Graduate English Conference
The University of Idaho Graduate English Conference (UIGEC) is an annual event sponsored by M.A. English students. Each year, the conference chair(s) develop a theme, create a call for papers, invite a keynote speaker, and plan panels based on proposals submitted for the conference. All conference-related work is done by graduate students, with the faculty support of the M.A. English program director. The UIGEC is a unique opportunity for graduate students in the English Department to gain experience in planning, executing, and presenting at an academic conference.
UIGEC 2019: Fluid Frontiers: Explorations of Water in the Humanities and Beyond
Précis: Seventy-one percent of the planet is covered in water — an element that is fluid, ever-changing, essential to life on Earth. We live in a time where melting glaciers and rising water levels are reshaping landscapes, and physical and social boundaries are becoming increasingly fluid. This fluidity is written into our bodies at the cellular level. It welcomes us to think critically about ways of knowing both human and nonhuman worlds and creates a much-needed space for less-privileged narratives in academia and society. The graduate students in the University of Idaho Department of English invite you to consider how literature, creative writing, pedagogy, linguistics, and the humanities at large engage with water as both a physical substance and concept. This might range from ecocritical analyses, to fluid interpretations of language and literature, to creative works on the fluidity of relationships, ontologies, and experiences. We welcome projects that will open a discussion on ever-shifting creative, pedagogical, rhetorical, and theoretical boundaries, as well as explorations of how academic disciplines might harness the fluctuation of belief and knowledge to push these boundaries even further in ways that reflect the increasing interdisciplinarity of the watery world that we inhabit and embody.
Keynote: “Reclaimed Waters: The Arts of Elemental Justice in the Anthropocene”
Professor Richard Watts (French/Comparative History of Ideas/Environmental Humanities)
University of Washington, Seattle
Abstract: If instead of thinking of water as alternately pure or polluted—with all the associated pairs of tropes such as righteousness and abjection, virginity and defilement, and clarity and turbidity that this binary implies—what if we were to recognize water in the current social-ecological epoch of the Anthropocene as always already polluted or opaque (in that it always bears something other than itself, and we often cannot see what it carries) and to reimagine water’s possibilities from that standpoint? This keynote address explores the question of how we move forward with and through “tainted” waters by considering how cultural creators, actors, and theorists across a range of media, spaces, and languages “reclaim” waters in the name of environmental and social justice.
2019 Conference Chairs: Kit Stokes, Corrin Bond, John MacPhereson