Designing the Self

deadline for submissions: 
May 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Humanities Graduate Student Association, York University
contact email: 

Humans navigate personal and social relationships in the world through self-definition. Human nature is a capacious concept; one that has been challenged by diverse cultural revolutions in history. Today, as we stand at the crossroads of the human and the digital, technologies force us to reflect on how we view, create, and alter our selves through multiple media. As we enter the age of new media, and algorithms, the interpretations, perceptions, and representations of the self are continuously altered, while our identities become more fragile multiple and fluid.


Identities may be founded on varied cultural, biological, and physiological markers, but are also a source and product of social engagement, shared ideas, ideologies, and biases. Identities are both personal and social and are in the eternal process of construction. Our gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, disability, religion, nation, and age consistently intersect and interrupt our process of identity construction in media including print, broadcast, and social media.


How does the forging of multi-layered, complex identities materialize in traditional and new media? How does the cultural production of the self occur in literature, television, music, blogs, or digital technologies? How does the self break out of its essential boundaries through various practices of writing, and how does it come to be represented? How does it traverse the binaries of gender construction using technology? How does it penetrate barriers towards an intersectional identity building? How are bodies constructed differently in different media? How do masculinity and femininity as concepts of gender identity manifest on platforms? How does individual and collective identity building occur, and how does identity construction enable the use of various media for community development and social activism for communities?


Humanities as a discipline is always deeply reflective of the changing world order and is consistently tasked with redefining the notions of the self. We are keen to address this humanities framework in relation to identity politics, representation, and embodiment of the self on various media. To interrogate and investigate the complex relationships between narratives of self-production, and identity formation in media, The Department of Humanities invites abstract submissions for its annual conference on the theme Designing the Self. We invite proposals for papers from a variety of fields and perspectives that engage with issues including, but not limited to:

  • How does cultural production of the self occur in various forms of media?
  • How does (dis)embodiment occur on social media?
  • How do representations of gender, masculinity, or femininity occur in media?
  • How is intersectional identity constructed, and how does gender intersect with class, race, disability, religion, nation, and age as other factors if identity building?
  • How can we rethink diversity, intersectionality, and identity politics in the age of technology?
  • How does identity construction vary in different cultures and historical traditions?


Our two-day conference will address these and related topics. It will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 situation. We welcome proposals for 15-minute paper presentations. Those interested are invited to submit an abstract of 250 words to by 30 May 2020. Submissions must include the title of the paper, the author’s name, affiliation, and contact information. Applications must be accompanied by a short biography of 150 words.


For questions and inquiries, contact Nanditha Narayanamoorthy at