Life After the Fall: Ruins in the Literary and Cultural Imaginary
Life After the Fall: Ruins in the Literary and Cultural Imaginary Department of English Thirteenth Graduate Student Conference University of Ottawa February 28th- March 1st 2020
We are most interested in thinking about how ruins might be figured not only as the ending of something, but also as the beginning of something else.
Hannah McGregor, Julie Rak, & Erin Wunker, Refuse: CanLit in Ruins
And on the Pedestal, these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works ye Mighty and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias”
Ruins have been a consistent object of interest throughout the history of cultural productions, often used as powerful representations of individual and collective affects of psychic complexity. Whether reflecting on the links between witnessing and testimony, temporality and place, community and memory, or “anxious” cultural and political moments of change, the image of the ruin evokes affects of not only destruction and impermanence, but also resilience. Ruins are also a testament to the tenacity of people to manipulate their surroundings and build structures to their own advantage, as well as emblematic of the human potential to outlast their own constructions. Ruins are evidence of what once was, and evidence that different forms of life can survive without. Literature and culture consistently bear witness to various forms of ruination whether in the form of literal ruins, or in the form of personal or collective fall. We invite presenters to reflect on the representation of ruins in various cultural moments and forms, and to trace collectively how the daunting image of ruins provokes literary, cultural, and political expression.
Potential topics can include, but are not limited to:
• Memory and Post-Memory
• Mourning and Necropolitics
• Hauntology • Witnessing and Testimony
• Preservation and Loss
• War, Persecution, and Genocide
• Colonial Contact
• Nationalisms and “Anxious States”
• Queer Theory
• The Apocalypse/PostApocalypse
• Cold War Fiction
• Affect Theory and Sentimentality
• Place and Spatiality
• Modern Ruins
• Ancient Ruins
• Fragments and Fragmentation
• Ruined Reputations (Cancel Culture)
• Intersectionality and the Fallen Woman
• Ruins and Posthumanism
• Environmental Degradation
Please submit proposals of 250 words along with a brief (100 words) bio to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 13, 2019. We will notify applicants of our decisions by mid-January 2020.