Narrating Identity Formation, On and Off The Map; ACLA 2013 seminar, Toronto, April 5-7, 2013; Deadline: November 1st, 2012

full name / name of organization: 
Coordinators: Georgia Christinidis, Vera Alexander

Like any advanced cartographic process, mapping identity formation requires an imaginary 'cartographic grid.' Until recently, narratives of identity formation, including, in particular, the genres of autobiography and the Bildungsroman, seemed to foreground the temporal dimension over the spatial. However, in "Of Other Spaces", Michel Foucault argues that "We are at a moment … when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein." This seminar investigates how narrative identity constructions are affected by this change.

Questions concerning the effects of this change can be addressed both to the transformations of traditional narrative genres, for instance through the increasing importance of migration as an experience informing identity formation, but also to the new media, for instance the Facebook timeline, in which locales visited by the user play a prominent part. Across both old and new media, changes of locale also entail changing frames of reference, illustrating the context-bound aspects of our identities. Thus, the 'grid' that allows for the mapping of identity changes, or different ways of mapping identity collide as the subject moves through space.

This seminar may address questions concerning the utopian aspect of such processes, when the grid extends beyond actual space into an imaginary commonly extrapolated from a teleological narrative, and their heterotopian aspect, where the collision of different grids destroys narrative continuity and destabilises boundaries between reality and fiction.

Paper proposals can be submitted on the ACLA 2013 website:

The deadline is November 1st 2012, midnight PST.