Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (CACLALS)
Conference Program 2012
University of Waterloo, South Campus Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology Building (PAS), except for May 27th 9:00-10:30 Roundtable in Environment I Courtyard
Registration for the Waterloo iteration of the annual CACLALS conference is through Congress 2012: https://www.fedcancongress.com/
CACLALS acknowledges that our conference is being held on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, and on land granted by the British Crown to the Six Nations under the terms of the Haldimand Deed of 1784.
Abstracts of conference presentations are gathered at the end of the program and are listed in alphabetical order by author’s or organizer’s last name.
Saturday, May 26
Session 1 Asian Diasporic Contexts, PAS 1229
Session 2 Re/Articulating Bourgeois Hegemony in Canada and Québec, 1 (co-sponsored with ACQL/ALCQ), PAS 1241
10:30-10:45 Break (catered beverage service outside PAS 2083)
10:45-12:00 Keynote Address: Leela Gandhi (Chicago), “Why Literature Departments Should Speak in Ordinary Language,” PAS 2083
Dr. Gandhi's address will trace how various traffics at the crossroads between East and West, and between forces operating within and across the boundaries of colonized nations, may yet contribute to the emergence of rigorous postcolonial disciplinary and interdisciplinary practices. Those practices, she will argue, make the work of literature departments directly pertinent to wider political projects of radical inclusivity.
Following doctoral studies at Oxford and a faculty appointment at Melbourne's La Trobe University, Dr. Leela Gandhi has since 2007 worked in the English Department at the University of Chicago. A poet, co-author of England through Colonial Eyes in Twentieth-Century Fiction, co-editor of the journal Postcolonial Studies, and member of the editorial board of Postcolonial Text, Dr. Gandhi works at the intersection of multiple disciplines, especially ethics, politics, and literary studies, in her investigation of the intricate legacies of colonial encounter, with special reference to India and England. Her Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction (1998) highlights the ethical possibilities of postcolonialism as a basis for non-violent living with, and knowledges of, cultural difference. In Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought, Fin-de-Siècle Radicalism, and the Politics of Friendship (2006) she looks at affective ties across the lines of the too often homogeneously conceived colonizer and colonized, and theorizes an affective cosmopolitanism.
12:00-1:00 Lunch; CACLALS Executive Committee Meeting PAS 2086
Session 2 Re/Articulating Bourgeois Hegemony in Canada and Québec, 2 (co-sponsored with ACQL/ALCQ), David Leahy, organizer, PAS 1241
Session 2 South African Subjects, PAS 1241
4:00-5:30 M. NourbeSe Philip: Writing at the Crossroads of Racialization and Gender: A Reading and an Interview with Veronica Austen (St. Jerome’s) and Phanuel Antwi (St. Mary’s), PAS 2083
7:00 CACLALS Community Dinner
Sunday, May 27
Dr. Janet Conway (Brock)
Session 2: Uncertainty after Disaster: In the Wake of Bhopal and 9/11, PAS 1241
2:30 or 2:45-3:00 Break
Session 2 The Beneficiaries of Colonialism and Reconciliation in Canada, PAS 1241
Monday, May 28
Session 2 Memory in Academic and Genocidal Contexts, PAS 1229
10:45-12:00 Plenary Address, Alice Te Punga Somerville (Victoria, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand), “‘Reach across an ocean to find the right words’: Maori-Aboriginal Literary Connections,” PAS 2083
In this presentation, Alice Te Punga Somerville will “reach across an ocean” as Anishinaabe poet Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm had done earlier in “from turtle island to aotearoa,” to explore connections between Maori and Aboriginal Canadian writers, asking “How do we articulate what we share, when our closest point of connection is our respective insistence on our uniqueness?” and “What might this situation mean for reading nationally, transnationally, and – perhaps – 'Indigenously'?”
A member of the Maori iwi Te Ati Awa, Te Punga Somerville has for three years been co-president of South Pacific ACLALS with Selina Tusitala Marsh. She is blogging this year’s sabbatical experience as Ta Tau Okioki: The Sabbatical Diaries. A published poet, she has also authored Once Were Pacific: Maori Connections to Oceania, forthcoming in May from U of Minnesota P.
