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DAGSE Conference

DEFIANCE: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference  
Deadline: 15 April 2017

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

DEFIANCE: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference

Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality. […] We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

— Ursula K. Le Guin, Acceptance Speech

(National Book Awards 2014)

Though Le Guin made her speech in November of 2014, her words seem to gain urgency every day. Hard times are here, and many of us are grappling with what defiance looks like in our present moment. Existing structures of racism, misogyny, and economic inequality are being exacerbated by an increasingly unpredictable political situation. But throughout it all, individuals and communities are hard at work, sharing information and strategies, offering support, creating art, and fighting back. Social media has made these everyday acts of defiance more visible than ever. While some criticize the methods of groups like Black Lives Matter and #NoDAPL, there is no doubt that they are decisively and deliberately defying a system they consider oppressive. And while broader movements, like the Women’s March on Washington, are invigorating, but are called upon to be more intersectional. As scholars and teachers, we have the great privilege to negotiate our own strategies of defiance. Our specialized knowledge becomes a tool, as we discuss present-day politics in terms of a history of fascism, or use critical race theory to interrogate health practices. Who and how we read, how and what we teach, what we write, and for whom we write it: through our every act, we have the potential to resist and even to rebuild.

If, as Le Guin suggests, resistance often begins in words, how does literary studies mobilize this potential? How do other disciplines – psychology, history, science, gender studies, etc. – take up the work of resistance? Can disciplinary methodologies be a site of defiance, and what does that look like? Does real change depend on interdisciplinary work? What is the cost of sustained defiance, and how do we account for this cost on an individual or community level? How does a new resistant movement acknowledge and build on the longstanding anti-oppression movements? What affects make defiance possible: anger, hope, love, grief? What can defiance lead to–change, utopia, failure, empowerment, violence–and how do we reconcile intent with result? Le Guin argued for science fiction as a source of resistance and change; what other forms of pop culture lend themselves to defiant thought and actions? We encourage thoughtful engagement with these questions, as well as other manifestations of defiance in literature, the arts, history, popular culture, politics, and the everyday.

The Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students in English (DAGSE) invites submissions of paper presentations for “DEFIANCE: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference.” We welcome proposals from students at all levels and in all areas of graduate study. We encourage proposals from marginalized voices, and prospective presenters are welcome to self-identify in their proposals. This three-day conference will be held August 18th to 20th, 2017 at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and will investigate the various origins, forms, and results of defiance in culture and society.

We invite proposals for papers (15-20 minutes) on themes and subjects including, but not limited to:

  • Defiance through activism and social justice work
  • Histories of defiance/historically defiant figures
  • Aesthetics as defiance (the avant-garde, subversive genres, etc.)
  • Narratives of defiance
  • Intersectionality within resistance/resistance movements
  • Destructive/Counter-productive defiance
  • “Quiet” or “invisible” defiance
  • When defiance fails
  • Defiance and affect
  • Defiant pedagogies/defiance in the classroom
  • Enacting/embodying defiance, defiant bodies

Keynote Speakers: TBA

Submissions: Please submit a 250-word abstract plus a 50-word biographical statement that includes your name, current level of graduate study, affiliated university, and email address to dagse.conference@gmail.com. Panel submissions are also welcome.

Please include the words “Defiance Conference Abstract” in the subject line.

Deadline: 15 April 2017. Accepted presenters will receive notification in early June.

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