2005 Conference

Theory * Activism * Creativity: Navigating Textual Politics

October 27-28, 2005

Keynote speaker: Judith “Jack” Halberstam

Call for Papers

A recent New York Times article on the 2004 MLA Convention suggests modern scholars of literature have reduced the loftier study of accepted canonical texts into a chic preoccupation with popular media that is little more than masturbatory fantasy couched in a catchy title. Marginalizing various schools of theoretical thought, namely feminist, queer, postcolonial, radical race, among others, this article conveys to the public at large that contemporary humanities studies are informed by nothing more than “trendy” leftist political theories that have no lasting importance.

Not surprisingly, navigating the textual politics of studies within the humanities can often be fraught with myriad tensions for scholars both in and outside of the university. Indeed, skeptical attitudes toward politically informed schools of thought and investments in texts that fall outside of the traditional canon are still evident within the university system itself. These tensions therefore raise a number of questions about how and where theory, activism, and creativity intersect in our current moment. For example, how do we interpret and teach the literature of the past while navigating within and beyond the vacuum of tradition? How can texts be “activist” when modern theory often decentralizes meaning? Can we no longer talk about authors’ politics in connection with their process of creative production? How do we continue to reinforce the relevancy of various politicized strains of theory (feminist, queer, postcolonial, radical race, Marxist, etc.) in the midst of critiques that they become formulaic and redundant ways of “reading” texts? How do literature and different forms of media affect cultural and political change outside of the university?

This conference seeks to interrogate and navigate these fissures and overlaps between creative, activist, and theoretical work. We welcome panels, papers, and creative presentations by graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, and activists, which include but are not limited to the following issues:

literary criticism and activist theory
reading and teaching popular media, comics, film, fanzines, animation, etc.
diversifying canons and/or questioning canonicity
“intellectual” vs. “mainstream” publics and the question of address
politics and textual production
merging theory and activism
academic writing as creative
personal narrative as academic writing–transgressing theoretical conventions
activist rhetorics
the personal/autobiographical and the theoretical (testimonio)
feminist and GLBTQ research and publication
women’s studies, masculinity studies, postcolonial studies and interdisciplinary research
field-specific activism, including the role of professional organizations
listservs, blogs, MOOs, and activist cyberspaces
the role of activism in the classroom
the role of the activist on campus
the market: practicality, tenure, research
The deadline for proposals has been extended to September 16, 2005. Proposals must include your name, e-mail address, mailing address, telephone number, institutional affiliation, technology requests, presentation title, and 300-word abstract. Presentations will be limited to 20 minutes. Please submit your proposals to:

Andrea Wood, EGO Co-President
Department of English
4008 Turlington Hall
PO Box 117310
Gainesville, FL 32611-7310


Keynote Speaker: Judith “Jack” Halberstam
Professor of English and Director of The Center for Feminist Research at the University of Southern California
8:00pm – Keene Faculty Center

Note: All conference events will be held in Dauer 215 except for the keynote address, which will be in the Keene Faculty Center.

Thursday 10/27:

Panel #1: (9:00-10:30am)

Title: Digital Media Communities and the Building of Alternative Knowledge Structures

Laurie Taylor – “Game Studies Connecting the World at Large: An Academic and Activist Use of the Blogosphere” (University of Florida)
Phil Sandifer – “What Do You Do With a Complete Idiot: Terminal Stupidity and Wikipedia” (University of Florida)
Zach Whalen – “Scholarly Fandom: Configuring Expertise in Online Fan Communities” (University of Florida)
Cathlena Martin – “Wiki Politics in the Classroom” (University of Florida)

Moderator: Phil Sandifer (University of Florida

Panel # 2: (10:45am-12:00pm)

Title: Is There a Conspiracy Afoot?: Theorizing, Marketing, and the Politics of Consumption

Wesley Beal – “Toward a Positive Critique in (Conspiracy) Theory” (University of Florida)
Stephen Giddens – “Very Special Punk Rock Episodes: Occasional Pedagogy on TV” (University of Florida)
Aaron Talbot – “Marketing the Myth: Male Intimacy and the Horatio Alger Archive” (University of Florida)
Joel Adams – “M4M4M: A Queer Aesthetics for the All-American (Modernist) Man, 1913-1943” (University of Florida)