Session 2 Book History and Moving beyond Print: A Media Studies Session, PAS 1229
2:45-4:00 Celebration Session: Graduate Student Presentation Prize Announcement and Book Launch, PAS 1229
Also available at the book table:
Chandrima Chakraborty, Masculinity, Asceticism, Hinduism: Past and Present Imaginings of India. Delhi: Permanent Black, 2011.
4:15-5:30 Annual General Meeting, PAS 1241
CACLALS gratefully acknowledges the work of our Local Arrangements Coordinator, Mariam Pirbhai, and our U of Waterloo liaison people, Veronica Austen and Heather Smyth, and the support of our conference by the Commonwealth Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Aguia-Way, Tania. “Uncertain Landscapes: Trauma, Risk and Scientific Knowledge in Madeleine Thien’s Fiction”
My paper will explore how Madeleine Thien’s novels Certainty (2006) and Dogs at the Perimeter (2011) figure the role of scientific knowledge in diasporic efforts to negotiate the legacies of the colonial past and the biopolitcal hazards associated with contemporary “risk society” (Ulrich Beck).
Attewell, Nadine, Phanuel Antwi, and Sarah Trimble. “‘Half devil and half child’: Reproduction, Race, Tropability”
In the wake of the 2011 London riots, this session reflects on the tropes – of ferality, of blackness, of innocence, of colonization – that circulate in response to such events. We both trace their genealogies, and invite reflections on the politics of thinking tropologically.
Baum Singer, Melina. “Memorializing Auschwitz: A. M. Klein and Diasporic Mourning Practice
This paper reads Eli Mandel poem’s “On the 25th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz: Memorial Services, Toronto, January 25, 1970 YMHA Bloor & Spadina” for the way it materializes a public and collective mourning practice– a practice I will argue is one form of a diasporic return, a return to the past and to a past home. The paper also theorizes the interaction between the poem and globalizing processes. The transgenerational transmission of the Holocaust is linked to technological media and globalizing processes of dissemination in ways previous collective traumas have not been, and when thinking through the affects mass media create, home—constructed here as Auschwitz—is a location able to become, somewhat, familiarized transnationally for Jewish diasporic communities.
Bessette, Lee Skallerup. “Postcolonial Condition as Menopause: Nalo Hopkinson’s New Moon Arms”
Nalo Hopkinson's New Moon Arms creates a fictional set of Caribbean islands in the postcolonial condition and a main character, Calamity, who is entering menopause. As Calamity rediscovers a long-lost power, her home is going through its own metamorphosis.
Blair, Jenifer. “Mary Ann Shadd, Book History, and the ‘Informationalization of Knowledge’ in Early Canada”
This paper investigates Mary Ann Shadd’s use of the term ‘information’ in her book A Plea for Emigration, or Notes of Canada West alongside the attention Shadd paid to the literature circulating in fugitive communities in Ontario. My argument will draw from postcolonial analyses of nineteenth-century communications and book history.
Brophy, Sarah. “Hearts of Greyness: Testing the Limits of Femino-Cosmopolitanism in Bernardine Evaristo and Maggie Gee”
By comparing Evaristo’s and Gee’s use of ethnographic tropes to generate critical provocations regarding the status of white femininity in the contact zones of a putatively post-imperial and post-racial Britain, I aim to bring into view their mutual testing of the limits of femino-cosmopolitanism. In turn, my paper also complicates Catherine Johnson’s recent assertion in The Guardian that white authors who address race serve nothing more than “comfortable buffers” in the contemporary literary marketplace and that there are no meaningful conversations occurring across black and white writing cultures in the UK.
Campbell, Kofi. “Queer Caribbean Lives and the Politics of Representation”
This paper will examine the ways in which queer Caribbean lives are often at odds with their portrayal in Western spaces, and the theoretical bases and potential consequence of that dissonance.
Collins, Michael. “A Retroactive Nation’s Imaginary Un-colony: Newfoundland and CBC’s The Great Eastern”
Between 1994 and 1999, the nationally-broadcast radio program The Great Eastern crafted a detailed fictional version of Newfoundland. While the show seems forgotten (although a fan community persists on the internet), it remains resonant because of its playful and deeply ironic challenge to narratives of nationhood and the legacy of colonialism in Newfoundland and Canada.
