[Per]forming the Present: Studies in Narrative, Temporality, and Zeitgeist

deadline for submissions: 
February 10, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
English Graduate Student Society at Carleton University

CALL FOR PAPERS [Per]forming the Present: Studies in Narrative, Temporality, and Zeitgeist
Department of English Graduate Conference, Carleton University
26-29 April 2019

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”
D.H. Lawrence

Carleton University’s English Graduate Student Society invites paper and presentation proposals which critique, question, and inhabit the present. How is our everyday world shaped into a zeitgeist of culture and thought? How is this present formed, reformed, and performed in cultural texts and narratives, in political ideology and utopian possibility, in historicity and temporality? How do we take up moments of the past which were representative of their presents, and, through hindsight, form a conception of any given present which is now past? Or, in keeping with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announcement this fall that without immediate systemic change, the earth is expected to reach record, irreparable temperatures as soon as 2030, how might we situate the issues of the future in a way that make the present culpable?

This conference seeks to understand how research in all disciplines works to reform the nebulous promise of the future by or through performing the present. A closer examination of the performative and narratological structures of the present reveals that often, these framing narratives differ greatly from our own lived experiences. As Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing describes, the capitalist narrative of progress and growth is not only an ill fit for our lives, but it also blocks our ability to see “the situation of our world” – a present that Tsing situates through precarity over progress. Tsing’s work illustrates how we can perform the present differently, and embody it for different social and philosophical possibilities. How might we understand “the now” as a zone rather than a moment, or as a moment rather than a zone? How were medieval, Renaissance, and later authors forming and formed by their presents? Or has the present already ended, as Frederic Jameson seems to suggest, leaving us “in a situation in which we are not even sure there is so coherent a thing as an ‘age’ or zeitgeist or ‘system’ or ‘current situation’ any longer”?

This conference seeks to understand how research in all disciplines works to reform the nebulous promise of the future by or through performing the present. We welcome submissions from graduate students of all disciplines. We also invite submissions for creative projects and presentations, including but not limited to digital projects, poetry or creative non-fiction, performance art and visual art. In addition to individual paper or project proposals, we also invite scholars to take part in a general round-table discussion to present a five-minute summary of their work as it relates to the overarching theme of the conference. Finally, in the interest of creating a more sustainable and accessible conference, we also accept proposals for virtual presentations consisting of video files (or other materials) that can be posted online to our website. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

● Anxiety, apocalypse, other radical or drastic change
● Globalization, capitalism, and their effects on temporality
● Ecocriticism, climate change, the effects of the present on the future
● Ethnography and autoethnography as history
● Queer, feminist, or racial rewritings of history’s past presents
● Speculative fiction, genre, and reimaginations of the present through the future
● Performance and self-conscious consciousness
● Celebrity, fame, and other spokespeople of the zeitgeist

Please submit proposals of 250-350 words along with a brief (~150 words) bio to cuEGSSconference@gmail.com by February 10, 2019. We will notify applicants by February 28, 2019.