(un)Masked

deadline for submissions: 
March 6, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Department of English 15th Annual Graduate Student Conference, University of Ottawa

The English Graduate Students’ Association (EGSA) solicits proposals for its upcoming Annual Graduate Student Conference. The EGSA invites proposals from graduate students, early career researchers, and established academics working in any discipline, period, or geographical region. The conference will take place bimodally on the 6th, 7th, and 8th of March, both in Ottawa and via Zoom. To present, please send a 250-word abstract and a short bio by January 10th, 2022 to uottawa.conference@gmail.com.

Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

-Oscar Wilde

            As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks and masking have become increasingly divisive topics. Questions of whether, when, and how to wear masks have come to the fore as individuals are asked to wear face coverings not for their own safety but for that of their community. Although the pandemic has necessitated the widespread use of medical masks, theatrical and social masks have always played a role in society. Masks function as instruments of safety, disguise, and dramaturgy, but equally as tools of social oppression. In his seminal Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon notably critiques the way in which colonial and white supremist groups constructed “blackness” as “wrongness.” In Red Skin, White Masks, Glen Coulthard continues to consider colonial violence and discusses the harm done to Indigenous communities when “reconciliation” becomes merely a performative mask.

For this year’s conference, the EGSA invites papers concerning both physical and social masks. Notably, we ask applicants to consider how masks are used as protective and social tools and to interrogate the ways in which identity can be constructed through disguise, evasion, and performativity.

 Potential topics can include but are not limited to the following:

            - The Pandemic                                               - False / hidden identity

            - Masking/unmasking                                     - Unveiling / close reading

            - Queer masks                                                 - Other selves

            - Neurodivergent masking                              - Performativity

            - Activism                                                       - Bystanderism / accountability

            - Whiteness as a mask                                    - Masking pain / disability studies

            - Ecology and climate change                        - Masks as costume / dress

            - Mask pollution

 For any questions, please contact our conference organizers at uottawa.conference@gmail.com.