Dewar, Jonathan. (see Jefferess, David)
Dobson, Kit. “Mom and Pop Capitalism No More: Canadian Cultural Responses to Shopping” (not available)
Fee, Margery. “Forty Years of Language Politics: Beautiful Losers and Sociolinguistics in Montreal”
Identifying with the subaltern serves as an “alibi” for the privileged (Spivak). Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers, which focuses on Quebec language politics, and William Labov’s The Social Stratification of English in New York City, the founding text of sociolinguistics, both anchor their vision in subaltern figures. How have these visions held up since these books were published in 1966?
Findlay, Len. “Red Niggers of America: ‘Natives,’ ‘Marxists,’ and Neo-Liberal Canada”
By examining the current conjuncture in “Harperland,” reviewing the symptoms of resistance to that conjuncture, and side-tracking briefly to consider discursive responsibility in using the “n” word, this presentation will argue that the Canadian state racism that underwrites contemporary bourgeois hegemony in Canada results in Indigenous peoples being treated as red niggers.
Gingell, Susan. “At the Crossroads of Auto/Biography and Anecdotal Lyric: The Uncertain Terrain of Indigenous Testimonial Poetry in Canada”
Using Gregory Scofield’s “Conversation with the Poet” as principal exemplar of what I am calling Indigenous testimonial poetry, this presentation will seek to define, and then to answer two questions about, the genre: why write the oral when testifying about (neo)colonial harms, and why choose poetry to offer such testimony?
Geleyn, Rebecca. “Interpellation and Misfire: Deconstructing the Subject in Lewis DeSoto’s A Blade of Grass”
This paper examines Althusser’s theory of interpellation as it functions within Lewis DeSoto’s A Blade of Grass in order to investigate the relationships between characters in South Africa under apartheid. When interpellation fails, language creates an opportunity for characters to challenge their conceived roles within the dominant ideology.
Goldman, Marlene. “Canadian Gothic at the Crossroads: Madeleine Thien’s and Karen Connolly’s Global Gothic Texts”
My talk traces the aesthetic, ethical, and pedagogical ramifications associated with Canadian women writers’ ongoing reliance on motifs drawn from the Gothic. I argue that contemporary writers articulate what might best be described as the post-colonial and the contemporary global gothic—portrayals of terrifying ideological and structural systems of oppression that have transnational dimensions.
Hardwick, Jennifer. “’A space of not knowing’: Settler Ignorance and the Study of Indigenous Literatures”
This paper will offer close readings of history text books in order to highlight the ways that the Canadian population is mis- and uninformed about Canadian colonialism. The analysis will then be placed in conversation with Paulette Regan’s concept of “not knowing” in order to work towards pedagogical practices that use Indigenous literatures to address gaps in knowledge, encourage dialogue, and promote decolonization.
Hron, Madeleine. “’Kwibuka & Kwambuka,’ Or Memorial Crossovers in Rwandan Testimonials”
My talk surveys some of the generic trends and defining differences of Rwandan testimonials, while also spotlighting their intersections with current global discourses regarding memory, post-conflict, otherness, cultural difference, and global human rights.
Husain, Kasim. “At What Price Home? Queer Liberalism and the Gentrification of London in Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Laundrette”
This paper considers the reputation of Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Laundrette as a breakthrough representation of queer and South Asian subjectivity against the (ongoing) gentrification of London since its release in 1985. Laundrette thus anticipates “queer liberal” (English) efforts to fold radical queer politics into a conservative class project.
Jefferess, David. “The Beneficiaries of Colonialism and Reconciliation in Canada: A Panel”
This panel brings together five scholars who are engaging with the critical problem of the role of the settler/beneficiary within state-sponsored projects of reconciliation and redress.
Leahy, David. “Re/Articulating Bourgeois Hegemony in Canada and Québec”
In two joint sessions with ACQL/ALCQ, scholars from various disciplines and fields will explore and critique ways in which literary and cultural production in Canada and Québec have reproduced, contested and theorized the globalized, neo-liberal counter-revolution of bourgeois hegemony within the last thirty years.
