The International Auto/Biography Association

Chapter of the Americas Conference: May 15-17, 2017

Lives Outside the Lines: Gender and Genre in the Americas

A Symposium in Honour of Marlene Kadar

To be held at the Centre for Feminist Research, York University, Toronto.

We invite proposals for the third biennial meeting of IABA Americas that will be held at the Centre for Feminist Research in Toronto with support from the US Fulbright Program. The conference will explore the multiple lines that gendered lives in the Americas cross, both physical borders and intangible boundaries. The conference is dedicated to the celebration of the scholarship of Marlene Kadar, a Canadian theorist and critic whose contributions have dramatically changed the field by pushing the conceptual boundaries of what constitutes life writing and expanding its interdisciplinary methods of study.

The themes suggested below relate to and amplify Kadar’s research interests and are clustered around issues of gender and genre with special attention given to trauma and illness studies, archival methodologies, and transnational themes in the Americas. Potential subjects include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Gender in migration, dislocation, displacement, transit;
  • Gender constructions on and across borders;
  • Transnational and decolonial practices of gender and embodiment;
  • Intersectional interrogations of gender and sexuality with race, class, body size, health, and ability;
  • Fluidity of genders, sexualities, becoming bodies;
  • Bodes in extremis, bodies in pain, medicated bodies, permeable bodies;
  • Creativity and illness; living with life-threatening illness; living with death/dying;
  • End-of-life interview and (auto)pathographic genres;
  • Intimacies of health care biopower;
  • “Traumics” (comics of medical trauma, violence, abuse, and war);
  • Plasticity of life writing;
  • Hybrid forms and practices;
  • Multimedial and multimodal life writing;
  • Emerging genres (Instagram, selfie, I-doc, digital diary, etc.);
  • Secret as a genre, unpublished secrets;
  • Practices of testimony in multiple modes (oral, digital, photographic, film, documentary, writing);
  • Intersections of life writing and the life sciences;
  • Gendering and racializing the archives;
  • Sensorial and affective encounters in the archives;
  • Empathy, sympathy, and compassion;
  • Interdisciplinarity of archival work;
  • Methodological practices related to gender and genre; and,
  • Pedagogical intersections of gender and genre.

Please send 300-word abstracts with brief biographical statements as email attachments to the convenors: Eva C. Karpinski, York University [] and Ricia Anne Chansky, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez [] by October 31, 2016. Decisions will be made by January 15, 2017. Please be aware that space is limited. Inquiries are welcome.

The IABAA supports presenters’ rights to their own language preferences. While we do ask that abstracts be submitted in English or in English and a second language, we will assist with arranging translation for scholars who would like to present their papers in Spanish, Portuguese, or French.

Eva C. Karpinski is Associate Professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at York University, Toronto. She edited Pens of Many Colours: A Canadian Reader (3 editions). She is the author of Borrowed Tongues: Life Writing, Migration, and Translation (2012) and co-editor of Trans/Acting Culture, Writing, and Memory (2013). She edited a special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies on “Broken Dialogues.”

Ricia Anne Chansky is Associate Professor of Literature at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. She is the editor of the journal, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, and of three books: The Routledge Auto/Biography Studies Reader, Auto/Biography in the Americas: Relational Lives, and Auto/Biography across the Americas: Transnational Themes in Life Writing. She is a Fulbright Specialist in American Studies and the founder of the International Auto/Biography Association – Chapter of the Americas.

Marlene Kadar is a professor in the Department of Humanities and Gender and Women’s Studies at York University, Toronto. She has published extensively in the field of life writing, especially in relation to traumatic historical events, archival lives, and memory studies. Her 1992 essay on life writing as a critical practice is one of the first comprehensive attempts to theorize this genre. She has co-edited four volumes on life writing theory: Tracing the Autobiographical (2005); ARIEL: Life Writing in International Contexts (2008); Photographs, Histories, and Meanings (2009); and Working Memory: Women and Work in World War II (2015). She is the co-editor of Working in Women’s Archives (2001). She is the editor of the Life Writing Series at Wilfrid Laurier University Press.