CFP: “Exploring I–Lands: Borders, Identity and Myth,” March 16-18, 2012

The University of Virginia Department of English Graduate Conference seeks paper proposals from graduate students in all disciplines. Featured speakers will be Lorna Goodison and Jahan Ramazani. Abstracts are due January 21, 2012.

“Exploring I–Lands: Borders, Identity and Myth”

March 16-18, 2012

Borders abide and abound—between disciplines, between languages, between periods, between persons, between genders, between communities, between generations, between the self and the world. They define us in both liberating and limiting ways. This conference will investigate how borders and barriers are made, broken and refashioned, giving special attention to individual and national identities and the mythologies that inform them. Just how impermeable are such borders? Is there an unshakeable human drive to draw them?

Other possible topics:

  • How much is too much? Where does the line fall between satisfaction and satiety?
  • What is the use of musical boundaries (a/tonality, bar-lines, etc.)?
  • What are the limits of genre? If genres bend and break, are they still
    useful terms for describing works of art?
  • How do myth and folktales constitute the geographic and cultural
    boundaries of the nation? Of the self?
  • How do we define the self? The function of the lyric “I”?
  • What is the role of landscapes (physical, emotional, or otherwise) in constructing identity?
  • What is the nature of linguistic barriers—the task of translation?
  • What is the fate of class or racial boundaries?
  • What is the interpretive significance of paratextual borders (margins, gutters, etc.)
  • How is digitization changing our understanding of all the above?

Keynote Speaker: Lorna Goodison

Lorna Goodison is a Jamaican poet who teaches creative writing at the University of Michigan. She has published eleven poetry collections; her second, I Am Becoming My Mother, won the 1986 Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Americas region. Her work often confronts Jamaica’s colonial history and its linguistic and cultural implications, exemplified by the code-switching between Standard English and Creole that occurs in many of her poems. She both celebrates Jamaica’s cultural hybridity and reclaims traumatic aspects of its history by presenting nuanced character portraits of its marginalized denizens. Her most recently published work is a memoir titled From Harvey River (2008).

Masterclass Speaker: Jahan Ramazani

Jahan Ramazani is the Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He is the editor of the third edition of the Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry (2003) and the recipient of the American Comparative Literature Association’s 2011 Harry Levin Prize for his book A Transnational Poetics (2009). His interests include modern and contemporary poetry and postcolonial studies.

This conference is interdisciplinary, and we welcome submissions from a variety of fields including but not limited to: Anthropology, Art and Art History, Psycho/geography, Literature, Mathematics, Music/ology, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, and the sciences. To submit, send an abstract (up to 350 words) for your 15-minute presentation to by Jan 21, 2012. Please specify your name, institutional affiliation, and any technological needs.


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