Empathic Landscapes: Walking With/In Difference


Deadline for Submissions: March 3, 2018

Contact Email: spadaka@mail.uc.edu

Conference Website: http://www.ucenglishconference.com

Keynote Speaker: To be announced

March 24, 2018

McMicken Hall, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH


Conference Description:

“Empathic Landscapes: Walking With/In Difference” is a cross-disciplinary graduate student conference that focuses on scenes of empathy—sites, settings, and passages, both implicit and explicit, concrete and conceptual, intangible. We will examine the various ways that texts (alphabetic, multimodal, embodied) can both honor and bridge the differences between us, an area of inquiry that strikes us as particularly salient in today’s political climate. Presenters are encouraged to submit creative or critical work that explores this topic as related to their field of study.

Individual presentations will be approximately 15 minutes, and there will be a question and answer session following each presentation. Participants may also submit panel proposals with multiple presenters. Panel proposals should be no longer than 750 words, while individual proposals are capped at 250 words.

Suggested areas of exploration:


  • What does it mean to occupy “insider” and “outsider” status within a specific community, geographic region, culture, religious group, social clique, or organization?
  • How have the experiences of immigrants, migrants, exiles, and refugees been rendered in various kinds of texts (literary, critical, theoretical, journalistic, performative, etc), and what can such material reveal about the interaction with/in difference.
  • In what ways do critical and creative works either reinforce or dismantle boundaries – social, cultural, economic, or otherwise – between people?
  • How do hierarchical power structures in a society impact the way that its members understand and negotiate difference?
  • How has (in)accessibility been explored in various texts and theories?
  • In what ways can we examine differences in gender identification and/or sexual preference among human beings?
  • How can we problematize the binary between “ill” (physically or mentally) and “healthy”?
  • While some differences between people are visible to the eye, there are also many invisible differences that define us. What are some of these invisible differences, and how have they been explored in creative and critical work?
  • We often think of differences between people as boundaries that we wish to cross. What are some instances in which de-emphasizing or eliminating differences might prove problematic, counterproductive, or potentially harmful?
  • What is the empathic relationship between humans and non-humans (animals, objects, places/spaces)?
  • How is our in/action impacting landscapes, ecologies, and environments?
  • What role does the media (both the entertainment media and the news media) play in either reinforcing or dismantling the differences between us?
  • How do various elements of the information age (such as the internet, smart phones, and social media) impact how our culture constructs and understands difference?
  • What role do politics play in our cultural construction of difference, particularly in our current political moment? By extension, how might we compare political language with literary language as modes of expression, especially with regard to the exploration of difference?