(In)habit - Graduate English Conference

deadline for submissions: 
January 27, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
University of Toronto, Graduate English Association


Conference Date: April 25, 2023|Abstracts Due: January 27, 2023*


 In Queer Phenomenology, Sara Ahmed writes, “The work of inhabiting space involves a dynamic negotiation between what is familiar and unfamiliar, such that it is still possible for the world to create new impressions, depending on which way we turn, which affects what is within reach.” Ahmed’s influential text on orientation and phenomenology in relation to queer sexuality offers a generative theoretical framework for thinking through issues of how we inhabit space as sexualized, racialized, and otherwise embodied subjects. Indeed, as we transition out of the defamiliarized virtual conditions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we live in an increasingly hybrid world where we exist both as physical and digital presences, further complicating the matter of inhabitance, of navigating what is or is not familiar. Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre similarly reminds us that “representations of space … have a substantial role and a specific influence in the production of space,” suggesting that our own habits—literary or otherwise—produce and are produced by the spaces we inhabit.

The verb “inhabit” might invite us to reflect on how we exist both as individuals and in relation to others. What, for example, does it mean to inhabit an identity or a particular kind of body? How does one inhabit a nation as an immigrant? What are the politics, ethics, affects, and narratives of inhabiting another's land as a settler or in having one's land forcefully inhabited by others? Split into its prefix and root, to be “in habit” opens other avenues of inquiry. As a noun, “habit” might refer to a garment, behaviour, or routine. How and why do we wear specific habits, both in the “real world” and on the stage? How are habits as behaviours and routines informed by concepts such as identity, psychology, and culture?

Emphasizing questions about space, routine, and embodiment, the Graduate English Association at the University of Toronto invites conference papers on habits and inhabiting. We welcome submissions across disciplines. Approaches may include but are not limited to:

  • Aesthetics
  • Affect theory
  • Audiences studies
  • Archives, research, and pedagogy
  • Creative practices
  • Critical race theory
  • Drama, drag, and performance
  • Disability studies
  • Ecocriticism and environmental humanities
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Health humanities
  • Indigenous studies
  • (Post)colonial theory
  • Phenomenology
  • Queer theory


(In)habit will be a hybrid in-person/virtual event. We encourage presenters to attend in-person, if possible. Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words and a brief bio of 50 words to uoftenglishconference2023@gmail.com. Please indicate in your email whether you would intend to present in-person or remotely.


*Extended deadline--original deadline January 2, 2023.