Strangely Familiar: Reading and Recognition in English Studies (Abstracts due January 31, 2014; Conference held May 16-17, 2014)

full name / name of organization: 
Endnotes UBC English Graduate Conference (Department of English, University of British Columbia)


Location: Green College, the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada


Proposal Deadline: Friday January 31st, 2014

"STRANGELY FAMILIAR" is the organizing theme for Endnotes 2014, the annual graduate conference of the Department of English at the University of British Columbia. This conference invites you to consider the "strangely familiar" in literary, language, and interdisciplinary contexts.

What is the "strangely familiar"? In Faking It: Poetics & Hybridity, Fred Wah outlines an emancipatory poetics of estrangement in which the "strangely familiar," as "not quite what we expect, but familiar," reveals the disruptive and paradigmatic valences of meaning-making processes. Wah's "making strange" engages in an existing critical taxonomy of the strangely familiar that works at multiple dimensions – from word, to text, to context – to render the known unknown without necessarily making it unrecognizable. According to Bertolt Brecht, for example, the "estrangement effect" can interrupt the common with the unexpected, only to make it more comprehensible. The disruption of sameness does not erase all traces of meaning; instead, the process exposes language's capacity to simultaneously obscure and reflect inherited significations. Thus, the strangely familiar offers an avenue into marriages and spectrums of local and foreign, central and marginal, legible and illegible, self and other, old and new.

Wah's poetics of estrangement is one invocation among many of the strangely familiar, which reemerges historically and across contexts. From Freudian psychoanalysis to Chomskian universal grammar, from Derridean différance to Bhabhaian hybridity, the implications of the strangely familiar exceed disciplinary boundaries and representational categories. How does the strangely familiar manifest in English studies and beyond? What does the strangely familiar reveal about points of intersection and contention between critical schools and disciplines? How does it gesture towards changes in and permeate subfields of English language and literature over time?

The simultaneous interrogation and reinvigoration of the known also motions towards the cultural production of knowledge. How is the strangely familiar taken up in various cultural modes and meaning-making processes? To what extent do media and communications technologies deploy or revitalize it? At what level is the strangely familiar freeing, as Wah describes, or restrictive? In what ways does a poetics of estrangement create or allow for complex relationships among layers of meaning? Extending into the resurging discussion of a politics of recognition and misrecognition, how do questions of ethics and power invoke the strangely familiar?

We encourage submissions across a variety of disciplines and approaches. Potential topics for exploration include, but are not limited to:
Paraphrase, mimesis, and mimicry
Implications of (mis)reading
The politics of recognition and/or misrecognition
Experimental poetics
Cultural memory
Death and the supernatural
The uncanny
The sublime
Methodological and epistemological innovation
Rereadings and adaptations
Object-oriented philosophies
Non-human-human relationships
Theories of place and space
World Englishes
Language death and revitalization
(Corpus) stylistics
Conceptual metaphors
Translation and 'translationese'
(Historical) pragmatics
Intercultural communication

Please send proposals to by Friday January 31st, 2014.

We welcome both traditional and non- traditional presentations of no longer than 20 minutes each. In addition to traditional academic panels, the committee will be organizing creative presentations and events on Friday. We enthusiastically encourage creative submissions, including literary work, visual art, performance art, and multimedia presentations that address the conference theme in some fashion. For individual papers, please include a 300-word abstract and a 50-word bio. For panel proposals, please send a 500-word abstract describing the overall panel, as well as paper titles and 50-word bios for each presenter. For creative submissions, please include a 300-word abstract, a 50-word bio, a 3-page sample of your proposed project or previous work, and indicate the estimated duration of your presentation.

We look forward to reading your submissions,

ENDNOTES 2014 Committee