Macfarlane, Heather. “Neo-liberalism and Indigeneity in Ondinnok Theatre’s Hamlet-le-Malécite and Drew Hayden Taylor’s AlterNatives”
Economic growth is increasingly the focus of reforms directed at Indigenous populations, both in Canada and Quebec. Ondinnok Theatre’s Hamlet-le-Malécite and Drew Hayden Taylor’s AlterNatives demonstrate the extent to which Aboriginal artists are engaged in interrogating ideologies that place little value on their cultures and traditions.
McCall, Sophie. “‘First Voices, First Texts’: Reframing Anahareo’s Devil in Deerskins: My Life with Grey Owl”
This paper is directed towards the republication of Anahareo’s Devil in Deerskins through the series, First Voices, First Texts. The aim is to repatriate Indigenous texts and draw out the connections between writers and their home communities. Anahareo’s case presents both opportunities and challenges because her texts and biography are shaped not only by the extraordinary continuity of Indigenous traditions but also by the diasporic pressures of colonization.
McGregor, Hannah. “(Re)Writing the “Foreign”: P.K. Page’s Brazilian Journal and the Digital Turn”
P.K. Page’s Brazilian Journal describes an experience of the “foreign” that has been narrativized as a period of artistic silence. This paper argues for the role of Brazilian Journal in demonstrating the function of the “foreign” in the development of Canadian literature, and for the necessity of a digital edition of the text.
McKegney, Sam. “‘maskwa pawing all his winter hunger’: Vulnerability and Indigenous Male Embodiment”
By placing recent Two-Spirit theory in dialogue with the emergent field of Indigenous masculinity studies, this paper examines what is at stake in sensual depictions of Indigenous male bodies. While Two-Spirit theory has been effective in destabilizing biological determinism, it has tended to retain a celebratory posture toward the feminine that it has not shared toward the masculine. For example, Qwo-Li Driskill identifies “radical Two-Spirit woman-centred erotics as tools for healing from colonization” (my emphasis 59). This paper considers whether radical man-centred erotics—whether Two-Spirit, queer, straight, and otherwise identified—might participate in the decolonizing processes Driskill champions.
Monture, Rick. “Traditional Narratives, Modern Problems, and First Nations Community”
This paper will examine how traditional Haudenosaunee narrative contains important ways to think about current Indigenous realities, and explores the possibility of using oral tradition to actively engage in the process of decolonization.
Moosa, Farah. “Cultural Inheritance, Narrative and Identity in Hiromi Goto”
Drawing on theories of diaspora and multiculturalism, this paper argues that in The Kappa Child, Hiromi Goto uses narrative as a way of illustrating the complex cultural legacies that are inherited by second and subsequent generation Canadian diasporic subjects.
Neigh, Janet. “Using Fictional Passports in Inter-American Literary Study”
This presentation examines how the border-crossing strategies depicted in Aboriginal author Thomas King’s short story “Borders” and Trinidadian author Earl Lovelace’s “Joebell and America” can contribute to the building of methodologies and pedagogies for inter-American literary study.
Novick, Miriam. “Speaking As, Speaking For: The Transnational Captivity Narrative After 9/11”
This paper examines two cases of ‘veiled best-sellers,’ the memoirs Honor Lost (2003) and Burned Alive (2004), as contemporary iterations of the historical genre of the captivity narrative, a reading complicated by their subsequent revelation as deceptive texts.
O’Brien, Susie. “Resilient Virtue and the Virtues of Resilience: Post-Bhopal Ecology in Animal’s People”
Through an analysis of Indra Sinha's novel Animal's People, this paper examines the “political aesthetics” (Ranciere) of resilience theory as a way of framing problems of postcolonial environmental justice.
Parmar, Prabhjot. “’a ritual, a necessity, a habit’: The Delhi Junction Café and Politics of Space and Home in Anita Rau Badami’s Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?”
I argue that in Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? The Delhi Junction Café becomes a space of comfort and also serves as an interstitial borderland between divided people. I examine how the space of the café offers nodes of collision and camaraderie burdened with the weight of history and memory.
Rimstead, Roxanne. “Social Cosmologies and ‘Wasted Lives’ in Rawi Hage’s Cockroach” This paper interrogates social cosmologies, “wasted lives,” “econocide,” and the aesthetics of inversion in Rawe Hage’s Cockroach through theories of neoliberalism and agency.
Sanders, Leslie, Mark Campbell, and Kay Li. “Digital Interactive Environments and New Curriculum for Schools”
The project this presentation addresses concerns delivering African Canadian autobiographies and Shaw's drama to schools via the broadband ORION network and their Othree interactive platform. The pedagogy involves using the literature as a basis for lessons in all subjects, seeking to render usual the discussion of African Canadian history and experience in schools.
Scott, Jill. “Narrating Restorative Justice: Storytelling and Indigenous Legal Frameworks”
This paper will ask how narrative analysis and in particular the role of storytelling in Indigenous quasi-legal traditions can contribute to our understanding of restorative justice. Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach (2000) and Kevin Loring's Where the Blood Mixes (2009) will help illustrate how Indigenous legal frameworks are embedded in storytelling.
Smyth, Heather. “How Not to Reinvent the Wheel: Coalitions, Caucuses, and Collaborations in Contemporary Canadian Multiracial Literature”
This presentation will draw from the conference themes in several ways: I address the idea that the “postcolonial” study of Canadian literature is at a crossroads with the turn towards transnational or global frames; I explore the border-crossing coalitions that shaped multiracial Canadian literature in the 1980s and 90s and continue to form it today; and I propose that we see artistic collaboration and multimodal cultural practices as crossover strategies that respond to the economic and cultural pressures of the present. My paper will focus on the work of Wayde Compton, Rita Wong, and Larissa Lai, writers who are reinventing coalition politics in the present.
Spearey, Susan. “Mobilizing Memory Work: Thinking Through and Across the Trajectories of Postcolonial Studies”
This paper seeks to examine the extent to which Michael Rothberg's “countertradition” and methodology of “multidirectional memory” might serve as a vehicle for the re-thinking and re-routing of the trajectories on which postcolonial studies draws, and those according to which it dialogues with other scholarly fields.
Stiebel, Lindy. “Correspondence at the Crossroads: A Personal View of a Public Intellectual”
This paper engages with email correspondence between myself and Lewis Nkosi, the exiled South African writer, conducted over nearly ten years; particularly the sections which make reference to his three novels. The crossroads of personal and public, home and exile, memory and nostalgia provide the theoretical framework for the discussion.
Tomsky, Terri. “Comprehending the Post-9/11 World: The Cosmopolitan Testimonies of Unlawful Enemy Combatants”
Describing their de-subjectification via the transnational process of extraordinary rendition, a number of former enemy combatants are challenging both the material and epistemic violence they suffered while incarcerated by the U.S. military. This paper examines how and why so many appeal to cosmopolitan rhetoric, in order to rethink humanism in a post-9/11 context.
Ty, Eleanor. “Transnational Mothers in Two Contemporary Asian Diasporic Narratives”
Globalization has changed not only the kinds of goods and services available to us but also our private spaces. Children from developing countries are adopted by parents in western countries, while mothers from Asia go to a wide range of countries to work as domestic servants or nannies leaving their children behind. I look at two contemporary narratives that deal with mothering across cultures and at the political implications of these new forms of intimacy.
van der Marel, L. Camille. “Why Did the Postcolonial Scholar Cross the Road? The Transnational Turn in Canadian Literary Studies”
At this moment of disciplinary change, systemic factors are significantly contributing to how the transition from postcolonial to transnational/global reading strategies is described and historicized within Canadian literary studies. What future(s) are we as a discipline imagining for a field that has been termed Commonwealth, postcolonial, and now transnational/global literatures, and how is our collective imagination being shaped by academic structures and historical precedents?
Zarranz, Libe Garcia, L. Camille van der Marel, and Melissa Stephens. “Special Roundtable: Stepping Forward, Looking Back: Post-colonial, Global, Transnational, and Diasporic Studies in the 21st Century”
This roundtable discussion arises from the necessity for literary scholars to reflect upon the significant and subtle shifts away from post-colonial thinking towards concepts such as globalization, transnationalism, and diaspora, particularly as they are used in literary analysis or, more broadly, in cultural studies. Complex and diverse positions have been assumed from within each and along the continuum of these traditions, and so this roundtable calls for the creation of context, debate, and evaluation for what must be retained and/or revised in the future studies of literatures impacted by legacies of colonialism, imperialism, and globalization.