Present Pasts and Future Histories: Places, Spaces, and Discourses

deadline for submissions: 
January 17, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
New Directions in Critical Theory Graduate Conference, University of Arizona

When: April 3 & 4, 2020

Where: University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Keynote speakers: Dr. Sherryl Vint & Dr. Rei Terada

Proposal: 250 words

Contact: Heidi Wallace and Sarah Wilhoit;

The artist, writes T.S. Eliot, should foster “a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence.” Our conference theme this year is “Present Pasts and Future Histories: Places, Spaces, and Discourses.” We are particularly interested in uncovering obscured histories and speculating about possible futures. For instance, we find it important to acknowledge that the University of Arizona is located on lands traditionally stewarded by the Tohono O'Odham and other indigenous people. Like all of the United States, this place has its own complicated history, rife with colonial violence and fraught by contested borders. Willa Cather once proclaimed, “The great fact was the land itself,” evoking the mythos of American exceptionalism while obscuring the history of colonialism and violence that enabled colonial settlements in the first place. This year’s conference will therefore consider how intersections of history, place, language, and colonialism elucidate the complex layers of the past, present, and future. 

We invite papers that explore conceptions of place, space, location, borders, cartography, environment, and/or regionalism. While we are especially interested in projects that situate these concepts within some sort of temporal framework, we will also accept papers that engage in topics beyond our conference theme. With an aim of interdisciplinarity, we welcome emerging scholars from a range of fields, including literature, rhetoric and composition, SLAT/EAL, creative writing, film, gender and women’s studies, American Indian studies, Mexican American studies, Africana studies, cultural studies, geography, anthropology, and other related fields. 

Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

●     Ecocriticism

●     Science fiction, speculative fiction, and science fantasy

●     Indigenous languages, literatures, and cultures

●     Histories and erasures

●     Historicizing the present

●     Critical cartographies and conceptions of the environment

●     Regional literatures

●     Intersectional feminisms

●     Problematics of American exceptionalism

●     Conceptions of place, frontiers and/or borders

●     Poetics and aesthetics

●     Discourse in the Trump Era

●     Afrofuturism, Latinx Futurism, and/or Indigenous Futurism

●     Mythologies, ancient texts, and folklore

●     Temporalities of literature and language

●     Literatures of the American Southwest

●     Discourses of power and subversion; camp, satire, parody

●     Oral histories

●     Considerations of the modern, modernism, and/or postmodern

●     Climate crisis


Submitting Proposals:

We are seeking proposals for 15-20 minute presentations. We will group presentations thematically into panels. Proposals for roundtables, creative presentations, and alternative formats are also welcome. To submit a proposal, please include the following information on one Word or PDF document:

  1. Your name, pronouns, department, and institution

  2. A two or three sentence scholarly biography using third person; this biography will be used to introduce you at the conference

  3. The title of your paper or creative presentation

  4. An abstract of no more than 250 words


Please email your proposal to by 5 p.m. on January 17. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance by February 15.