NonfictioNOW 2018 Call for Panel Proposals

The NonfictioNOW Conference is currently seeking panel proposals for its 2018 conference, taking place November 1-3 in Phoenix, Arizona, hosted by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University and held at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel and historic Orpheum Theatre.

NonfictioNOW is unique in being neither a conventional academic conference nor a writers’ festival, but rather a lively conversation among peers, one that brings together well-established writers and those just starting out. We are especially interested in proposals that defy the expectations and/or subvert the format of the traditional conference panel, as well as those that include a diverse group of participants, reflecting the inclusive and international nature of this gathering.

In the past, the most successful panels have been conceived and conducted as lively, discursive, playful, and interactive events, as opposed to the reading of a succession of individual papers. Similarly, we are enthusiastic about the great energy and range present in all of nonfiction’s many forms, including literary and political essays; memoir and journalism; digital media, graphic memoirs, and hybrid essays; performance-based work; and other areas of the field. Our hope is that we might receive great proposals exploring the many different shapes of nonfiction, with variety and diversity serving to enlarging both the conversation and community present at the conference.

Submissions are due April 15, 2018. All submissions must include a panel description (150 words or less, written as it should appear in the program, if accepted), a statement of merit (150 words or less), and the complete contact information for three to five panel participants, including a program-ready bio of 50 words or less for each participant.

The NonfictioNOW Board is a rotating group of writers and academics from around the world. Panel submissions will be assessed in a timely fashion by the Board, with every effort made to have final panels confirmed by the middle of July.


The following list is a starting place for brainstorming and conversation, not an exclusive expression of the conference’s interests. We hope and expect that many proposals will go far beyond the topics listed here, offering to bring new areas of inquiry and exploration to this year’s NonfictioNOW:

  • nonfiction genres and their boundaries and tensions, including but not limited to: essay (personal, narrative, lyric, collage, interdisciplinary, etc.); memoir; immersion writing; history; biography; long-form journalism; travel writing; food writing; nonfiction poetry; environmental and science writing; sports writing; hybrids of fiction and nonfiction
  • non-traditional and/or supra-literary forms of nonfiction, including but not limited to: performance, documentary, radio, video, hypertext, programmable media, and graphic forms
  • indigenous, regional, national, and/or international characteristics and issues that are expressed through nonfiction genres
  • threads of influence, style, and discourse, with a focus on important authors or on historical/cultural/theoretical trends
  • the poetics of nonfiction
  • intersections of self and other genders, race, sexualities, and abilities in nonfiction
  • nonfiction in/as translation


  • Please note that individuals may appear on up to three panel proposals and may present on two. If all three proposals of a person’s panels are accepted, they will have to drop off one of them. 
  • The conference cannot fund presenters, but we will provide travel tips to make the trip more affordable. After this year’s panel acceptances are announced, we will encourage meetups on Facebook’s Friends of NonfictioNOW page so that people without a panel can find one and panels with vacancies can fill their open spots.
  • To help facilitate international diversity, we will give preference to panels with three to four participants that indicate their willingness to include additional panelists.
  • It is the role of each panel chair to finalize, confirm, and coordinate their panel, as well as provide any necessary additional information for the conference program.
  • After panel acceptances go out, we will open up a second call for proposals to formally participate in the conference outside of panels. In Reykjavik in 2017, this took the form of  roundtable presentations (in Icelandic, húslestur, or “house readings”). More information will be forthcoming.  The conference will host multiple sessions of these húslestur, creating another avenue for participation and conversation among participants and potential presenters.

Click here to submit