September 15 – 16, 2022
University of Guelph
New deadline: July 22, 2022
In the wake of the global pandemic, environmental disaster, the war in Ukraine, the protests against anti-Black racism and police violence in Canada, the discovery of unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools, and the increasingly hollow rhetoric of reconciliation, the concept of Canada and understandings of national identity appear increasingly troubled. In light of these concerns, Canadian literature may appear even more like a relic, a holdover of naive humanism, and yet also, now and then, a place in which a creative, critical, and vital reassessment of nation, citizenship, and belonging takes place.
“Where From Here?” is an interdisciplinary conference that engages the fractious yet productive debates over nation and literature to ask what comes next for Canadian literary and cultural studies. What are the new stakes of Canadian literature in the wake of Canada’s colonial history, the rhetoric of reconciliation, and the experience of working and writing during the pandemic? How have we begun to think differently about our place in the world in response to the events of the past few years? Does literature still inform that understanding and how have artists, scholars, and readers begun to think differently about writing, national literature, and place?
Haunted by the ghost of Northrop Frye and his unshakable question “Where is here?”, “Where From Here” brings together scholars, writers, artists, and public intellectuals to critically reexamine the texts and the field of Canadian literature. How have we used literature, film, social media, podcasts, and other narrative forms to connect with one another and to transform our understanding of here? What contemporary concerns and formal innovations are Canadian writers grappling with in their works? How have the staid categories of regionalism and place faded or reemerged? Do Black and Indigenous authors seek to transform CanLit or do they write beyond its limiting confines? How can the history of Canadian literature inform our future vision of the field? How has precarity upended our field and ideas of public intellectual work more generally? What matters to our students and what are the future horizons of Canadian literary studies? We welcome papers that respond to these questions or which engage more broadly with the concept of CanLit in the twenty-first century. Additionally, and in keeping with this theme, we also invite contributors to suggest a paper for a “Reappraisals”’ panel in which they will offer a new look at a major text—scholarly or creative—in Canadian literary studies.