Special Issue of Modern Fiction Studies: Fictions of the Pandemic

Due Date: 07-01-2024

Modern Fiction Studies (MFS) invites contributors to consider and problematize the role of literary scholarship in apprehending, producing, and critiquing fictions of the pandemic. Fictions of the Pandemic pursues the imaginative structures, disputed narratives, cross-pollinating conspiracies, and contested discourses emergent from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the recognition of the novel coronavirus in late 2019, various interconnected fictions of the pandemic have circulated in the public sphere. These fictions have been countered by the realities of entrenched racial and class disparities and of global vaccine apartheid. New characters have emerged as the ambivalent subjects of this historical conjuncture: the essential worker, the antimasker, the long-hauler, the COVID minimizer, and the masked minority. The dominant plot points, narrative frameworks, and even genres of fictions of the pandemic have shifted (from the romance of revolutionary change to the tragedy of eclipsed horizons) as we move from the coordinated global response to the chronic phase of capitulation to the virus as never-ending event.

We propose that the COVID pandemic necessitates a thoroughgoing rethinking of literary objects and literary methods. What kind of object is “pandemic fiction,” given the slipperiness of the COVID response itself: alternately criminal or progressive, inadequate or an overreaction, depending on where you sit on the Zoom chessboard? What is the work of critique when reactions of suspicion, paranoia, and denial feel owned by the right, seemingly to relegate progressive scholarship to gestures of hope, faith, and repair? How do we reckon with a world in which our critical practices are so evidently entangled with and defined by our others?

Contributors are invited to pursue any of the above questions and other related topics.

We seek surprising, ambitious, theoretically-rich, and provocative responses to this CFP. Essays that creatively introduce elements of fiction, fictionality, or generic hybridity into their analyses of fictions of the pandemic are also welcome.

Essays should be 7,000–9,000 words, including all quotations and bibliographic references, and should follow the MLA Handbook (9th ed.) for internal citations and the works-cited list. Please submit your essay through the online submission form at Queries ahead of submission may be directed to Roanne Kantor ( and Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan ( For more information, visit