English Graduate Conference

Taking up Spaces

March 11, 2019

We live in them, move through them, occupy them, gentrify them, lay claim, then reclaim them, tame them and maim them. We build them, enrich them, define them, consign them. They can be first or final frontiers, domestic or foreign, and they can even encapsulate moments—curvatures in time. Given that space is the fundamental medium through which we live our lives, how do we define spaces, and how do spaces define us?

Simon Fraser University is located on the traditional and ancestral territories of the xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), Katzie, and kwikwəƛ̓ əm (Kwikwetlem) peoples, and understanding what it means to live, work, and study on this unceded land is an essential part of defining our own relationship to space.

Topics involving the idea of spaces include safe and compromised spaces, welcoming and dangerous spaces, and even the extra-terrestrial. Outer space, inner space, mental space, workspace, common space, private space, space the likes of which has never been seen before. It could be freeing up space on your hard drive, needing more space in a relationship, planning out space to grow, finding a space to call your own. It’s a lot. So join us, and take up some space in the discussion!

We invite proposals from graduate students at all levels, intellectuals both inside and outside the university, and those who do not identify within these categories. We actively encourage collaborative, creative, and multimedia work alongside strictly academic work. We invite work that addresses the following questions across disciplinary approaches:

• How do we approach ideas of space? What does space mean in your field, and how might that definition be different from more generalized understandings?

• How are spaces given character, form, identity or agency?

• What does it mean to have spaces that are safe, inclusive, or restricted, sacred or private?

• Is it even possible to create a “safe space?” Is it desirable?

• What tools do we have to help us understand our own relationships to space? Do maps and projections define spaces? What other kinds of borders matter to us, and what do those spaces mean to the non-human entities that we exist alongside?

• What spaces restrict us as people, and what responsibility do we have to the places we occupy?

• What does it mean to share space? To be a neighbor? To form a community?

• What spaces define you, what spaces do you define, and what sort of work needs to be done in making or defining new spaces?

• How can we approach space exploration in non-colonial/imperial ways?

• What does it mean to “space out” and what effects can spacing out have on the brain? What does it mean to be a “space cadet” or to be “spacey?”

• How can line spacing or letter spacing impact a work, in its printing or reading?

• How do negative and positive spaces define works of art? Of poetry?

• What does it mean to make space for underrepresented voices?

• Cyberspace? That’s it, that’s the whole question.


Please send proposals via email or post, no later than April 15, 2019, to:



Graduate Conference Committee
c/o English Department
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC  V5A 1S6

Proposals should include:

1. An abstract of no more than 300 words describing the genre and topic of your presentation
2. Your name and details for your preferred mode of contact (postal address, email, phone number, or literary code)
3. A brief biography of no more than 250 words
4. Any institutional or organizational affiliation (optional)
5. Any technical (Audio/Visual) requirements for your presentation

Note: these proposals may be for individual presentations or panels. Those who do submit individually will be matched by our conference organizers.


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