Formations: Intersections of Form across the Literary, Social, and Political *Deadline Extended*

deadline for submissions: 
January 19, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
The Graduate English Organization (at the University of Maryland)
contact email: 

11th Annual Graduate English Organization Conference

Formations: Intersections of Form Across the Literary, Social, and Political


Department of English

University of Maryland, College Park

March 10, 2018


“Forms... mean all shapes and configurations, all ordering principles, all patterns of repetition and difference,” writes Caroline Levine in Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network (Princeton University Press, 2015). Forms, understood broadly, are at work both within and beyond the realm of aesthetics; they configure and shape politics, culture, and social interactions; they include hierarchies, patterns, dichotomies, containers, and webs. How, then, do the plurality of forms at work in any given context interact, overlap, and influence each other?

We envision “Formations” as an exploration of the myriad and overlapping forms that govern experience and interpretation​, as well as an inquiry into the action of forming. It is action, after all, that Beyoncé implies with her rallying call, “now let’s get in formation,” at the conclusion of Lemonade. There, we are confronted with a collision of the aesthetic, the political, and the social. How do aesthetic formations subvert, reinforce, echo, and fight against social or political formations? By examining actions of forming, re-forming, and deforming, “Formations” attends to the practices of inclusion and exclusion through which forms are marked and maintained.

In addition to critical presentations, we welcome collaborative projects and creative work in fiction, poetry, drama, dance, arts, and film. Topics of potential essays can include, but are not limited to:


  • How sociopolitical constructions of race, gender, sexuality, and class interact with each other and with aesthetic form

  • How political, social, and literary forms enter and shape one another

  • Material forms and perception of them

  • How entrenched forms exclude and create Others, particularly in relation to questions of (dis)ability, privilege, and morality

  • The persistence, subversion, or reinvention of form in popular culture, protest, social media, and other contexts both literary and beyond.

  • Technology’s impact on how we perceive and apply aesthetic forms, patterns, and hierarchies

  • Forming academic writing, language(s), and classrooms

  • Temporal and geographical divisions between areas of literary study

  • Points of (dis)connection between creative and critical work

  • Form in the materiality of texts and their production

  • Historical or geopolitical formations of nations, regions, and communities

  • The ways that forms travel across different media, including visual art, sound, film, etc.

  • The development and application of linguistic and rhetorical forms

  • The body and its representation

  • Institutional organization and the formation of academic disciplines


Please submit proposals for fifteen-minute presentations. Panel submissions (three presentations per panel) are highly encouraged, as are other collaborative projects. Proposals for papers or panels should be 300-word abstracts. Proposals for creative work should be a short sample from an original composition or a description of the intended work. Please include your full name and email address.

Abstracts are due January 19th and should be e-mailed to