Bridges and Borders: Crossings in Language and Culture

deadline for submissions: 
February 11, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Carnegie Mellon University English Graduate Student Colloquia
contact email: 

Bridges and Borders: Crossings in Language and Culture

A Graduate Student Virtual Conference presented by the Carnegie Mellon University Department of English Colloquia with Keynote Speaker Lisa Lowe

April 15th and 16th


“Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar.” 

“Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks.”

Gloria Anzaldúa - This Bridge Called My Back


The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the already stark global inequities maintained through borders and bordering practices. Materially, physical barriers, biometric security measures, and racialized surveillance practices continue to proliferate at border crossings. But these borders are not fixed lines dividing geopolitical spaces, they move across geographies as ever-shifting entities with violent implications for those under their influence. Ideologically, borders execute power through law, language, and structural forces that restrict mobility, shape perception, and fuel xenophobia. When one crosses these material and immaterial borders, a bridge is built. A transgressive or fugitive act, bridge building, requires us to examine bordering practices and imagine new forms of coalition. 


What can we, as humanists, do in response to these national and cultural divisions that continue to marginalize? How do we resist the violence that national borders and bordering practices maintain? How might we cross boundaries that are arbitrarily maintained through neoliberal mechanisms of power? How do we imagine scholarship that bridges the divides between nations, communities, and disciplines? How do we interrogate literary and cultural representations of how borders shape understandings of nations, race, and gender?


We invite graduate students from a wide range of disciplines including, but not limited to, literary studies, rhetoric and composition, cultural studies, communications, and creative writing. We welcome proposals that consider the following keywords and concepts as they relate to borders and bridges:


  • Borders and COVID-19

  • Migration and mobility 

  • Representing the border in literature, film, photography, or art

  • Carcerality and fugitivity

  • Identity and marginalization 

  • Gender, sexuality, and borders

  • Borders of race and nation

  • Institutional power and transformation

  • Liminality and the space between borders

  • Bridges and borders in language 

  • Silence and refusal

  • Collectivity, mutuality, and reciprocity

  • Climate catastrophe and slow violence

  • Fluctuating negotiations between nations, cultures, and the environment

  • Crossing disciplinary boundaries

  • Bridging borders in the classroom


Submission Guidelines

Please submit abstracts of up to 250-word via the submission form or visit our website for more information. We welcome completed projects or works-in-progress drawn from coursework, dissertations, or independent research as individual or panel submissions as well as creative works related to the theme.