sheds light on the interpretation of a text or body of texts. (A text need not be strictly “literary” and could be, for example, a work in film, television, painting, music, or other arts and media.) A paper may identify a new problem and propose a solution, or may identify a complete or partial solution to an existing problem. Alternatively, a paper might indicate that a generally held view has unrecognized shortcomings, without necessarily proposing a comprehensive analysis to replace the received wisdom. Some papers, especially in pedagogy, may provide critical descriptions and analyses of existing, innovative, or proposed methods and materials used in teaching language, literature, or culture. Papers in literature may propose a new analysis of a text, offer a new application of an established critical theory or theories of textual analysis or interpretation, or present a new theory of textual interpretation. Papers in culture may include analyses of texts in a variety of “high” and popular arts and media or broader historical, societal, or cultural studies. Abstracts on interdisciplinary topics are welcome. If your proposed paper makes use of a particular methodology or theoretical framework, it is important to state this clearly; a reference as brief as “relying on approach X,” “applying the principles of Y,” “analyzing the problem within a Z framework,” or “I am approaching the problem from the point of view of A and B’s theory of Q” is sufficient.
Naturally, the further your work has progressed, the better your abstract is likely to be. Ideally, you will summarize work that is already completed, but this is not required, or even expected. More likely, you will have the outline of your analysis in mind, but will not have worked out all the details; this is also legitimate. However, if you have merely identified a problem you would like to examine when you get a chance, on which you have not yet conducted any research, it will be difficult to represent it convincingly. The Program Committee will be given the authority to reject largely hypothetical papers.