The Stories We Tell: Forceful Discourses and The Veracity of Narrative(s)

deadline for submissions: 
February 17, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Conference University of California Merced

The Stories We Tell: Forceful Discourses and the Veracity of Narrative(s)

An Interdisciplinary Conference

Fourth Annual Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Student Conference

University of California, Merced

Merced, California

April 22nd 2017

Keynote Speakers: Dr. Keisha-Khan Y. Perry, Associate Professor of Africana Studies, Brown University


Dr. Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley


As we enter the field of ideas, the presence of the narratives by which we ply our trade await us and steer our thoughts with the weight and gravity of their presence And so we must face the problem of precedent and the limits it places on what is available to be said and how and by whom it can be spoken or what can be allowed to speak, as well as forcing us to acknowledge the erasure or preclusion of certain Subjects and their Narratives. Therefore, this conference seeks to critically investigate our own narratives to consider those voices, human or otherwise, that have been silenced and forgotten. This conference takes seriously the entire enterprise of the humanities—and of human beings—invoking Raymond Williams’ directive when he writes that “we need different ideas because we need different relationships.”[1] Our disciplinary confines must be productively eroded and dissolved so that in the words of the late Benedict Anderson, we can embrace the useful feeling of becoming and being marginal and strange as we “begin to notice what is not there” and “become aware of what is unwritten as well as what is written.” Finally, we strive to become less comfortable and thus less complacent with the currents of our inquires and, like Julia Kristeva’s foreigner, feel “strengthened by the distance that detaches” us from others and renders ourselves “relative while others fall victim to the ruts of monovalency” that direct not just our scholastic moves and motives but also our thoughts and means of expression remains strategically necessary.[2] Joining these three concepts—the need to establish different relationships to the world, the recognition of the untold, and the renovation of the scholastic identity—this conference will ask how to approach our work from the outside, from the perspective of an intellectual foreigner rather than succumbing to the overwhelming draw of what has already been spoken and to those who speak it.


This conference seeks to expand our existing perspectives and practices, both disciplinary and interdisciplinary, to illuminate a wider view of what can be discussed with rigor beyond what we currently consider critical scholarship and who or what can participate in it. We question what counts as narrative, the devices and structures that legitimate it, and who decides what stories we are allowed to tell. How do we engage with the stories that are already told, and how might we mitigate lost narratives or narratives that have never been told? How do we speak from an Archive of erasure? What archival gaps remain to be populated with these abandoned voices? How do we challenge narratives that speak falsely? Considering the Anthropocene and the retroactive erasure it has wrought, can we find alternative post-human narratives to tell more truth than we ourselves may be comfortable facing or want to understand?


Possible presentation topics include but are by no means limited to the following, and we encourage topics that straddle the borderlines of conventional classification:


  • Post-humanism and the non-human
  • The intervention and impact of technology on narrative
  • Religion, philosophy, and theology
  • Disciplinary disruptions and their effect on storytelling
  • The problems imposed by disciplinary structures and intellectual precursors
  • Transcultural studies
  • Narratives of resistance, captivity, and those that are hidden, silenced, or hitherto untold
  • Autobiography
  • (Pre)historic memory and social imagination
  • Deployment of digital archives, and the ramifications of increasingly availability information
  • Translation and cross-cultural, cross-national, cross-species communication
  • Bare life and non-life


Please submit 300 word abstracts for: individual papers, presentation, poster, or panel proposals, along with a brief CV, or any questions to: For more information, please visit our website at: deadline to submit a proposal is February 17th 2017. The conference will be held on April 22nd 2017 at the University of California, Merced.

[1] Williams, Raymond. “Ideas of Nature.” Culture and Materialism. New York: Verso, 1980: 85.

[2] Kristeva, Julia. Strangers to Ourselves, trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Colombia University Press: 1991: 7.