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The 2010 York English Graduate Students’ Association Colloquium will be Undressing the Bawdy, 14-15 May 2010. This is entirely off topic for me, but I reckon it will be a good deal of fun.

‘When I’m good I’m very good, but when I’m bad I’m better.’
– Mae West

Derived from ‘bawd’, a word of uncertain etymology associated with practices of female prostitution, ‘bawdy’ describes something that is boisterously or humorously indecent. Considering that one of the earliest known works of literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh, with its many descriptions of the randy exploits of a Sumerian prince, can be considered bawdy, one might suggest that bawdiness is an intrinsic quality of literary discourse. From Rabelais’s laughing pregnant hags, to Rochester’s copious odes to genitalia, and Joyce’s ‘obscenities’ in Ulysses, the bawdy has titillated centuries of readers. Shakespeare’s statement, ‘it is a bawdy planet’, further suggests that bawdiness is in fact a condition of earthly existence, rather than a specifically literary phenomenon. One might wonder, however, if our hypersexual society, with its tendency to overexpose the body, is limiting our ability to engage in a form of expression that seems to be at least partially enabled by sexual restrictions. Or has this contemporary tendency to ‘bare all’ created a unique environment in which bawdy forms like the burlesque can be all the more attractive, because we yearn for the mystery, the comedy, the provocation, and the tease—because for once, we want NOT to see it all, or at least NOT to see it all at once?

We invite participants from across disciplinary borders to present on any aspect of what is undoubtedly an exciting and daring field of inquiry. Be forewarned, however, that the ‘bawdy is a Pandora’s box,’ as critic Joan Hutton Landis writes, ‘once opened, it is hard, if not impossible, to close the lid.’

Possible topics could be inspired by, but should not be limited to, the following thematic concerns:

– gender and the body: Body/Bawdy
–  the connection with the dirty and abject
– bawdy genres and mediums (the dirty joke, folksongs, limericks, erotic cartoons, graffiti, the burlesque, etc)
– performing bawdiness: bawdy as commodity
– the bawdy in the Eastern and Western canon
– the intersections of bawdy and grotesque, camp, and kitsch
– changing standards of censorship
– bawdy and satire
– eating, drinking, screwing: the bawdy and other appetites
– the interaction between the erotic, the pornographic, and the bawdy
– famous bawds (real and fictional)

Submission deadline: 31 March, a 400-500 word abstract and a 200-word autobiography

Questions and submissions should be sent to: egsa-colloquium-committee-2010@googlegroups.com

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Professor Naomi Morgenstern will be reading ‘The University in Crisis: Teaching, Transference and Tenure in David Mamet’s Oleanna’ in her address as keynote speaker at the University of Toronto Department of English’s Literature and Psychoanalysis Graduate Student Symposium, 21 May 2010.

In their exploration of the intersections between literature and psychoanalysis entitled Testimony, Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub turn to the classroom experience, asking, “[i]n a post-traumatic century, a century that has survived unthinkable historical catastrophes, is there anything that we have learned or that we should learn about education, that we did not know before?” Indeed, both trauma and pedagogy confront their subjects – doctors, teachers, patients, victims – with the difficulties of communication: not just of putting history into words, but of making past events present enough to do them justice without ignoring the contingencies of memory and hindsight. Meanwhile, performance, in all its outward spectacle, seems at first to contradict the difficulties of traumatic and pedagogical processes; tragedy in particular ostensibly promises a cathartic experience, centering around those very aspects of recognition and expression that often elude the traumatized victim in the context of psychoanalysis. And yet participants in both educational and therapeutic settings often find themselves troubling the boundaries between fact and narrative, memory and story, authenticity and theatricality – distinctions whose surprising fineness can cast ethical questions harshly into the spotlight.

The Literature and Psychoanalysis Reading Group invites proposals for papers that explore the convergences and divergences of trauma theory, literature, psychoanalysis, pedagogy, and/or performance. We welcome submissions from a range of disciplines within the humanities and Social Sciences.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

– the relationship between teaching and psychoanalysis (“impossible professions”)
– trauma theory
– ethics and psychoanalysis
– transference (Freudian and post-Freudian theories)
– literary representations of education and psychoanalysis
– gender theory and psychoanalysis
– speech acts and violence
– borders and thresholds
– identification and desire
– masculinity, sovereignty, and the symbolic order
– theatre and psychoanalysis

Submission deadline: 26 March, 300-word abstract for a 8-1o page or 20-minute paper. Submissions must include full name, contact information and institutional and departmental affiliation.

Questions and submissions should be emailed to: 2010splrg@gmail.com.

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The Fifth Annual University of Ottawa English Graduate Conference is coming up, 12-13 June 2010.

“Man’s most valuable faculty is his imagination. Human life seems so little designed for happiness that we need the help of a few creations, a few images, a lucky choice of memories to muster some sparse pleasure on this earth and struggle against the pain of all our destinies – not by philosophical force, but by the more efficient force of distraction.” – Germaine Necker de Staël

Works of fiction, whether popular or “literary,” have often been described as informing – and being informed by – a spirit of escapism. Readers may take up a text seeking to be edified, but they may also hope for the “distraction” described above by Madame de Staël. Is this a necessary feature of fiction? Or is it rather a feature of the reader’s approach to fiction? How does it apply to works of non-fiction? To drama? To poetry? Can theories of escape and escapism be applied to non-literary fields? What alternatives to escape are there?

