The Body in/of Don DeLillo's Plays

The Body in/of Don DeLillo’s Plays

Organized by Dr. habil. Johanna Hartmann (MLU Halle-Wittenberg)

June 20 – 21, 2024, online

Over the course of his career, spanning the last five decades, Don DeLillo has become one of the most prolific and renowned contemporary writers of fiction and an important public voice on American life and culture. DeLillo might be best-known as a writer of prose fiction. Since the late 1970s, however, he has also published four full-length plays, one one-act play, and two microdramas. In all of these texts, DeLillo explores the contemporary conditio humana. Each play weighs in on central, existential themes of the day, such as: life as a social game and the prevalence of social conventions in The Engineer of Moonlight (1979); mental illness, performativity, and the contingency of life in The Day Room (1986); life in a global media economy in Valparaiso (1999); sickness, death, and the ethics of end-of-life care in Love-Lies-Bleeding (2006); and climate change in The Word for Snow (2007).

This conference project takes the relevance of the human body in DeLillo’s works as a starting point of research, arguing that this approach allows for a more nuanced view on the ethical, epistemological, and aesthetic ramifications of embodiment in Don DeLillo’s plays. As such, this project addresses various research desiderata. On the one hand this research project addresses the gaps in research on Don DeLillo’s works: (1) the underappreciated and underresearched aspect of the body and embodiment in his works and, (2), his dramatic oeuvre. On the other hand, this research project speaks to the emergence of new research paradigms such as studies in embodiment, cognitive culture studies, or enactivism which allow for a nuanced description of the interconnectedness of embodied and cognitive dimensions in DeLillo’s plays. As dramatic texts always stand in a tensional relationship to their (embodied) realizations on the theater stage, this subcorpus of DeLillo’s oeuvre promises new insights on the body-mind-relation and open up new research avenues also for DeLillo’s prose texts.

Please click here to download the conference program and here for the conference brochure.

In order to participate at this conference please send an e-mail to – at some point before June 13, 2024 – and you will be provided with the conference link briefly before the conference.

Supported by:






Dr. Johanna Hartmann

Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg