“No Kind of Place”: Location, Migration, and Imagination

deadline for submissions: 
February 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
The International Flannery O’Connor Conference
contact email: 

“No Kind of Place”: Location, Migration, and Imagination
The International Flannery O’Connor Conference

St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, Canada,

June 18-21, 2020

Call for Papers

In her final story, “Judgement Day,” Flannery O’Connor’s character, T.C. Tanner, writes a letter from his adopted home of New York City to a friend still living in their native Georgia. In a post-script to this letter, he warns: “P.S. Stay where you are. Don’t let them talk you into coming up here. Its no kind of place.” Tanner’s suggestive phrase provides the theme of the 2020 International Flannery O’Connor Conference, set in Toronto, Canada, which will explore the power of “place” in O’Connor’s work, and its relationship to concepts such as mobility, migration, and indigeneity. This theme also offers occasion to focus on the notion of “Northern-ness” in O’Connor, and the ways in which it informs, sustains, and challenges the Southern ethos of her art.

Submissions for 20-minute papers treating any aspect of O’Connor and her work are welcome; the organizers are, however, particularly interested in presentations that engage with the discourse of place, its affiliated categories, and the questions which this conceptual frame brings into focus. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

• Border Crossing: How are various borders crossed in O’Connor’s writing? What is at stake in their crossing, and what does their traversal reveal?

• North & South: How does O’Connor rethink the values associated with both Northern-ness and Southernness? What specific social, political, historical, and theological issues does she engage?

• Immigration & Emigration: How are acts of migration imagined in O’Connor’s fiction? What happens to characters who, like O’Connor, depart from—or return—home?

• Indigenous Peoples: What role does indigeneity play in O’Connor’s fiction, and how might this notion relate to her categorization as regionalist writer? What issues can be explored through the interaction of characters who see themselves as the “natives” of a particular place and those who do not—or cannot— make such claims?

• Sacred Places: What sacred spaces are depicted in O’Connor’s fiction? What acts of solemnity, revelation, or violence establish them? How are their borders sustained, effaced, or otherwise permeated?

• Place, Real and Imagined: How are fictional places imaged by both O’Connor and her characters? What force do mythic, remembered, or unreal locations exert? Are these spaces Southern, Northern—or neither?

• Flannery O’Connor & Canadian Literature: What influence has O’Connor had on Canadian writers? What might a Canadian perspective in particular—and a “Northern” perspective more generally—teach us about O’Connor and her work?

Please send 300-word abstracts to Professor Susan Srigley <susans@nipissingu.ca> by 1 Feb 2020; some scholarships will be available for graduate students presenting at the conference.