Free-Exchange 2019: Community Building as Resistance

deadline for submissions: 
January 28, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
University of Calgary Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference
contact email: 

Free-Exchange Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference

University of Calgary, 8-10 March 2019

Deadline for submissions EXTENDED until January 28, 2019.

Community Building as Resistance

In his essay “Towards a Global Literacy,” Bidhan Roy identifies two trends in contemporary post-secondary education: On one hand, universities are increasingly marketing themselves as “global” institutions. Roy argues that “[v]arious claims of globalism become, within this context, a means to attract students by promising them a place within such a neoliberal globalized world[.]” Universities, then, re-entrench a problematic narrative about the inevitability of global capital, and privilege global concerns over local. On the other hand, Roy describes a turn toward civic and community engagement. Universities, he argues, “distinguish themselves from competitors by highlighting connections to their neighbourhoods [and] the cities that surround them,” within which “students have opportunities to participate.”

After Roy recognizes that such a turn towards community should “come from the starting point of disciplinary knowledge, rather than from problematic volunteerism or service frameworks,” these two trends—a reliance upon neoliberal capital and a turn toward community—appear even more at odds because they resist one another.

Can literary study—either within or outside of the academy—assist students, scholars, activists, and artists as they build a praxis of civic and community engagement? How can literature re-activate a sense of community (both local and planetary) in a world dominated by global capitalism?

The 2019 Free-Exchange Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference at the University of Calgary invites graduate and senior undergraduate students to propose presentations about the relationship(s) between community and literature.

How does literature represent communities? How does literature form communities? What does literature teach us about communities and how these communities form? What is the reciprocal relationship between literature and community? How can literary community-building become a form of resistance? What can resistance look like? And how does resistance-as-community operate?

We want to hear about your thoughts on community, literature, and resistance.

We are interested in both critical and creative presentations from scholars in all disciplines. For academic papers, please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words. For creative projects, please submit an artistic statement of no more than 200 words and a sample of your work (and list of publications, if applicable).

All submissions are to be sent in an electronic e-mail attachment to and are due no later than January 28, 2019.


Benjamin Groh and Shuyin Yu, Co-Chairs                                                                                                      

Department of English                                                

University of Calgary