Monday, January 14, 2013

Ready, set, go submit an abstract for the EGSA symposium!

Exciting news to kick off the semester!

In November, the EGSA symposium call for panels applying to our Failed Fixities theme was released, and many of our colleagues delivered with wonderfully generative and thought-provoking panel ideas. As a result, we have six panels this year, calling for a jam-packed and thought-filled conference on February 15. But now, we need you to submit your abstracts in response to these wonderful panels. Papers can be anything you have written and presented before; we just want to hear from across the department to see what our colleagues are working on! You can of course feel free to write something new for the symposium, but do not feel as if you have to. If you are not sure that your paper idea fits with any of the proposed panels, send your abstract to Molly Lewis at with the subject line "EGSA Abstract" and we will try to find a place for you. All abstracts will be due by midnight on January 28.

Below you will find five of the six amazing panel submissions...we are so excited to see what you all come up with!

Temporal Slippages and Spatial Slidings: A Symposium on Failed Fixities

“Worlding” (Gillman & Gruesz, 226) the Postcolonial
 Organizer: Sreyoshi Sarkar,

     Besides functioning on a temporal plane of signification the “post” in “postcolonial” is invigorating in its enquiries into substitute/alternative ways of narration, historicization and governance that critique, contest and better, imposed colonial systems of the same. In thinking through these alternative discourses, postcolonial texts – theory, fiction and non-fiction, prose and poetry, films, music and online archives – have continually set into motion brilliant conversations amongst resistive and restructuring imaginaries at sites as different and complex as Africa, South Asia, the South East, the Middle East and even South America. Thus, postcolonial theory readers have the essential Said, Bhabha, Appiah, Mohanty, Hall and Suleri texts towards developing a useful postcolonial critical lens, Cherian Dabis’ Amreeka about the trials and travails of a post-9/11 Arab family in IIlionois recalls those of the Takahashi family in 1942 (“Family 8108” – Cold Case Season 11) in Japanese-American internment camps and Palestinian and Arab-American bands take up the cause of Palestinian self-determination while setting their lyrics to the rhythms of African-American hip hop.
    This panel invites papers exploring just such a “worlding” of postcolonial discourse as processes of globalization continue to forge uneasy links across the world that affect and inflect not only local, national and international politics and economics but also war and non-war, lifestyles, cultures and countercultures, patterns of exploitation and displacements of marginalized populations. What do such discursive networks of the postcolonial hope to achieve? Do they enable more useful and evolving resistance to imperialist hegemonies as they are instituted, resisted and transformed? What might be the possible oversights and downfalls of such a critical lens? Looking forward to engaging in these and more conversations at sites of the intertextual, cross-thematic, trans-spatial, trans-temporal and trans-linguistic in diverse postcolonial texts and in different media, this panel hopes to approach, in effect, an ethics of the postcolonial in a contemporary world of the global. Please submit abstracts of 250 words to Sreyoshi Sarkar at 

Spectral Encounters
Organizer: Emily Russell,

           “75% of Americans believe that there are events that take place that cannot be explained. Over half of these people believe they have experienced paranormal events themselves. The identity of some of these people may surprise you.” These words slowly fade in and out like a misty message as an eerie soundtrack plays at the beginning of each episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories, an hour-long weekly show on the bio channel in which celebrities share their personal haunted experiences. Some are disturbing while others are rather sweet, though the aesthetic of the show never varies much – crackly recordings, old photos, images that skip across the screen in sepia tones. Celebrities are not the only ones telling their ghost stories to reality TV audiences. In an episode of My Ghost Story, another show on the bio channel, a man looks into the camera and explains in detail how he first became aware that the ghost of a past owner haunts the hotel he has recently purchased. A glass slid off of the counter. A distinct perfume wafted from an unseen source. The radio unexpectedly switched stations.
This panel seeks to explore the fuzzifying effect of spectral encounters – the sensory and agentive blurring that happens when a cup seems to tip of its own accord or a sound rings from a bell, unrung.  Presenters are encouraged to interpret this theme very liberally. Some possible topics are ghostly aesthetics in pop culture/reality tv, haunted/haunting posthumanisms, agentive objects and other spectral encounters that defy sensory, personal, agentive borders. Please submit 250 word abstracts to Emily Russell at

Dissecting the Gaze: Corporeality, Spectacle, and Performance in the Theater
Organizer: Kadie Groh,

