"Of Monsters and Miracles" March 1-March 3, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
The University of Western Ontario

Of Monsters and Miracles

"I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself," Michel de Montaigne writes in his essays. This conference aims to explore society's obsession with monstrosity and the marvellous. Montaigne's assertion neatly encapsulates the duality that simultaneously frightens and awes us, and its grounding in the human. Symbols of what constitutes the monstrous and the miraculous transgress historical eras and cultural boundaries, as manifestations of a given society's anxieties and/or delights. Contemporary cultural critic Jeffrey Jerome Cohen argues, "the monster signifies something other than itself: it is always a displacement, always inhabits the gap between the time of upheaval that created it and the moment into which it is to be received, to be born again" (Monster Theory 4). As this quotation demonstrates, figures of the monstrous may easily morph and slide into figures of the miraculous. From Jesus Christ to True Blood, from Frankenstein to Alien—today's culture reveals that humans are as fascinated with and repelled by the "extraordinary" as we ever were. But must we (can we? should we?) expel the "monstrous" in order to reconcile ourselves with it? May we take up Cohen's notion of renewal, and may we divine a "miraculous" in our world?

We welcome you to the 14th Annual Graduate Student Conference hosted by the Comparative Literature and Hispanic Studies programs at The University of Western Ontario. This event will take place from March 1-3, 2012. Conference organizers particularly welcome papers that are inter-disciplinary, including but not limited to literature, theory, cultural studies, film studies, visual arts, music, theatre and popular culture.

Suggested paper topics may include but are certainly not limited to the following:
• "monstrous" creatures: humans, werewolves, witches, vampires, zombies
• "miraculous"/ "heavenly" creatures: humans, angels, fairies, nymphs
• genres: dream visions, gothic, grotesque, horror, slasher, supernatural, sci-fi, speculative, magic realism
• constructions and discourses of the "Other": women, pregnancy
• desiring machines, infernal and divine
• degeneration/ regeneration/ transmutation
• borders: transcending, transgression, deviance
• aggression, violence, peace
• monstrous languages
• miraculous and/or monstrous creativity
• sites, sacred and/or profane: geography, technology
• corporality and spirituality body modification:
• cyborgs, surgeries, tattoos, piercings, scarring body & soul: subject, object, abject
• perception: ghosts, hauntings, visions, artificial intelligence

Individuals interested in presenting 20-minute papers must submit a 300 word abstract to uwo.grad.conference2012@gmail.com before January 1st 2012. We ask participants to please include name, affiliation, technical requirements and a 50 word bio with the abstract. As this is a conference organized by two programs, we will accept abstracts and papers in both English and Spanish (panels in Spanish will be held). For further information, please check out our Facebook page.

Victoria Wolff (Faculty advisor)
Anaid Pérez Mata Grajales (Organizer Hispanic Studies)
Janice Zehentbauer (Organizer Comparative Literature)