Literature and Intersectionality

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Fourth Annual Literature and Social Justice Graduate Student Conference
contact email: 

Call for Papers: Literature and Intersectionality
Fourth Annual Literature and Social Justice Graduate Student Conference
Lehigh University English Department
Bethlehem, PA

Date: Friday, March 2-Saturday, March 3

Submission guidelines: Deadline Extended to Nov. 15! 
Graduate students and independent scholars should send abstracts of no more than 300 words to Sam Sorensen and Joanna Grim at by November 15, 2017. Please submit abstracts as .pdf or .docx attachments and not in the body of the email. In your abstract, include your name, email, institutional affiliation (if any), and working title. Please email us with questions regarding submissions. Graduate students at all levels and independent scholars are welcome to submit.

We seek proposals that take intersectional approaches to studying literature and doing academic work. We are excited for papers that engage with literary representations of struggles for racial, economic, and gender justice in the United States and globally. We are also interested in papers that engage with the intersection of racial, economic, and other struggles for justice and in how literature and intersectionality provide ways of thinking about and building coalitions. We also invite proposals that explore anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-classist teaching practices, curricula, research, and criticism. Given the history within and beyond academia of coopting, neutralizing, and commodifying minority and working class cultures, art, literatures, and resistance, we encourage papers that discuss ways that students, professors, and staff are confronting inequality and injustice and creating more ethical ways of doing academic work. We strongly encourage students from historically marginalized groups, including but not limited to poc, women, lgbtq, and the differently abled, to submit. We hope to receive submissions from first time conference goers as well as more experienced students and independent scholars.

Our conception of “literature” includes diverse texts, modes, and genres. In addition to more traditional literature papers, we are excited about submissions that engage with film and television, visual art, spoken word poetry and other oral forms, hip-hop, comic books, graphic novels, literature for youth, and historical documents and events. The conference theme is “Literature and Intersectionality,” but we will also consider papers that more broadly address the relationship between literature and social justice.

Suggested Topics Include:

  • Literature and sites of difference, such as class, race, gender, sexuality, religion, and disability
  • Intersectional approaches to studying literature and doing academic work
  • Democracy and literature
  • Relationship between Literary Studies and Ethnic Studies
  • Spoken word and other oral literature and traditions 
  • Literature of diaspora, including immigrant and refugee stories/writers
  • Decolonial theory and literature
  • Literature and settler-colonialism
  • Composition and rhetoric pedagogy
  • Anti-racist/classist approaches to teaching literature 
  • Otherness, difference, solidarity, and identity 
  • Coalition activism and movements
  • Vernacular literatures in English 
  • Creating publics and counterpublics 
  • Teaching social justice through literature
  • Academia as advocacy
  • Wars and anti-war movements (including the wars on poverty, drugs, and terror)
  • Literature related to movements for social change
  • Free speech on and off campus
  • The resurgence of ideas and movements associated with white nationalism, the Alt Right, and/or white supremacy
  • Critical engagement with white allyship in anti-racist struggle, for example, recent groups such as Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and their relationship with Black Lives Matter
  • Challenging progress narratives within and beyond academia, with inspiration from David E. Kirkland’s “Beyond the Dream.”