In Momentum: Literature, Travel, and Alterity (Due 12/1/12)

In Momentum: Literature, Travel, and Alterity
The 23rd Annual Graduate Student Mardi Gras Conference
Louisiana State University
February 7th and 8th, 2013
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Katherine McKittrick

This year, which marked the centennial of the Titanic’s maiden voyage and tragedy, has witnessed a continuing interest in travel, the related discourses of globalization, migration, space, and place, and connected issues regarding alterity. In response to discourses emphasizing travel’s complicity in the imperialistic construction of racial and cultural otherness, scholars like Myriam J. A. Chancy have suggested re-envisioning postcolonial approaches that not only expose travel writing’s cultural imperialism but also locate its potential for cultural critique and self-reflexivity. Such potential carries on a tradition of rethinking the possibilities of travel and travel writing–a tradition including Kwame Anthony Appiah’s Cosmopolitanism which argues that such an -ism is not a solution but a challenge, and that “it begins with the simple idea that in a human community, as in national communities, we need to develop habits of coexistence: conversation in its older meaning, of living together, association.” Likewise, Alexandra Peat has augmented E. Alan Morinis’s model of pilgrimage by examining ethics, faith, otherness, and the sacred as fundamental to modernist travel literature. Most recently, Ginger Strand’s Killer on the Road delves into the issue of travel’s immorality by exploring the cultural connections between anonymity, criminality, and the American Interstate System. In response to these thinkers and shared interests, the 23rd annual Mardi Gras Conference seeks to investigate travel in all forms, with particular focus on momentum, as defined by the experiential and theoretical fluxes of movement and stasis. Panels will explore travel-writing genres, the relationship between travel and tourism, transnationalism, gendered, raced, and classed spaces, and broadly speaking any texts dealing with issues of spatiotemporality. Theories of travel are in constant movement and, through this conference, we hope to map the various ways travel, literature, and alterity intersect and to chart a course for future scholarship in the field.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Genre studies of travel writing, guidebooks, pilgrimage narratives, topographical histories, children’s and adolescent adventure tales, etc.
  • Themes such as migration, immigration, settlement, borderland, time-travel, cosmopolitanism; characters such as the mariner, the flâneur, the expatriate, the hobo; settings such as the road, the sea, the train station, etc.
  • Travel and/as quest, conquest, escape, exile, wanderlust, and tourism (including ecotourism and slum/disaster tourism)
  • Relationship between travel and criminality
  • Memory and trauma in relation to movement inward and outward
  • Displaced identities (i.e. home and homelessness; borderlands and liminality)
  • Migrant labor markets, outsourcing, and transnational circuits
  • Cartography in literature, cinema, music, and visual art- Gendered, classed, racialized, and sexualized spaces, including the corporeal as geographical place
  • Modernism, postmodernism, and the discourses of movement and stasis

Our keynote will be Dr. Katherine McKittrick, associate professor of gender and cultural studies at Queen’s University. Dr. McKittrick’s research focuses on social and spatial justice and she has published numerous articles on racial geographies in Canadian and African American literature and culture. Her most recent books include Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle and a volume of essays she edited with Clyde Woods entitled Black Geographies and the Politics of Place.

We encourage papers from a variety of disciplines. Proposals for individual papers as well as panel proposals organized by topic will be considered. By December 1st, please submit an abstract of 250 words and a working title as an attachment along with contact information, including name, institutional affiliation, degree level, email address, and phone number to