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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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