Common Threads: Invention, Inspiration, Interpretation, and Practice

deadline for submissions: 
March 6, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Western Illinois University English Graduate Organization
contact email: 

Common Threads: Invention, Inspiration, Interpretation, and PracticeWestern Illinois University 17th Annual EGO / ΣΤΔ (English Graduate Organization/Sigma Tau Delta) ConferenceDate Changed from October 2020 to April 2021


In Mark Twain's Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review, the famous author remarks, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” In Common Threads: Invention, Inspiration, Interpretation, and Practice, we would like to question and explore the ways in which texts interact and influence each other, both across disciplines and through time.


No author writes in a vacuum; in both creative and critical work, authors inevitably incorporate previous theories and draw inspiration from existing ideas. In other words, part of how authors explore common threads they inherit and implement is by developing different ways of writing and reading them. Each different practice of expression demands engagement with the commonplaces of human experience. 


How do these new writings change, challenge, or continue the tradition of the source material? As common threads in narrative, theme, structure and ideology are replicated and reimagined in new contexts, how do creators add new meaning to existing material? We invite papers that engage with these questions of originality, copying, creation, and practice across the humanities and social sciences, including fields of cultural studies, literary and visual studies, film and media studies, linguistics, history, philosophy, political science, religion, sociology, and pedagogy. 


Keynote: TBA


Proposals: We welcome papers from scholars, graduate, and undergraduate students, and we will consider individual papers and panel proposals.

Possible areas of exploration may include the following:


  • Originality, invention, and ownership of ideas: What is an original idea? How different does it have to be from previous creations to be considered new? Can you own an idea?

  • Copying, crediting, and citation: How do critics and authors respond to, engage with, or repurpose the ideas of others?

  • Retelling: What is the value of recycling common narrative tropes and reimaging archetypes? Can retellings raise new meaning or bring attention to unrepresented voices?

  • Iteration and evolution: What patterns arise across media, and how do they reflect or impose meaning on society? How do ideas shift and change over time and context?

  • Practice: How are common threads, commonplaces, and shared ideas implemented across genres and disciplines? How and why do they continue to be meaningful?

  • Adaptation: How do adaptations across different forms of media preserve or transform the source material? What is gained or lost in translation?

  • Archives/digital archives: How are ideas/materials translated to a digital format? How do digital technologies impact the dissemination and permutation of ideas?

  • Interpretation: How can new readings of texts through different lenses draw out new meaning or suggest an alternative interpretation? (Queer, feminist, postcolonial, Marxist, neurodiverse readings, etc.)

  • Experimental literary and artistic practice: How can new techniques transform existing ideas or subvert expectations?

  • Literature and everyday life: How do narratives influence and mirror daily life and vice versa? What do texts reveal about the cultural context in which they were created?

  • Literature, art, and altered states of consciousness: How does consciousness impact interactions with media? How does media influence consciousness? 

  • Copyright law and rules: How do they affect the distribution of materials, circulation of academic materials, or use of others’ ideas? How has the internet and new media altered our notions of copyright?

  • Expectations: Our expectations for how to fit social functions are given to us by our provided social models. Social expectations only exist because of both failed and successful attempts at invention. How do these expectations shape our ideas and relationships to history, literature, and culture?

  • Identities: Social identities are often emulations of various social figures. How are identities born of attempts at reinvention and iteration?


Please send 250-word abstracts to by Sunday, September 06, 2020.

Contact Information:

  • Email:

  • Mailing Address: The English Graduate Organization / Sigma Tau Delta Conference, 

The Department of English, 124 Simpkins Hall, Macomb, IL 61455

  • Phone: 309.298.1103


For further information, please visit our website:


Registration: EGO will inform you of your acceptance to the conference via email. Once you are accepted, registration takes place on Saturday, October 10 at 8:30 a.m. in Simpkins Hall. 

Registration page (


Registration fees: $10 (undergraduates), $15 (graduates), $20 (faculty), which includes breakfast and lunch. Registration fee can be paid at the conference in cash, credit card, check, or in advance by post to the following address:


EGO/STD Conference

Department of English

c/o Roberta Di Carmine

1 University Circle Macomb, IL 61455


Lodging: WIU recommends the following hotels for your stay in Macomb: