Close Encounters: Remapping Discipline through Genre (Due: 1/20/2014)

Close Encounters: Remapping Discipline through Genre University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Saturday, March 29, 2014 Guest Roundtable Participant: Andrea Hairston (Theatre and African-American Studies, Smith College)

Please send proposals to by Monday, January 20, 2014.

In the humanities, we often treat genre as a codifying term that contains or bounds a body of texts on the basis of perceived kinship, thus separating those texts from others. But how might re-seeing genres in Wai Chee Dimock’s terms–as strategically constructed “fields of knowledge”–reveal or produce encounters across disciplines, especially sites of collusion, crossover, and translation? If generic boundaries are permeable rather than fixed, this view can assist in remapping academic spaces, allowing ostensibly disparate texts, (sub)disciplines, and/or cultures to encounter one another and yield new scholarship. Far from treating genres as inert categories, this view seeks to interrogate the organizing principles at work across the humanities.

The English Graduate Organization of the University of Massachusetts Amherst invites submissions to our 6th annual interdisciplinary conference on the theme of (re)mapping discipline through genre. For example, we invite submissions that consider the following questions:

-In what ways is genre tied not only to forms of text, but also to national identity and/or time period? What makes a text “close to” or “distant from” another? How might rethinking geographic or temporal scale point toward ways of reading that interrogate traditional notions of region and periodization?
-What texts demand that we remap traditional generic divisions, and what new or underrepresented forms remain to be mapped, whether within or against pre-established categories? For example, if shifting definitions of  “text” include performance, shared practice, and other aspects of visual culture, how do such texts enter into (or alter) genre systems?
-Given the increasing digitization of archives and our growing ability to cross-reference texts and visual media, how do digital resources influence our academic work, particularly in ways that produce, reinforce, or destabilize genres/categories? In what ways do these innovations demand new digital literacies throughout the academy–for scholars, teachers, and/or students?
-How might generic designations be complicit in, or resistant to, dominant cultural discourses? What are the political stakes of mapping disciplines and/or genres, especially in light of canonization (or texts otherwise deemed “foundational”) in a given academic context?
How does specialization function as a site of enclosure or exclusion, and in what ways can the academy resist discursive enclosure?

While the concept of genre is often grounded in literary studies, we advocate an inclusive and expansive interpretation of the term; we especially invite submissions from interdisciplinary, creative, and cross-genre projects. Topics include but are not limited to:

-literary studies
-American studies
-canon formation
-databases and archives
-new formalisms
-translation studies
-historical studies
-rhetoric and composition
-digital humanities
-education, literacy, and pedagogy
-knowledge distribution and circulation
-pop culture / material culture
-media and cultural studies
-visual culture / art history
-performance studies / performing arts
-creative writing
-postcolonial and transnational studies
-indigenous and native studies
-world systems
-movement, migration, diaspora
-biological and physical sciences
-science/humanities crossovers
-gender and sexuality studies
-disability studies
-affect theory
-trauma studies

We accept three different types of submissions:
1. Individual papers/projects: please submit an abstract of no more than 350 words. Include your name, paper title, institution, and email address.
2. Panels: please submit a 1000-word proposal for an entire panel of presentations (3-4 presenters). Included in this proposal should be abstracts of 200-300 words for all presentations, the title of the panel, and information for each presenter (name, paper title, institution, and email address). If you are forming your own panel, you have the option of providing your own chair.
3. Performances and creative presentations/panels: we welcome submission of creative works, including creative writing, visual art, and dramatic performance. Please include a brief description of your project, as well as your name, project title, institution, and email address.