Recuperating Joy: Symbiotic Connections, Optimisms, and Unproblematic Faves

deadline for submissions: 
February 13, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Carleton English Graduate Student Society


Recuperating Joy: Symbiotic Connections, Optimisms, and Unproblematic Faves

Department of English Graduate Virtual Conference

Carleton University

8-9 May 2021


“Take joy in your digressions. Because that is where the unexpected arises.”

-        Brian Massumi


Carleton University’s English Graduate Student Society invites papers and presentation proposals which evoke, unpack, and recuperate joy as both an affective state and an act of struggle or resistance. This conference will consider how joy has been reimagined, reclaimed, and conjured in the zeitgeist of different times, places, and communities. How has joy been mobilized as a means of organizing cultural thinking and engagement? How has joy been galvanized as an act of resistance and entwined with struggles over utopian futures? What role does joy play in the deliberate and often revolutionary reimagining of our social, economic, or political conditions in the face of white supremacy, climate emergency, and economic scarcity? What affects and effects do acts or moments of joy have on our sense of self, our sense of time, our sense of place, or our sense of well-being?


This conference aims to act as a locus point where papers from all disciplines that grapple with joy, recuperation, utopian imaginaries, and reclamation can converge. Joy offers itself as an affective experience empowered by diffusion; or, as Mark Twain put it, “to get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” Thus, we can understand joy not only as affective but also as constructive, connective, and utopic. As Ann Cvetkovich suggests, it is crucial to make the distinction between affect and emotion because “the former signals recognitive sensory experience and relations to surroundings, and the latter cultural constructs and conscious processes that emerge from there, such as anger, fear, and joy.” Within this framework, how can we imagine joy not as a narrowly defined emotive state but instead as a collective, affective mode for connection, community, struggle, and change. How has joy been mobilized as an affective experience in different time periods (medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment) and for what purposes? How has the relationship to and with joy been imagined and experienced across varying geographic and political conditions? Where has joy been contested and where has joy been an act of heroism? How has the freedom to experience or access joy been rationed or restricted based on race, gender, sexuality, identity, or economic status? And how has joy been instrumental to the formation and maintenance of community groups and spaces?


But more than a conference that is interested in papers that foreground and center joy as part of research, the Carleton University’s English Graduate Student Society is also looking for papers that are the labours and productions of joyful research. If you have a paper that is about a topic that inspires, captivates, or enriches you personally, we are happily taking submissions on this basis as well. In this same vein, we are also interested in creative pieces outside of the traditional structures of a conference paper – a short video, a painting, a performative piece, or any other work of art – and encourage submissions.

Defining “joy” as an affective practice which is experienced and accessed differently depending on a plethora of social, historical, cultural, geographic, and political conditions, this conference encourages submissions from graduate students of all disciplines. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

➢    The history, present, and future of activism that opens up places for, and refuses to concede, joy

➢    Topics and texts which have become centers, and center us in spaces, of joy

➢    Indigenous, queer, feminist, or racial reclaiming or rewriting

➢    Speculative fiction, modality, and the construction of utopic ideas

➢    Joy as an act of resistance to capitalism, globalization, and their consequences

➢   Pedagogical constructions – centering joy in the classroom

➢    Joy in the art of noticing multispecies connectivity as we think about climate change, and the Anthropocene

➢    Politics, culture, and the disparity of joys

➢    Your own personal, joyful topic of research, study, or creative inspiration


Please submit proposals of 250-350 words along with a brief (~150 words) bio to by February 13th, 2021. Since our conference this year will be conducted virtually, in your proposal please include one of the following statements: 1) I would prefer my presentation be presented asynchronously as a video or audio presentation posted to the website; 2) I would prefer my presentation be presented synchronously to a live audience; or 3) I have no preference as to whether my presentation is asynchronous or synchronous. We will notify applicants by February 28th, 2021.