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CLC Research Seminar - Canadian Writings in Conversation

 Research seminar / Séminaire de recherche 2016



Date: Monday, February 29th 2016

An Event Chaired by Evelyne Gagnon and Orly Lael Netzer

The 2015-2016 academic year marks a unique moment for the literary community at the University of Alberta. With the Canadian Literature Centre celebrating a decade of work, and the Writer in Residence program at the Department of English and Film Studies celebrating 40 years, the 2016 research seminar is a wonderful opportunity to partake in the celebrations. This year’s event emerges from the Centre’s mandate as an organization committed to Canadian Literature as a creative body, a scholarly discourse and literary community, and follows a decade of fostering and nurturing diverse communities through research and dialogue. Our 2016 theme, Canadian Writings in Conversation, sets out to explore how we nurture new paths that bring into conversation artistic and scholarly perspectives through a shared interest and commitment to what are truly multiple Canadian literatures. Now that “CanLit has become CanLits” (Smaro Kamboureli; 2014)[1], we wish to focus on the ways in which our work opens up and engages in conversations across positions (cultural, linguistic, artistic, pedagogical, scholarly or multidisciplinary, and political). We ask whether we have indeed moved away from acknowledgements of cross‑cultural diversity to critically engage in what Diana Brydon and Marta Dvořák define as “crosstalk” (i.e. “forms of discussion that can respect and learn from diversity”; 2012)[2]. We invite fellow writers and scholars (emerging and established) to explore, unpack, and challenge this idea from a variety of perspectives, related but not limited to the following questions:

  • The current surge in translations of Canadian literary works from English to French (and vice versa) seems to suggest a rise in circulation not only of texts but also of conversations within and between reading and writing communities in Canada. Daniel Laforest and Maïté Snauwaert have stressed the currently growing interest of Francophone critics for English Canadian literature, and the numerous intersections between the two corpuses. Laforest and Snauwaert claim that now, new ways of encountering strangeness are the focus of reflection, rather than the geographical divisions and strict national and symbolic boundaries (2014)[3]. In those new spaces of dialogues, Leclerc and Simon think that we should therefore consider the dynamics created by those multiple areas of contacts between dislocated cultural and linguistic points of view and literary discourses (2005)[4]. In other words, can contemporary Canadian writings recreate in their own ways what Édouard Glissant called “a poetics of the Diverse”[5]?
  • Can we identify emerging dialogues between Indigenous, diasporic, immigrant, Francophone, feminist, queer, national or transnational perspectives? For example, a renewed interest in intergenerational dialogues between Canadian women’s writings and the critiques of their works are building a new tradition in a multicultural and bilingual scope (Carrière and Demers; 2014)[6]. How are those new dialogues different from previous ones and in what ways are they committed to varied ideas of fostering communities (literary and other)?
  • Do contemporary Canadian literary works revisit older tropes of CanLit? Are we ‘haunted’ by certain literary and political histories and legacies, and in which ways? What are we willfully forgetting, and why?
  • Are considerations of (re)conciliation limited to the relationship between Indigenous nations and the Canadian state, or do Canadian writers (and writings) suggest other potential avenues of cross-cultural relationships that can foster and nurture other kind of (re)conciliation? What about works that reject the idea altogether?
  • Are current manifestations of hybrid forms, genres, methods and practices — in terms of both creative and scholarly work — engaging with ideas of community or relationship building in novel ways?
  • Brydon and Dvořák call us to engage with “questions of audience, community and the shifting forms of collective imaginaries… [and] seek to capture the dynamic potential of this situation for reimagining the public spheres of engagement for creative work today” (2012). How do we (readers, writers, scholars) reimagine our ‘public spheres of engagement’? How do we imagine and engage with our literary communities, and how do we mobilize our communities to do work beyond the literary?


Please consider the following guidelines when submitting your abstracts:

  • 20-minute presentations, interlacing readings of creative works and a critical reflection on the writing process, or the relationship between creative and scholarly work — putting our practices in conversation.
  • Roundtables, including 8-minute presentations (3 or 4 participants) followed by a panel discussion and Q&A. Participants are welcome to send abstracts for individual presentation, partial or entire roundtable proposals. If proposing a complete topic-based roundtable, please send a proposal that includes the names, abstracts and biographies of all panel members. The committee will also accept individual proposals and will undertake thereafter to match individuals with common interests. To foster a fruitful discussion, panel members will be asked to read one another’s papers in advance.
  • Interview or tête-à-tête conversation — either between scholar and artist/author, among colleagues, or a student and mentor — should include a title and detailed (250 word) abstract of the topic and approach the conversation will take, as well as a list of questions which their conversation or interview will address. Please include both participants’ names and short biographies. The committee will also accept individual proposals and will undertake thereafter to match individuals with common interests.
  • Conference paper presentations are restricted to 20-minutes to enable sufficient time for questions and discussion.

Please send the organizing committee a 300-word abstract, with a title and a brief biography, in either English or French, by January 15th, 2016:

Evelyne Gagnon, CLC Postdoctoral Fellow (SSHRC): [email protected]

Orly Lael Netzer, CLC Research Affiliate: [email protected]


And don’t forget about… The 2016 CLC Poetry Contest!

The third CLC Poetry Contest will reward the best original poem (in French and in English) written by a student at the University of Alberta. The winners will be announced at the annual CLC Research Seminar.

→→ THEME 2016: Conversation.