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Mythos and Masks: Eugene O’Neill in Ancient and Modern Contexts

12th International Conference on Eugene O'Neill

May 27-31, 2025, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

In Collaboration with the Department of English Language and Literature,
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Throughout his career, Eugene O'Neill demonstrated a profound interest in Greek mythology, narrative techniques, and dramatic structure. From his experimentation with masks to his intertextual engagement with the Orestes/Electra/House of Atreus mythology in Mourning Becomes Electra, O'Neill's work is replete with references or adaptations of ancient Greek theatrical tropes. Yet even with these foundations of Greek theater in his work (along with influences of Shakespeare and Strindberg), O’Neill would go on to write plays that transcended all different types of traditions. Such works would traverse geographical boundaries, exploring the depths of diverse cultures, landscapes, and characters from around the world.

As we gather in Athens to think about and even visit sacred sites of theater history, we might also contemplate the ways O’Neill celebrated, extended, or rebelled against what came before him.


Possible topics for papers/panels/exploration could include (but are not limited to):

  • O'Neill's use of masks in his plays and its significance in relation to ancient Greek theater traditions

  • The interplay between O'Neill's narratives and Greek myths in works such as Mourning Becomes Electra

  • O'Neill's contributions to the foundation of American drama vis-à-vis his utilization of Greek dramatic principles

  • Greek influences on the Provincetown Players, including Jig Cook and Susan Glaspell’s connections to Delphi

  • O'Neill's engagement with global issues such as colonialism, immigration, and identity

  • The reception and interpretation of O'Neill's works in different countries and cultures

  • Translations, adaptations, and performances of O'Neill's plays in various languages and cultural contexts

  • Artistic visions of O’Neill: contributions from directors, playwrights, dramaturgs, and designers (lighting, scenic, sound, and costume)

  • The business of producing O’Neill’s works--in his time and ours

  • Teaching O’Neill: innovative classroom activities, new ways to approach the plays, AI/technology and pedagogy

Proposals are invited in these formats:

1. Individual papers of 15-20 minutes

2. Panel presentations on a particular theme with three speakers, none to exceed 20 minutes

3. Roundtable discussions of 75 minutes on a particular topic, with 3-6 participants

4. Creative works such as performances, staged readings, or videographic essays

5. Working Groups with an eye toward publication (possibly with the Eugene O’Neill Review)

6. Graduate Student and Advanced Undergraduate student presentations

7. Ted-talk style presentations


Proposals Due
August 15, 2024 

Please send a 250-word proposal, including name, academic affiliation, mail and email addresses, paper title, a brief abstract, biography (of 100 words), and desired format. Panel or roundtable proposals should include this information for all participants, with brief abstracts for panels or participant bios for roundtables. All proposals are due August 15, 2024. Send all proposals to Beth Wynstra ( with the subject heading: Athens Conference.

More conference event information:

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Central Building, 30 Panepistimiou Street, Athens, Greece


The University of Athens in located in the center of the city of Athens, blocks away from the Plaka District (hotels, restaurants, shops) and major historic sites: The Parthenon atop the Acropolis, Theater Dionysia, Acropolis Museum, Ancient Agora, and the National Archaeological Museum.

On Saturday, May 31, we will journey to the Peloponnese to visit the 4th century b.c.e. Ancient Theater of Epidaurus where the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes were performed. We will get a chance to test the acoustics of this 14,000-seat amphitheater that was re-discovered in the late 19th century and hosts performances every summer in this 21st century and also visit the archeological museum.

At our Conference Banquet, on Thursday, May 29, we will award The Eugene O'Neill Medallion to distinguished individuals who have dedicated significant portions of their careers to furthering knowledge and appreciation of O’Neill.

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