Empowerment and the Arts: How the Humanities Empower Humanity

deadline for submissions: 
February 25, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Association of English Graduate Instructors and Students (AEGIS)
contact email: 

Graduate Conference in English and the Humanities

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

April 1st, 2023

Conference will be held virtually, via Zoom. There is no registration fee for this conference.


There is power in the written word. It can take us on journeys, convey the nuanced as well as the palpable, and compel us to feel. It can also empower us to act, to challenge, and to overcome.

Writing can be a form of claiming – or reclaiming – our time, our space, and our voice. It’s an opportunity to fight feelings of powerlessness —Susan Taylor


There have been many studies on how the arts empower student voice and engagement. Within the fields of creative writing, literature, rhetorical and compositional studies, empowerment is vital for intellectual discourse leading to passionate arguments. How we connect, produce, and interact with writing and research changes depending on how we understand the importance of our voice within it. Several authors and teachers have attributed their creative and academic success to when they discovered the ability to empower others through their voice.


Our fifteenth annual AEGIS Conference invites graduate students to consider the ways in which empowerment appears and is possible through the production and consumption of literature, visual art, rhetoric and composition studies, creative writing, and/or other disciplines. How do we see authors, artists, scholars, and others incorporate empowerment in their writing? How do Humanities instructors consider the empowerment of their students’ ideas in the classroom or in their own pedagogical beliefs? How does empowerment allow for cross-cultural connection and critique?


Our keynote speaker, Britny Cordera, a poet, nonfiction writer, and emerging journalist who investigates the intersections between environment, climate change, and (pop) culture. Cordera was a finalist for the 2020 Narrative 30 Below contest. Her work (poetry and nonfiction) can be found or is forthcoming in Grist Fix, The New Territory, Rhino, Narrative, and PANK. She received her MFA from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.


Each paper, reading or presentation should be roughly 15 minutes in length. Although panels will be limited to the following overarching categories, we welcome papers and creative writing on a range of topics within English and the Humanities including interdisciplinary papers from History, Communications, Philosophy, Theatre, Education, Fine Arts, and Foreign Language studies. 


Rhetoric and Composition Studies​​​​​American Literature

British Literature​​​​​​​Humanities 

Poetry (Reading)​​​​​​​Fiction (Reading)

Please send individual abstracts (for scholarly/academic papers) or synopses (for poetry/fiction reading panels) to Michaela Zelie at Michaela.zelie@siu.edu attach your submission to the email as a Microsoft Word document or PDF format. Abstracts are due by February 25th, 2023.