Estranged Realities - March 20-21, 2020- NEW DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS! FEB 21

deadline for submissions: 
February 21, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
English Graduate Student Society Université de Montréal

Estranged Realities

The atmosphere surrounding the supernatural and its literary traditions is, according to H.P. Lovecraft, “[a] breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces” (13). The strangeness of the supernatural perturbates comforting and rationalized conceptions of what we understand as being ‘real.’ Because they inherently direct us towards occurrences that only exist in our imagination, to speak of strange or estranged realities makes us confront the unexplainable. As readers of literature, the unexplained is a key feature of the analytic process, where estrangement is inherently acknowledged and attempts to decipher are strived for in the critical encounter. Mark Fisher suggests that the weird “involves a sensation of wrongness: a weird entity should not exist, or at least it should not exist here” (15). Thus, the melding of real, human situations with the notion of the strange creates social and cultural misconstructions. Unusual or unexplainable human psychological or physical afflictions were—and still are—often wrongly associated with weird or strange occurrences. Still, for Mark Fisher, terms such as ‘weird’ and ‘eerie’ allow us to reconcile our “fascination for the outside, for that which lies beyond standard perception, cognition and experience” with how strangeness and strange—or estranged—“modes of fiction, modes of perception” and, most importantly, “modes of being” are interpreted (6).

This colloquium aims to explore strangeness—or what is sometimes deemed to be ‘estranged’ from us—through varied forms of literature and other cultural productions, while highlighting the place that strangeness, the weird, the eerie, and the uncanny occupy in a variety of cultural imaginaries. To achieve this, we wish to explore works of literature, film, or visual arts that reflect upon our conceptualization of the estranged, the unknown, the supernatural, the uncanny, the weird, and the eerie. How does estrangement inform our relationship to the ‘real’? What is the role of ghosts, vampires, and other ‘strange’ beings in literature and how, as beings, do they contribute to our understanding of existence? What are the ethical problems associated with the condition of both a perceived strangeness and an estrangement from others and how are these issues treated in literature and other cultural productions? Finally, what does it mean to be ‘estranged’ from one’s own reality? How is the act of reading or the critical impulse itself an exercise in (overcoming) estrangement?

We invite academic and creative submissions for papers in English or French that interrogate the notion of marginality, estrangement, and the weird from various disciplinary perspectives. Papers can consider a multitude of topics, ranging from estrangement, monstrosity, readings of madness narratives, and processes of othering, to specific historical periods and genres such as the Gothic or Southern Gothic, horror fiction, disembodied poetics, fictional depictions of the supernatural, spectrality, etc.

Submissions can come from a range of disciplines: supernatural studies; pop culture studies; speculative fiction; sci-fi; realism, surrealism; poetics; historical perspectives; disability studies; feminist studies; indigenous studies; non-canonical genres (graphic novels, fanfiction, etc.); queer studies; literary and cultural theory; hauntology; digital humanities; film and visual arts; as well as other disciplines relevant to the aforementioned fields.

This conference will take place at Université de Montréal in Montréal, Canada on March 20-21, 2020.

We are asking those interested in delivering 15 to 20-minute presentations to submit abstracts of no more than 250 words by February 21, 2020. Please submit your application through the survey at the following link:

For any queries, feel free to email the organization committee at 

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Works Cited

Fisher, Mark. The Weird and the Eerie. Repeater Books, London, 2016, p.6,15.

Lovecraft, H.P. “Introduction,” Supernatural Horror in Literature. Edited by E. F. Bleiler. Dover Publications, New York, 1973, p.13.