Radical Visions: Abolition as Praxis in Rhetoric, Literature, and Culture

deadline for submissions: 
February 2, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Graduate English Organization at the University of Maryland
contact email: 

Call for Proposals: 13th Annual Graduate English Organization Conference 


Radical Visions: Abolition as Praxis in Literature, Rhetoric, and Culture

Department of English

University of Maryland

February 28-29, 2020


What needs to be abolished in your discipline? What can emerge to take its place? Starting from the intellectual posture of prison abolition and encompassing diverse, interdisciplinary methodologies and periods, this conference seeks to identify justice-centered approaches to the study of literature and rhetoric, along with the structures that make such work difficult. Abolitionist activism across time is not only powerfully disruptive, but also deeply imaginative, daring to dream of ways of knowing and being outside seemingly intractable institutions. From the freedom dream of a nation without slavery to the contemporary pushes to envision justice without prisons, abolitionist activists have shattered the boundaries of the possible. What new methods, texts, and ideas emerge through this willingness to dismantle? Key to this approach is thinking broadly about the diverse sites scholarly inquiry manifests, including pedagogy, activist work, art and performance, public writing, and more. Also central is critical examination of the academic industrial complex and the boundaries and limitations of academic work. 


We welcome proposals for individual papers, panels, and roundtables, as well as creative writing submissions (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, theater, film, etc.) and nontraditional approaches to conference panels. Interdisciplinary panels and panels that speak to diverse sites of intellectual production outside the academy are particularly welcome.  


Proposal topics may include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Alternative and public pedagogies, including service learning 

  • Resistance narratives in diverse sites and genres

  • Nationalism, isolationism, and borders, including the rise of white nationalist terrorism and its implications for the humanities  

  • Public writing and writing for diverse audiences

  • Public humanities and digital humanities

  • Alternative periodization

  • Activism, community work, and social movements

  • Disciplinary critique, disciplinary history, and interdisciplinary methods 

  • Digital and multimodal approaches to literature and rhetoric

  • Policy and law and the resonances of both in literature and culture 

  • Boundaries among print, orality, and new media 

  • Experimentation in genre, form, aesthetics, etc.  

  • Global, transnational and planetary studies 

  • Labor and capitalism, particularly in the academic context

  • Speculative futurity and the political imagination 


For paper proposals or creative submissions, please submit a 250-300 word abstract or summary of creative work. For panel proposals, including roundtables or nontraditional panels, submit an abstract of no more than 500 words. Please include your preferred email and full name. Send all submissions to conference.geo@gmail.com no later than February 2nd.