Call for Papers: ‘A word, after a word, after a word is power’: The Hulu Adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-2024): A one-day multidisciplinary symposium.

Friday, September 13, 2024

University of Northumbria at Newcastle

We are inviting proposals for 20-minute conference papers on the Hulu Adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s famous 1985 dystopia. The novel was published during Ronald Regan’s troubled presidency, which witnessed second-wave feminism, anti-pornography, pro-life and pro-legal abortion campaigns, but the first season of the adaptation was likewise released during troubled times, a few months after the controversial election of Donald Trump as the 50th President of the USA, which created an equally tense political scene. Women across the world were protesting for female and human rights, often dressed in the now iconic Handmaid’s costume. In a photograph taken the day after Trump’s Inauguration, at the Women’s March on Washington, a protester held a sign bearing a slogan that spoke to the moment: ‘MAKE MARGARET ATWOOD FICTION AGAIN’.2 The eerie resemblance between facts and fiction is the main reason behind the critical and popular success of both the novel and its 2017-2024 TV Adaptation. The symposium supported by the Department of Humanities is a collaboration between the research groups, Gendered Subjects and Modern and Contemporary Writings.

The plenary speaker for the Symposium is Dr Fiona Tolan, who won the 2024 Margaret Atwood Society award for her latest monograph The Fiction of Margaret Atwood, published by Bloomsbury in 2023.

The symposium is multidisciplinary, and we invite papers from the fields of literature, language, social and political sciences, film studies, fashion, and music. It coincides with the year that will see the airing of the sixth and final season of The Handmaid’s Tale, marking the end of an era. The symposium celebrates, exposes, and interrogates the boundaries and depths of misogyny, political correctness, public and private offence and outrage, repudiation of human and reproductive rights, violence and oppression, aesthetics and environmental disasters, all balancing on a thin line between a possible dystopic future and real-world events. Papers can approach Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale with reference to the following concepts, approaches or themes, though the list is not exhaustive:

  • Dystopian and Speculative Fiction
  • Theory of Adaptation – creating the novel on screen
  • Exploring Gender
  • Sex, Desire, and Consent
  • Motherhood, Fatherhood and Reproduction
  • Political and Personal Violence
  • Place / Space
  • Food
  • Uniforms
  • Eco-Criticism
  • Immigration
  • Music and its Significance
  • Language and Narrative Voice


Proposals should include a title, an abstract of 150–200 words, a brief biographical note (up to 100 words), and contact details. If you would like to propose a themed panel, do please get in touch informally asap.

Please submit your proposals to the main symposium organiser Dr Kiriaki (Korina) Massoura ( by the 17th of May 2024. We encourage submissions from scholars at all stages of their careers, including early career researchers and postgraduate students. Interdisciplinary approaches and innovative methodologies are welcome.

We will confirm acceptance by the 30th of June 2024. There will be a small conference fee (£10 for unwaged and £20 for waged delegates) that will cover light refreshments and lunch.