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DAGSE Conference

DESIRE: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference
August 21-23, Dalhousie University, Halifax

Contact the organizers at dagse.conference@gmail.com if you have questions about the conference. 

Read the conference programme [PDF - 926 KB] for more details on each day's proceedings.

“There is only one big thing—desire,” says Wunsch in Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark (1915). Indeed, many current events can be explained through the lens of desire, indicating the extent to which human behaviours and socio-cultural phenomena seem to be dictated by yearnings of all kinds. If the recent Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi scandals, for example, have taught us anything, it is that misplaced sexual desire, gender-based violence, and structural power inequalities are not one and the same—that this sort of conflation is problematic and needs to be continually addressed. But what of repressed, socially-sanctioned, or even benevolent desires? In what ways are private desires socially constructed, the products of public discourses and tastes? What might different approaches to the study of desire in literary studies, history, sociology, psychology, or other disciplines tell us about desire itself? How might an interdisciplinary approach inform the study of desire?

Most major thinkers in the Western tradition discuss human desires: Plato defines them negatively in terms of something that is lacking; Augustine argues that concupiscence, or lustful thoughts, arise because of our separation from God; Nietzsche writes of Machtgelüst, or the desire for power; and, more recently, Judith Butler traces the contours and contingencies of deviant identities and desires. We encourage thoughtful engagements with such figures, but we also encourage analyses of desire as it manifests itself in the writing of non-Western, non-canonical authors, in literary or non-literary forms of artistic expression, or in politics, social media, and the everyday.

The Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students in English (DAGSE) invites submissions of paper presentations for “DESIRE: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference.”  We welcome proposals from students at all levels and in all areas of graduate study. This three-day conference will be held August 21-23, 2015 at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and will investigate the various origins, forms, and consequences of desire in literature, art, history, religion, politics, society, and other areas of research.

Keynote Speakers: We are excited to announce our two keynote speakers for this year's conference: Jason Haslam and Elizabeth Edwards.

JASON HASLAM is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Dalhousie University. His research pivots around American cultural studies, with particular focuses on popular culture, science fiction, the gothic, and identity studies. He is the author or editor of several books, including, most recently, the monograph Gender, Race, and American Science Fiction: Reflections on Fantastic Identities (2015), the textbook Thinking Popular Culture (2015), the essay collection The Public Intellectual and the Culture of Hope (with Joel Faflak, 2013), and a scholarly edition of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes (2010). He currently serves as the President of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE).

ELIZABETH EDWARDS teaches at the University of King’s College, where she is jointly appointed to the Contemporary Studies and Foundation Year Programmes. She obtained her BA and MA degrees from Dalhousie University, and her PhD from Cambridge University. A medievalist by training, specializing in Middle English and the works of Chaucer and Malory, she is the author of The Genesis of Narrative in Malory’s Morte Darthur and several articles in the field. Her main teaching appointment is, however, in critical theory, and she has strong interests in contemporary theory, deconstruction, twentieth-century art, feminism, and in the psychoanalytic theory that informs all her work. She has published on Andy Warhol and Derrida. Her current research project, should it ever come to light, would be called “The Work of Mourning and the Language of Grief in Middle English Literature.” She is a founding faculty member and presently the Director of the Contemporary Studies Programme, and previously held the position of Vice President of the University, and President of the Canadian Society of Medievalists. Dr. Edwards is happy to be an adjunct to the Dalhousie Department of English.

Contact the organizers at dagse.conference@gmail.com if you have questions about the conference. Visit the conference website at http://www.dal.ca/faculty/arts/english/news-events/dagse-conference.html.