(In)visible Borders: Narrating Centers & Peripheries

deadline for submissions: 
February 18, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Universté de Montreal / English Graduate Students' Society

Conversations concerned with borders often address the extent of geopolitics, the anthropocene, and the techno-industrial. Yet, “the meaning of the word border has progressively changed from a fact of nature to a cultural, political, and ideological product of human will (Power 6-13; Harvey). Natural frontiers do not exist either in a topographical or in a linguistic sense, and the self-conscious linking of place and identity is quite a modern phenomenon” (Spiridon 376). The fluidity of spaces and frontiers becomes a central concern for a wide range of hitherto disconnected fields, opening up to a conversation on the role of such formations as locations of simultaneous cohesion and separation that defy conventional understandings of space, history, and culture. Borders are consequently understood as metaphysical constructs that bring to light topics that inherently seek to escape confinement and definition, such as one’s relation to a widely-constructed environment. Imagining this conference as an intervention in an era marked by both awareness and incomprehension of how one fits into various modes of being within “structure and agency, mind and body, consciousness and the unconscious, the disciplined and the transdisciplinary, everyday life and unending history” (Soja 57), the organizers invite scholars to think about how literature (and other cultural productions) address the communicative nature of various (in)visible borders - the planetary, ecology, memory, history - and the way that humans operate within or transcend them.

Our conference seeks to highlight how, in a variety of cultural imaginaries, the worlds around us are (perhaps contradictorily) coalescing to form infinite possibilities of movement, memory, and epistemology which help shape our perception of borders and various representations within them. To that end, we invite students to explore works of literature, film, or visual arts that reflect upon the following questions:How is a border theorized?What are the unexplored ways in which bordering emerges in literature and how does it contribute to our understanding of a (meta)physical existence?How is the critical impulse itself an exercise in overcoming these ecological, social, historical barriers, of engaging in exchange?How can narratives involving imagined divisions inform ontological questions about being and becoming? Finally, what does it mean to interact with the environment via operations where reality becomes concretely abstract?

The English Graduate Student Society (EGSS) at the Université de Montréal invites graduate students working in English or French on the notion of borders and ecology from various disciplinary perspectives to submit papers for presentation at our annual graduate conference. Papers can consider a multitude of topics, ranging from bodies, the environment, phenomenology, gender politics, (dis)location, sensory experiences, and processes of othering, to specific historical periods, themes, and genres such as the Victorian era, environmental writing, fictional depictions of borders, modernist fragmentation, procedural/experimental writing, etc.

Submissions can come from a range of disciplines including: supernatural studies, pop-culture studies, speculative fiction, sci-fi, realism, surrealism, poetics, period studies, disability studies, gender studies, ethnic and indigenous studies, non-canonical genres (graphic novels, fanfiction, etc.), queer studies, literary and cultural theory, digital humanities, film and visual arts, as well as other disciplines relevant to the fields.

We are asking those interested in delivering 15 to 20-minute presentations to submit abstracts of no more than 250 words by February 18, 2022. Please submit your application through the survey at the following link: https://forms.gle/wq8GDyZR4C2nDmB78. For any queries, please feel free to email the organization committee at egss.conferences@gmail.com for more information.

 

Works Cited

Soja, Edward. Thirdspace, Blackwell, 1996, pp. 57.

Spiridon, Monica. “Identity Discourses on Borders in Eastern Europe.” Comparative Literature, vol. 58, no. 4, [Duke University Press, University of Oregon], 2006, pp. 376–86, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40279349.