Orientation: This Way, That way, and the Other

deadline for submissions: 
March 3, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Queen's Graduate Conference in Literature

The Graduate English Society at Queen’s University seeks abstracts for its hybrid 2023 graduate conference, “Orientation: This Way, That Way and the Other.” In addition to academic conference papers, we are looking for creative pieces that engage with the broad concept of orientation in various and imaginative ways.

We ask potential contributors to consider how one or more of the possible interpretations of the term “orientation” figures into their academic or creative work, our world today, and the study of English literature. Sara Ahmed addresses what it means to be oriented in her 2006 monograph, Queer Phenomenology. She asks how our orientations cultivate spaces that shape the horizons of our lives. We are oriented when we understand our position relative to other positions; likewise, we orient ourselves by turning towards things. In other words, orientation is about becoming familiar with spaces. It is easiest to imagine this idea of spaces as physical, but they can be ideological and social, too. Even when not describing physical spaces, we tend to use language that mirrors how we describe inhabiting physical spaces. For example, people are on the political left, right, or centre; heterosexuals are "straight" and everyone else is not. How does the language of orientation evolve?

We encourage unique and diverse approaches to understanding orientation as it relates to literature. How much does one’s orientation determine or alter identity? What is at stake when one becomes psychologically, emotionally, or geographically disoriented? How do texts disorient their readers? In what way does the language of orientation forge and maintain relationality? Amidst disorientation, how do we become reoriented? Creative submissions are invited to answer any of the aforementioned questions as well as consider how, in either form or content, they are agents of orientations, disorientation, and reorientation. These creative works can come in any form: short stories, poetry, fragments, video essays, music, etc.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Sexual, political, cultural, or ideological (re)orientation
  • Geographical (dis)orientation; how we are orientated towards home, lost orientation in exile or displacement, and forced orientation in displacement
  • Anti-racist and decolonial practices as (dis/re)orientating
  • Emotional orientation ("finding your north star," so to speak)
  • (Dis)orientation and gender: performativity, drag, dysphoria, etc.
  • Formal disorientation: absurdism, the avant-garde, incoherence, etc. 
  • Formal orientation: genre, form, archetypes, etc. 
  • Re-orientation: rethinking ideas and/or changing direction
  • Orientation as an introduction to something new
  • Orientation and sociality: friends and foes, in or out groups
  • Orientations as real or constructed

Academic presentations will be 15 to 20 minutes long. Abstracts between 200-300 words can be submitted via the following Google form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc-i23X8T_dclDCbzUUiwrZ72XiVhOXXk_-czDTmYoLWaE82A/viewform?usp=sf_link

We ask that creative submissions span no more than 6,000 words or 15 minutes total. Applicants must upload a complete copy of their submission in PDF format, including a title, to the google form linked above. Accepted entrants will participate in a creative writing night to read their works, or excerpts from their works, along with other authors and conference participants.

The Queen’s Graduate Conference in Literature will be a hybrid conference held on the weekend of May 20th, 2023. All applicants will be asked to submit a brief biography including their institutional affiliation (75-100 words). 

Abstracts and creative submissions will be accepted until March 3rd 2023. If you have any questions about the conference, please write to queensgraduateconference@gmail.com