     In “Bodies Unseen: The Early Modern Anatomical Theatre and the Danse Macabre of Theatrical ‘Looking,’” Natalie Alvarez theorizes practices of display and gazing in relation to Early Modern anatomical theaters, which turned postmortem examinations and dissections into a spectator sport. These anatomical theaters mirrored other theaters in many ways, even going so far as to include refreshments. In these spaces, the fictional or performative and the “real” collapsed: all bodies became recipients of a spectatorial gaze, and were exposed and displayed for the sake of entertainment. Alvarez attempts to “consider the body on display in the anatomical theatre as an opportunity to investigate potential models of theatrical reception in the onlooker’s encounter with the body. The concentrated atmosphere of the anatomical theatre with the insentient body occupying centre stage is organized around an invitation to look.” Alvarez’s argument highlights that there is not a “static relationship between the viewer and the body,” regardless of the fact that corpses in anatomical theaters are relegated to one location. However, her work focuses entirely on human corpses in anatomical theaters. What happens when bodies as subjects of the spectatorial gaze refuse to remain at a safe distance, or even to remain still and/or dead, as in many Early Modern theatrical performances?
     Dissection, representation, and spectacle, as well as the spectatorial gaze, appear in many plays and other non-theatrical spaces.  Alvarez references art which attempts to represent these anatomical theatrical “performances,” such as Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson (1632). She turns her own spectatorial gaze on “how the onlooker’s experience of the body on display is shaped by the dynamic of its encodings in representation.” This panel hopes to explore just such issues of embodiment and dissection through the lens of disability studies. Some questions this panel hopes to explore are: How might this long-standing tradition of displaying non-normate or fragmented bodies (whether human corpses, human actors, or stage props) give us insight into theoretical discourses about disability, performance, aesthetics, and spectacle? How do modern prosthetics or donated organs factor into this discussion? How might questions of dissection and spectacle be applied to Postcolonial literature and race, perhaps in relation to stereotyping? What’s the relationship between the viewers, the “performers” (bodies or prosthetic wearers), and the parts or prosthetics themselves? How do parts or prosthetics, or representations of them, resist or subvert the spectatorial gaze?
     This panel welcomes papers from any time period and concentration, and looks for papers that cover a wide range of topics and concentrations, including but not limited to Disability Studies, Critical Race Theory, Subaltern studies, Queer Theory, Gender/Sexuality studies, Feminism, Object-Oriented Ontology, Cyborg Theory, etc.
     Submit paper abstracts to with the subject line “EGSA: Dissecting the Gaze.”
Alvarez, Natalie. "Bodies Unseen: The Early Modern Anatomical Theatre and the Danse Macabre of Theatrical   
     "Looking"" Janus Head (n.d.): 35-49. Web. <>.

Racial Hauntings: Specters of Citizenship and the Fantasy of National Identity
Co-organizers: Maia Gil’Adi and Molly Lewis, and

In Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticism, and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century United States, Russ Castronovo states: “As both corporeal fact and political metaphor, death produces bodies whose materiality disturbs the impersonality of citizenship, but whose remove from sociopolitical life also idealizes the unhistorical and abstract nature of state identity. Death, then, structures political life in terms of aversion as well as desire” (1). This panel will explore the ways in which the social formations of national identity is erased from our narrative of citizenship and belonging, in favor of a particular peoples “natural” claims to the nation. Those who do not fit within these national identities cannot gain access to this narrative and are thus pushed outside of it--Others are created and conceived within the national discourse (to which they don’t have access) as outside of national progression. These Others are racialized, innately and biologically made different to corporeally display difference; a difference that concentrated on the body is neither acknowledged or erased from national discourse.
This panel wishes to survey those outside of this progression, in a phenomenon that Hortense Spiller crystallizes as the ways in which the ethnicized subject “freezes in meaning, takes on constancy, assumes the look and the affects of the Eternal.” We want to engage with the specters of nation that are simultaneously essential and impossible to the idea of nation, to explore what is lost when a national identity is formed at the expense of alternative populations and identities. In this panel, we hope to explore the following questions: How is a communal national history created through the formation of racialized identities? How are history and nation always already marked by death and racial difference? How are racialized identities of a specific place and time, and yet eternal? How does silence, erasure, death and abjection reappear and haunt the present, invoking the impossibility of erasure and death? In what ways do these racialized identities display themselves in physical manifestations of pain and sufferings? How do these ghosts of race emerge in political, social, and cultural aspects of the nation?
              We welcome abstracts for papers that are cross-disciplinary and time periods that explore the function of race and death in the formation of national histories and identities. Relevant topics and theoretical lenses might include, but are not limited to: race theory, queer theory, postcolonialism, nationalism/nationality, historicity, abjection, citizenship, slavery, haunting identities, narrative, genocide, religious persecution, and language/linguistics. Send abstracts of 250 words or less to or with “Racial Hauntings CFP” as the subject.

The Full-Blown Sails of Empire:  Travel, Imperial Exceptionalism, and Anxieties of Cultural Inferiority
Organizer: Patrick Thomas Henry,

In Dislocating Race and Nation (2008), Robert S. Levine contends that nineteenth-century American writers had a vested interest in penning narratives to ease their fears of British influence:  “the emergence of a great national literature would help to ease Americans’ anxieties about their cultural inferiority to Great Britain while signaling the new nation’s republican values and potentially glorious future.” This performance occurs in the nautical ventures in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno; the eponymous seafarers represent American individualism to (for Pym) Antarctic savages and (for Cereno) mutinous slaves unwilling to accept American republican values.  Depicting Americans as the apex of political evolution, such nationalist literatures employ characters’ transits and metaphoric language to revise reality and to mollify an implied anxiety of national and cultural inferiority.
This project is not unique to the nineteenth-century nautical adventure novel, but is instead germane to the imperial projects of English and American letters across periods.  As such, this panel welcomes abstracts for papers that explore the function of travel in asserting a national identity during any era, while likewise investigating how those journeys address the anxiety of looming foreign powers and how this destabilizes myths of imperial exceptionalism.  Relevant ports of entry include, but certainly are not limited to, the following theoretical lenses:  postcolonialism, Orientalism, historicism, critiques of economic expansion, scientific inquiry, pilgrimage, and so on.  Send abstracts of 250 words or less to, with “Sails of Empire Abstract” as the subject.

1.  Robert S. Levine, Dislocating Race and Nation:  Episodes in Nineteenth-Century Literary Nationalism.  (Chapel Hill:  U of North Carolina P, 2008), 3.

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