Moderator: Melissa Mellon (University of Florida)

LUNCH: 12:00-1:15pm

Panel #3: (1:30-3:00pm)

Title: Resistance, Rhetoric, and Readers: Navigating the Politics of Pedagogy, Theory, and Practice

Ramona Caponegro – “‘Guideposts and Direction Boards’: Children’s Fiction about the Criminal Justice System” (University of Florida)
Melissa Mellon – “Creating Consciousness: Studying Narratives of American Captivity in an Age of Terror” (University of Florida)
Carol Steen – “Resistance Theories and Pedagogic Practices” (University of Florida)
Jessica Burstrem – “A Feminist Approach to Mothering Boys” (University of Florida)

Moderator: Angela Schlein (University of Florida)

Panel #4: Roundtable (3:15-5:00pm)

Title: Women, Activism, and the Academy

Dr. Kim Emery (English Department)
Dr. Stephanie Evans (Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research)
Angelique Nixon (President of the BGSO, English Department)
Dr. Trysh Travis (Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research)

Moderator: Denise Guidry (University of Florida)

**Everyone is invited to attend a bonus department event after the conference Thursday evening (6:00 pm):

A reception for the “75 Years of Blondie: 1930-2005” exhibit.

Speakers include Dr. Donald Ault, of our English Department, Dr. Robert Shaddy, the chair of Special Collections and Area Studies in the library, and Stephanie Boluk, exhibit curator and current English graduate.

The reception will take place on the 2nd floor of the Smathers Library next to the Special Collections room.

Friday 10/28:

Panel#1: (9:00-10:30am)

Title: Rethinking Functions, Forms, and Phallacies

Ericka Parra – “Trans-passing the Subaltern Agency: The Salvadoran Maria Teresa Tula and the Bolivian Domitila Barrios de Chungara” (University of Florida)
Ericka Ghersi – “Feminist Thought and Feminist Politics in Peru: Leman Poetry During the Eighties and Nineties” (University of Florida)
Regina Martin – “Being ‘Not Whole’: Lacan’s Economy of Desire and the Eighteenth- Century Woman” (University of Florida)

Moderator: Scott Balcerzak (University of Florida)

Panel # 2: (10:45am-12:00pm)

Title: Theory, Translation, and Aesthetics: Critical Concerns About Language

Allen Hemmat – “Hermeneutics of Translation and Interpretation of Culturally Distant Texts” (Central Michigan University)
Christy McDaniel – “(The Happy) Sublimation of the Political in Theoretical Discourse” (ECPI College of Technology)
Aniruddha Mukhopadhyay – “Cognition and Creativity in Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’: An Indian Perspective” (University of Florida)

Moderator: Joanna Shearer (University of Florida)

LUNCH: 12:00-1:15pm

Panel #3: (1:30-3:00pm)

Title: Where is the Agency?: Postmodern Politics and Polemical Literary Signs and Cultural Icons

Lindsey Collins – “Postmodern Activism and the Community: The Engaged Individual of Jamaica Kincaid’s Autobiography of My Mother” (University of Florida)
Simone Sessolo – “The ‘N-Word’ as Ironic Social Signifier in O’Connor’s The Artificial Nigger” (University of Kansas)
Erica Nooney – “Dead Silence: Cultural Theory, Graphic Design History, and the Silence of the Swastika” (Kansas State University)

Moderator: Clay Arnold (University of Florida)

Panel #4: (3:15-4:45pm)

Title: Puttin’ it to the Patriarchy: Somatic Politics and Perverse Pop Culture

Maria Golstova – “Lil’ Kim – The Queen of Feminist Deconstruction” (University of Northern Iowa)
Emily King – “Indigestible Colonization: Bordo and the Politics of Food (Ingestion) in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions” (Tufts University)
Lyndsay Brown – “Queer Loose Ends: ‘Sorority Boys’ and the Failure of the Heteronormative Narrative” (University of Florida)
Amy Amorelli – “Pulp goes Pop: Literary Terrorism and the War Against Activist Rhetoric” (University of Florida)

Moderator: Andrea Wood (University of Florida)

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: (8:00pm) Keene Faculty Center

Judith “Jack” Halberstam – “Notes on Failure”
(Professor of English and Director of The Center for Feminist Research at the University of Southern California)

***Reception to follow keynote***