“Crossing Genres, Crossing Borders”: Literature and Literary Criticism at the Junctions

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Indigenous Literary Studies Association
contact email: 





“Crossing Genres, Crossing Borders”:

Literature and Literary Criticism at the Junctions


A Gathering of the Indigenous Literary Studies Association


15 May – 18 May 2024


Inn at the Forks

Nestawaya (also known as The Forks), Wînipêk (Winnipeg), Manitowapow (Manitoba), Kanata (Canada) – located on Treaty One and the homeland of the Red River Métis


Indigenous literatures are dynamic, mobile, and complex expressions of the places and spaces they breathe and live, offering rich and differing aesthetics within their forms, knowledges, and perspectives while resisting the stringent boundaries of settler colonialism, modernity, racial capitalism, sexism, heteropatriarchy, and racism. Following this vein, it is crucial that Indigenous literary critiques offer approaches that encapsulate the fullness of their aesthetics while refusing the construction of arbitrary binaries which insist on separating orality from writing, history from art, and ontology from epistemology. Even while often theorized within rigid disciplinary fields, Indigenous literary production demands new theoretical, methodological, and practical approaches that incorporate multiple thematic and interdisciplinary narrative forms of engagement which, at once, echo Indigenous intellectualism and locate stories in times, places, and contexts in which Indigenous communities live.


For its tenth annual gathering, the Indigenous Literary Studies Association invites scholars, thinkers, artists and community members to gather at the meeting place of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak/Nêhiyawak, Anishininiwag (Oji-Cree), Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Dené, and Inuit Peoples and the homeland and birthplace of the Red River Métis. In one of the critical and creative centres of Indigenous life on Turtle Island (with the highest proportion of Indigenous peoples in Canada), conference attendees will collaborate and work alongside Indigenous writers, knowledge keepers, and artists at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers – a place called Nestaweya by the Cree (Three Points) and now known as The Forks – where they will be invited to “cross genres and cross borders” while creating and holding conversations on the potential of engaging in future relations across both Indigenous and settler communities. Here, we take inspiration from Kim Anderson, whose chapter on "Native Women, the Body, Land and Narratives of Contact and Arrival" reorients emphasis away from settler colonial "narratives of conquest and consumption" towards Indigenous Creation Stories as Indigenous Peoples' first contacts with this land (168). At the same time, the theme of "Crossing Borders and Genres" also recalls Melissa K. Nelson's "Getting Dirty"--"a messy, visceral, eco-erotic boundary-crossing entanglement of difference that can engender empathy and kinship and a lived environmental ethic" (232) – which in turn bespeaks the urgency of staying with the lived potential of interspecies diplomacies and agreements as they endure within and across plural forms of Indigenous storywork.


In particular, ILSA invites participants to consider the ways in which Indigenous literary arts provide tools for imagining literatures and embodying Indigenous-centred aesthetics. We welcome participants to consider literature and literary production in its multiple contexts and expansive dimensions – within Indigenous cultures and communities, between genres, across disciplinary lines, and among Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, scholars, and peoples. We also welcome participants to conceive of literary arts expansively and to initiate discussions which move across literature, film, theatre, storywork, song, hip hop, and other forms of narrative expression.


Prospective participants are invited to propose conference papers, panels, roundtables, workshops, performances, and other formats for special sessions. Some advice on format is found below. The gathering also features the annual Renate Eigenbrod Memorial Mentorship Lunch, which will informally but intentionally connect emerging artists and scholars with established mentors over food and drink; both mentors and mentees can register for the event on our website, www.Indigenousliterarystudies.org, under the Renate Eigenbrod Mentorship Lunch Tab. Questions can be directed to our outreach coordinator, Liv Abram, at Olivia.Abram@usask.ca.


Submission Details

ILSA invites the submission of Proposals for Participation and Biographical Statements to be submitted on our website by Friday, March 1, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. PST – but we may consider late submissions in special circumstances and if spots available. Note: ILSA is currently equipped to read proposals in French and English; we also welcome proposals for presentations either partially or fully in Indigenous languages and will work with presenters directly to discuss logistics. To guide all proposals, please follow the guidelines below:


Proposals for Participation

These 200-300 word proposals should animate ideas that you are currently working on or are eager to grapple with, particularly ones that are relevant to the themes outlined above. While some proposals may be aiming toward the production of individual academic essays, others may be more collaborative or formally innovative, encompassing creative work or embodied, experiential activities. Individuals may wish to ask the following questions when crafting their proposal:

  • What are the questions that prompt your research or creative intervention?
  • Which texts, concepts, and/or practices do you turn to in thinking them through?
  • While perhaps at an early stage of intervention, what argument, expression, or outcome do you expect from this work?

ILSA will also consider proposals for pre-formed panel presentations, roundtables, and/or workshops. These proposals should provide a panel abstract (200-300 words) and brief descriptions of presenter contributions (100-200 words). If you have specific requirements for your panel (AV, room layout, etc), please include these in a concluding paragraph with the header “room requirements”.



Poster Session

ILSA also invites posters! Research posters can share work on any topic relevant to the ILSA gathering and the 2024 theme. Poster presentations are intended to be interactive and should create opportunities for ILSA participants to exchange ideas in a more conversational setting. Posters are in no way considered lesser forms of presentation at ILSA conferences. They provide unique activation sites for gathering and visiting and they are often better suited to particular content types.


Biographical Statements

With your proposal, please submit a brief statement of relationship. Rather than a conventional biography that simply outlines your professional qualifications, please introduce yourself in terms of who you are in relation to Indigenous literary arts and scholarship. Why do you want to be a part of the 2024 gathering? What do you hope you will take away to integrate into your ongoing creative / scholarly / community engagements? This bio need not be longer than 200 words.


For questions related to the CFP or submission process, please email indigenouslsa@gmail.com.