Contours Graduate Conference on "Utopian Spaces"

November 23, 2018

November 23–24, 9:00AM–7:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Organized by Contours Journal and SFU's Institute for Humanities, and is generously co-sponsored by SFU’s Department of Humanities, J.S. Woodsworth Chair in the Humanities, SFU Graduate English Program, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Department of Geography, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Department

Contours Journal and the Institute for Humanities at Simon Fraser University are hosting “Utopian Spaces,” an interdisciplinary, student-led graduate conference. We hope to reinvigorate conceptions of the often stigmatized category of utopia - the notion that things could be otherwise, the collective desire for a radical alternative - as they pertain to social space. We propose to think utopia in spatial terms, and space in utopian terms, allowing for the elucidation of transformative potentialities. Yet the utopian space or enclave is just as likely to veer into dystopia. Utopia and dystopia coexist, interact, and conflict, reflecting unmet needs and desires. We are therefore interested in the convergences and tensions between the utopian and dystopian, in terms of both existent and envisioned representations of such spaces.

Keynote Speakers

Geoff Mann (SFU, Geography)
Ajamu Nangwaya (University of the West Indies, Mona Campus)
Sherryl Vint (UC Riverside, Media and Cultural Studies)

Plenary Panel: “Occupied, Living, and Imaginative Spaces”

Patricia Barkaskas (UBC, Peter A. Allard School of Law)
Tiffany Muller Myrdahl (SFU, Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies )
Jerry Zaslove (SFU, Humanities emeritus)
Sobhi al-Zobaidi (SFU)
Moderator: Kim Beauchesne (UBC, French, Hispanic & Italian Studies)

Graduate Speakers

Andrew Czink (SFU, GLS)
Eric Danis (SFU, English)
Hilda Fernandez Alvarez (SFU, Geography)
Duane Fontaine (SFU, GLS)
Edward Graham (SFU, English)
Sydney Hart (Queen’s University, Cultural Studies)
Emily Laurent-Monaghan (UBC, Philosophy)
Caedyn Lennox (SFU, Humanities)
Michelle Levit (UBC, Education)
Shane Little (Loughborough University)
Sandra Lockwood (SFU, GLS)
Hollman Lozano (SFU)
Joseph Nicolai (SFU, Communication)
Kavita Reddy (University of Toronto, Political Science)
Aaron Su (Columbia University, Anthropology)
Alexis Wolfe (SFU, Humanities)
Morgan Young (SFU, Humanities)
Stephanie Yu (SFU, Humanities)


Friday, November 23

  • 9:00-9:15 Registration; Coffee/Tea
  • 9:15-9:30 Opening Remarks
  • 9:30-11:00 Keynote: Geoff Mann, “Without Despondency, Without Pretence”
  • 11:00-12:30 Graduate Panel: Kavita Reddy, Joseph Nicolai, & Morgan Young, "Conflict and Ideology"
  • 12:30-1:45 Lunch Break
  • 1:45-3:15 Graduate Panel: Ed Graham, Emily Laurent-Monaghan, & Duane Fontaine, "Negotiating Social Spaces"
  • 3:30-4:45 Graduate Panel: Hilda Fernandez Alvarez, Alexis Wolfe, & Hollman Lozano, "Ideals, Desires, Demands"
  • 4:45-5:00 Break
  • 5:00-7:00 Plenary Panel: Patricia Barkaskas, Tiffany Muller Myrdahl, Jerry Zaslove, & Sobhi al-Zobaidi, moderated by Kim Beauchesne, “Occupied, Living, and Imaginative Spaces"

Saturday, November 24

  • 9:15-9:30 Registration; Coffee/Tea
  • 9:30-11:00 Keynote: Sherryl Vint, "It’s Not Nothing, But It Never Occurred': Utopianism, Temporality, and Fictional Spaces"
  • 11:00-12:30 Graduate Panel: Sydney Hart, Eric Danis, & Andrew Czink, "Artistic Spaces"
  • 12:30-2:00 Lunch Break
  • 2:00-3:30 Keynote: Ajamu Nangwaya, “Utopia in the Here and Now: Organizing the Classless, Stateless and Self- Organized Society” 
  • 3:30-5:00 Graduate Panel: Shane Little, Aaron Su, & Sandra Lockwood, "The Utopian Experiment: Past, Present, Future"
  • 5:00-5:15 Break
  • 5:15-6:45 Graduate Panel: Michelle Levit, Stephanie Yu, & Caedyn Lennox, "Remembering, Being, Becoming"
  • 6:45-7:00 Closing Remarks/Wrap-up