Boundary, Abyss, Horizon: Rethinking “Frontier” in Literature and Culture

deadline for submissions: 
February 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Eric Smith/University of Alabama in Huntsville
contact email: 

Keynote Speaker: Carolyn Lesjak (Simon Fraser University)

“Frontiers” denote unknown spaces and landscapes where intellectual, cultural, historical, social events, and advancements take place or are imagined taking place, especially at the expense of others. As a signifier, then, “frontier” subsumes concepts of boundary and border pertaining to political incursion or displacement. It gestures towards the interplay of what is known and what could be known, while begging us to consider the processes--forceful acquisition or cultural advancement—that afford us such knowledge. Our conference seeks papers that parse the many literary and linguistic uses of “frontier”--whether as landscape or theoretic concept, as intellectual borderland or political abyss. We welcome scholars in literature and writing studies and we, further, invite representations of frontiers in original creative writing works. We invite panelists to Huntsville, Alabama, a city that instantiates the complexities of “frontier,” sitting on the Drane Route of The Trail of Tears and known as the “Rocket City” as the home of NASA and its advancements in space exploration and technology. Send 250-word abstracts via email to Eric Smith ( by February 15, 2023.

Conference dates: April 7-8, 2023

Papers may include consideration of "frontier" and frontier concepts in topics such as, but not limited to, the following:

Comics/graphic novels

Critical race theory

Cultural studies


Film and television

Gender and sexuality studies

Genre studies


Literary studies (any historical period or geographic focus)


Performance studies


Postcolonial studies

Psychoanalytic criticism

Queer theory and/or studies

Religious studies

Science and medicine

Science and technology

Science Fiction

Utopia/Dystopia studies

Visual arts and art history