Stony Brook University
32nd Annual English Graduate Conference
February 28, 2020
Since the spatial turn of the early 1990s, literary criticism has increasingly recognized the important role that space plays in shaping the way we experience the world. Humans have historically assumed the power to dictate what space means, and, far from benign, this imposition has led to the systematic justification of imperialist, fascist, sexist, extractionist, racist, and other hegemonic enterprises. By discursively constructing space as passive, empty, and “up for grabs,” people have routinely justified the conquest of space and claimed the right to determine who can access which places and in what manner.
The need to understand, explore, and re-imagine space is as pressing as ever. For example, rising nationalist movements demonstrate the ways in which marginalized bodies are policed within political spheres. The global climate crisis draws attention to humanity’s scale of influence on the environment. Digital frontiers, both created and colonized, bear utopian and dystopian potential for imagining virtual spaces. Canonical and pedagogical spaces in the academy are being reconfigured as scholars have been challenged to rethink their boundaries.
How can texts, literary and otherwise, help us to question ideological boundaries and re-imagine space to explore various states of social flux? How does literature have the potential to open up space in a way that legitimizes fluid states of identity? How can we reconceptualize space to allow for a multiplicity of perspectives?
We invite abstracts for papers that explore space - both how we configure it and how it configures us - in all of its formulations and proposed reformulations.
Abstracts of 250-300 words should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 4, 2020. Presentation topics may include but are not limited to the following:
- Space and the body
- Cognitive space and the space of ideas
- Colonized and decolonized space
- Ecocritical engagements with space and environment
- Utopias, dystopias, and heterotopias
- Gendering and racialization of space
- Canonical space
- Pedagogical space and new modes of learning
- Disabilities and space
- Narrative spaces and gaps
- Trauma’s effects on mental and physical spaces
- Urban, suburban, and rural spaces
- Travel and movement
- Geography, borders, and immigration
- Boundaries, security, and the policing of space
- Conceptions of nation and home
- Digital spaces and cyberspace
- Story worlds and fictional spaces
- Space and time
- Public versus private space
- Space versus place
- Safe and unsafe spaces
- Space of history
- Space of testimony
For more information, please visit our conference website,