Southwest Humanities Symposium 2021: Normalcy and un/non/dis/abnormalcy

deadline for submissions: 
December 18, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Graduate Scholars of English Association, Arizona State
contact email: 

Southwest Humanities Symposium 2021: Normalcy and un/non/dis/abnormalcy

Online Graduate Conference, February 26-27, 2021

Graduate Scholars of English Association, Arizona State University

Proposals due December 18, 2020

“‘Getting lost’ still takes us somewhere; and being lost is a way of inhabiting space by registering what is not familiar: being lost can in its turn become a familiar feeling [...] The familiar is an effect of inhabitance; we are not simply in the familiar, but rather the familiar is shaped by actions that reach out toward objects that are already within reach.”

Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology , p. 7

“What happens when instead of becoming enraged and shocked every time a Black person is killed in the United States, we recognize Black death as a predictable and constitutive aspect of this democracy? What will happen then if instead of demanding justice we recognize (or at least consider) that the very notion of justice…produces and requires Black exclusion and death as normative?”

João Costa Vargas & Joy James, “Refusing Blackness-as-Victimization,” p. 193

There has been much mention of a ‘new normal’—how the pandemic, social, economic, and political unrest have ruptured something that felt contiguous, and, in the ensuing disarray, how things are beginning to accrete (or not) into recognizable, new forms. GSEA calls for work that asks: What is ‘normal’? We seek writing, research, and art that engages with issues of the normal, broadly and specifically. This may be an exploration of the pedagogical methods available to us, to the phenomenological sense of normalcy, familiarity, homeliness, and (dis)comfort, to the sociopolitical sense of normativity required by the structure of the world, and to the extent of arranging things that we ‘turn towards’ and are ‘within reach’ that might be familiar (but are no longer ‘normal’ or familiar). As we take stock of the distinguishable and indistinguishable, the legible and illegible in our surroundings, selves, and world(s), what do we see? How do we see? What do we want to see? How and where might we go from here? What is normal, normative, normalcy, normativity? What is the relationship between ‘normal’ and history, ‘normal’ and language, ‘normal’ and justice? Normalcy and resistance to normalcy likely appear in all of our work and lived experiences, and we invite participants to explore the effects of the normal in their writing, research, and art that may not be explicitly aimed at doing so.

Lead us, and join us through an invocation of the normal.

We welcome proposals for individual papers, panels, creative projects, and digital exhibits from disciplines across the humanities that approach the conference theme in many ways. Proposals for papers, creative projects, and digital exhibits should be 250-300 words; panel proposals (3-4 speakers) should be no more than 750 words, describing the theme of the panel and each paper.

Proposals are due by December 18, 2020 at the following link:

Any questions about the conference or proposals should be directed to the official conference email at . We look forward to sharing in discussions and disruptions of normal!