Luxuries of the Literary Mind: Readings of Commodity and Privilege - March4-6th, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
McGill University

Luxuries of the Literary Mind: Readings of Commodity and Privilege

"Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity." G. K. Chesterton, Defendant (1901)

The McGill English Department's Seventeenth Annual Graduate Conference on Language and Literature will take place in Montreal from March 4 to 6, 2011. The conference will centre on issues of luxury, commodity, and consumption in literature, and other texts and cultural artefacts.

Potential areas for study include, but are not limited to the following:

-class and social standing

-wealth and poverty, images of excess and need

-human rights (sexual freedoms, disability rights, etc.) versus social privilege

-the racialization of wealth and status

-iconography, brands and branding, labels, and commodity fetishism

-consumer behaviour and identity

-binaries of public/private, high/low, male/female, and
consumer/producer central to markets and marketing

-literary depictions of shopping, markets, fairs

-imperialism, colonialism, trade, and their effects (e.g., environmental degradation, exploitative labour)

-gift-giving, treasure, hoarding

-gender, the body, cosmetic technologies and practices

-camp, ostentation, glamour, performance and performativity

-cultural and aesthetic decadence

-literature as a luxury (e.g., book-making expenses and practices, middle- and upper-class education as privilege)

-How has literature shaped or complicated our sense of luxury and commodity? (e.g., American Psycho, Confessions of a Shopaholic)

-How has literature responded to economic or financial fluctuations?

-Gastronomy, Epicureanism, connoisseurship, and urbanity

-Luxury goods and taxes

-Lifestyle porn (e.g., luxury travel, culture, or celebrity narratives)

Conference presentations should not exceed twenty minutes. Proposals will be blind-vetted, and must include a double-spaced, 250-word abstract plus a cover sheet with your name, university, contact information, and a brief biographical paragraph about your academic interests and achievements. Please send your proposal as an email attachment in .doc or .pdf format to by December 13, 2010.