CFP: First Nations Writing Panel (grad) (1/5/07; New Worlds, Lost Worlds, 3/10/06-3/11/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Sheila Simonson
contact email: 

New Worlds, Lost Worlds-Discovery, Change and Loss in Literature: Graduate
Conference at McGill University:

Panel on First Nations Writing



How can an underwritten, miss-written and largely obscured history and
cultural narrative be recovered and restored? What are the implications of
such imposed invisibility and silence? Language and literature can play a
powerful role in repression. Indeed, in the context of the colonization of
our First Nations, they functioned as powerful tools, controlling and
co-opting systems of communication and commerce while propagating inherently
racist and demoralizing epistemological models and discourses which many
would argue are still problematic today. In the wake of such a past, how
does a community articulate and address those multi-generational changes and
losses including the decimation of culture and the loss of tradition
practices and lands, family ties, native languages, and self-determination?
In the hands and words of the colonized, can language and writing
alternatively serve as a vehicle for reclaiming identity and a previously
denied subjectivity? Does creative expression offer the possibility of
long-overdue recognition and if so, how? Moreover, can storytelling not only
'set the record straight', but provide a forum for real future change
through critical engagement with the past and the present?


As evidenced by the cursory questions posed here, papers on the subject of
First Nations writing can cover a wide range of topics and issues and are
necessary if, as scholars and students, we are to begin to appreciate the
subtleties and understand the complexities inherent in their writings.
Possible panel proposals may address issues such as: complications
confronted by First Nations writers who choose to write in English rather
than in their native languages; the personal and political challenges of
re-writing or righting history; the role/function of memory and/or haunting
in First Nations' writings; the role of non-written forms in First Nations
storytelling; resistance strategies; the transmission of multi-generational
knowledge; experiences of residential schools; identity politics; cultural
(in)visibility; dealing with loss and trauma; post-colonial theory.


Proposals for papers of approximately 300 words should be submitted to
Sheila at by January 5, 2007. Selections will be made by the
end of January.

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Received on Fri Dec 15 2006 - 20:15:37 EST