Location: Western University, London, Ontario
Organization: MLL Graduate Student Conference
Western University invites you to take up the topic: Toxic/cities at the 19th Annual Graduate Student Conference, to be held from March 2-4, 2017 in London, Ontario, Canada.
Historically, the city has been considered a place of civilization, modernity, opportunity. But for many people the city is also a site of exploitation, excretion, and contamination. Millions of immigrants flocked to Ellis Island with the hopes of finding a better life in New York City; however, for many, the American Dream was shattered by the reality that the city can be monstrous and barbaric. Spanish author García Lorca wrote in his poem “The Dawn:” “The light is buried under chains and noises / in impudent challenge of rootless science. / Through the suburbs sleepless people stagger, / as though just delivered from a shipwreck of blood.” While some successfully navigate this darkness, many people encounter a place full of toxins and decay. A city that is both living and dead.
As Italo Calvino puts it in the last part of Invisible Cities, “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.” The city, like an organism, is permeable and vulnerable to the very toxins it produces. People inhabiting toxic spaces can revel in this darkness or try to resist it. Decay itself can be revitalizing or lethal; dead communities can come alive. Conversely, the liveliest of communities can succumb to toxins and die.
This conference seeks to examine literary, historical, and theoretical investigations of toxicity in spaces, including but not limited to cities, suburbs, countrysides, or imaginary spaces. Topics for discussion include notions of abjection in literature and theory, contamination of language and degradation through translation, garbage art, indigenous eco-visions, rabid consumerism, scientific fallout, and disposable cultures. We encourage submissions from across these disciplines: literary and cultural theory, cultural studies, digital humanities, linguistics, film studies, visual arts, history, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy. We invite submissions on:
a. Authors, languages, theories, cultures, texts, films, and artworks that depict contamination or decay.
b. Decay in communication caused by literary, linguistic and cultural barriers, silence, censorship, semantic ambiguity, practices and cultures of ineffective language acquisition.
c. Toxic consequences of:
i. language evolution and variation, dialect contact, language attrition.
ii. birth of monstrosity, mutation, madness, mad science.
iii. the pharmakon, dark vitalism/ecology, immunitary logics
d. Recovery from periods of decline and decay (coming out of toxic environments).
2. (Toxic) City
a. Studies of spaces including but not limited to urban, suburban, rural, or imaginary spaces from a variety of approaches such as ecocriticism, sustainability, digital humanities, the Anthropocene, dystopian theory, etc.)
b. The collapse or metamorphosis of religious institutions, political systems, social values, or economic policies that are in decay.
c. Resistance to decay, ways of expressing resistance, autopoeisis as counter-discourse, immunization / inoculation, coping mechanisms, resolutions to toxic issues, positive visions of social cohesion.
d. Decay as productive of underground networks of communication and speculative theory,
Related fields and topics may include:
Feminist studies Utopia/Dystopia
Cultural studies Petro-fiction
Queer studies The post-human
Ethnic studies Experimental arts
Indigenous studies The DarkWeb
Disability studies Post-colonialism
Creative Writing / Expressions
We are asking those interested in delivering 15 to 20-minute presentations to submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 2, 2016. Please include your name, paper keywords, institutional affiliation, technical requirements, and a 50-word bio in your email. Abstracts and presentations in English, Spanish and French are welcome, and selected papers will be published in The Scattered Pelican, a peer-reviewed journal run by students of the comparative literature program, after the conference. *We are also accepting original artwork in the form of video, photography, visual arts, sound art and poetry. For more information, including submission guidelines for artworks, please visit www.uwotoxicityconference.wordpress.com.