We seek papers addressing these and other questions, and we welcome submissions from students in all disciplines. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

– Escape
– Hiding
– Pursuit
– Divine intervention
– Happiness
– “The one that got away”
– Travel
– Safety
– Out and coming out
– Rescue
– Danger
– “esc”
– Transcendence
– Exploration
– Evasion
– Romance
– Survival and revival
– Fantasy
– Liberation
– Zombies

The conference is graduate oriented, however the organisers are also calling for interested undergraduates to form a panel.

Submission deadline: 1 April 2010, 300-word proposal accompanied by a 100-word biographical sketch.

Questions and submissions should be emailed to: uottawa.conference@gmail.com

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Luminary is a postgraduate journal that was recently set up at Lancaster University by a group of postgraduates, mostly working in the English Literature and Creative Writing department. This call for papers is for their second edition.

We hope this is a broad and stimulating theme, and encourages diverse and distinctive interpretations.

Possible papers might include work on:

  • Medicine and textuality
  • Representations of the body, or bodies
  • Representations of gender or sexuality
  • Writing, reading and bodily functions
  • Disfigurement, mutilation or sadomasochism
  • Horror and monstrous bodies
  • The textual subject
  • The text as subject
  • Typography and the materiality of text
  • History and textuality
  • The textuality of politics
  • Politics and representation
  • Intersections between pictorial and textual representation
  • The graphic novel
  • Metafiction and experimentation
  • Ageing/Childhood

Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive, proscriptive or prohibitive.

We are chiefly seeking quality academic articles, but are also very interested in including interviews, book and event reviews, creative writing, original photography and artwork. Whilst it would be ideal for interviews and reviews to relate to the theme of the issue, this is not a requirement.

As of yet we do not publish paper copies of the journal. All work will be published online.

Submission deadline: 1 April, 2010, 4,000–7,000 words

For details of submission and reviewing policy, or of correct submission format go to their website.

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‘Bonds and Borders: Identity, Imagination, Transformation’ will be the 8th annual conference of the Graduate School of the Arts and Humanities of the
University of Glasgow, and will take place 4th June 2010.

It is extremely dangerous to talk about limits or borders. It is vital, instead, that we remain completely open, that we are always involved, and that we aim to contribute personally in social events.

~ Dario Fo

‘Bonds and Borders’ is a one-day international postgraduate symposium aiming to explore the challenges and opportunities created by migration and mobility across national, cultural and geographical boundaries.  More specifically, we hope to consider some of the following questions:  do geographical borders protect, or do they become prison walls? How do these borders include, how do they separate? How does migration affect the individual? Are regional or transnational identities binding or liberating? Have new art forms or historical/critical methodologies emerged from 21st-century mobility? How is the individual defined by bonds and borders? How do concepts of security and global crisis affect freedom of expression at the personal and collective level?

We welcome short papers from any discipline that contribute to the dialogue about geographical, cultural and ideological ‘Bonds and Borders.’  Presentations may be based on an interdisciplinary or transnational approach, literary or visual representations, political or historical interpretation, or any other relevant approaches. We also invite creative contributions such as from the visual arts or creative writing. We intend to publish papers from this conference.

Subjects may include, but are not limited to:

  • Cultural identities/Self and Other
  • The stranger/immigrant/refugee in literature, art and the media
  • Citizenship/Migration
  • Equality/Diversity
  • Interfaith Dialogue
  • Construction of ‘West’/’East’ dualities
  • Nationhood/Nationalism/Patriotism
  • Globalization/Regionalization
  • Shadow societies
  • Language barriers
  • Translation

Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes.

Submission deadline: 15 March 2010, 250-word abstract, including three to five keywords indicating what the subject is.

The abstract details should include: your name, email address, contact telephone number, institutional affiliation and year of study, the title of your research project and should note of any technical requirements for presentation.

Submissions should be sent to this email.

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Transgression and Its Limits will be taking place 29-30th May 2010 at the University of Stirling, with Professor Fred Botting as Plenary Speaker and a Q&A session with Iain Banks.

To discover the complete horizon of a society’s symbolic values, it is also necessary to map out its transgressions, its deviants

~ Marcel Denne.

Rule-breaking has always been a central aspect of literary and cultural development. The works of Marquis de Sade, William Burroughs and Kathy Acker help define the canon of transgressive fiction, while Bakhtin, Bataille and Foucault have become its philosophers and apologists. From the law-breaking obscenity of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover to the immoralilty of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, transgressive art has offended the old order for the sake of a new.

The commodification of extreme horror in recent movies and the faux-antagonism of Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk both reveal the paradox of a transgression which has now established its own conventions. Is transgression more than the tradition of subverting tradition? Have the conditions of post-modernity exhausted our ability to be shocked?

The aim of this conference is to provide an interdisciplinary forum to consider transgressive tactics in literature, film, critical theory and other cultural productions. To what extent has transgression helped shape sexual, cultural and artistic landscapes of its own period? We invite abstracts for 20-minute
papers focusing on transgressive, taboo-breaking and politically resistant acts in literature and the arts.

Possible topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Violence
  • Profanity
  • The Sacred
  • Sexuality and the body
  • Obscenity and pornography
  • Aberrance, Fetish, Perversion
  • The New Horror: ‘torture porn’
  • Avant-garde cinema, Cinema of Transgression
  • The Carnivalesque
  • Gender roles
  • Censorship – cultural reactions to transgressive texts
  • Violence against the text – formal/textual transgression
  • Postmodernism’s transgression of the high/low cultural divide

Submission deadline: 19 March 2010, 300-word abstract, plus 50-word biography.

Check out their website for more details.

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