Saturday, March 7th


1) Daniel Boisclair (Montreal). “Lost Transmission: the Electronic Voice Phenomena.”

“The realm of the dead has the same dimensions as the storage and emission capacities of its culture.” Friedrich A. Kittler writes in “Gramophone, Film, Typewriter” (Stanford University Press, 1999, 42). The invention of modern medias (i.e. photography, phonography) brings forth the expectation of recording emissions of the other world: specters and such were largely part of folklore and legend before Edison.

Upon hearing the voice of his dead father’s voice and that of his recently deceased wife on a tape he had used to record bird songs, Swedish film producer and painter Friedrich Jürgenson wrote the book “Voices from Space” (1964). These voices, believed by some to be those of specters are commonly found in tape recordings containing either static or background noises. Often regarded as an auditory pareidolia or as apophenia, the Electronic Voice Phenomenon has nevertheless been the subject of exhaustive parapsychological studies. Konstantins Raudive took a deep interest in the phenomena and published the results of his scientific approach to the EVP in the book “Breakthrough: an Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead” (1971).

Following Kittler, “Media always already provide the appearance of specters” (Kittler, 1999, 41). Through the sceptical lens, the Electronic Voice Phenomenon is yet another spiritualist way of coping with a peculiar, yet scientifically explainable incident. This very tension, between the spiritual and the sceptical point of view, will be the subject of our study on lost transmissions.

2) Maryline David (Queen’s University-Belfast). (TBA.)

3) Antonio Jimenez-Mavillard (Western). “Bullipedia: a transgastronomic encyclopedia.”

When Ferran Adria closed elBulli, awarded the best restaurant in the world, he decided to continue his creative activity by externalizing all the wisdom he collected onto the Bullipedia, his vision for “an online database that will contain every piece of gastronomic knowledge ever gathered”. However, this is an idea yet to be developed. Thus, the question to answer is: “What should the Bullipedia be like?” In this work, we analyze a community formed around a food magazine, Taste of Home, in order to extract good practices and apply them to the creation of the Bullipedia.


1)  Pamela Mackenzie (Concordia). (TBA.)

2) Adriana Soto and Itziri Moreno (Western). “TRANSfer of grammatical gender in L3 Spanish.”

Previous studies have examined the acquisition of determiner-noun gender concord in Romance Languages in the context of L2; however, there is a lack of studies regarding this process in L3 acquisition. This study investigates the acquisition of gender concord in determiner phrases in L3 Spanish. Some proposals for L3 acquisition have claimed that the main source of transfer is the L1, the L2 (Bardel & Falk, 2007), both in a cumulative way (Flynn et al., 2004), or that transfer is selective according to the typology of the language (Rothman, 2011).

The nouns in both Spanish and French are marked for grammatical gender. Based on the gender of the noun, determiners and adjectives agree in gender. This study investigates gender assignment and agreement in Determiner Phrases in L3 Spanish by two groups of trilinguals whose linguistic inventory included English French and Spanish. The participants are divided as follows: (1) L1 English-L2 French-L3 Spanish (n=10); (2) L1 French-L2 English-L3 Spanish (n=10); and (3) L1 Spanish controls (n=10). The materials consisted of a linguistic background questionnaire, two proficiency tests (for both French and Spanish) and an oral production task in Spanish in which participants produced 128 DPs. The nouns for the task were carefully selected through combinations of four variables: 1) Cognates / Non-cognates; 2) Same/opposite gender; 3) Masculine / Feminine; and 4) Canonical/Non-canonical.

The results revealed that assignment errors are far more common than any other type and that the most problematic variable does not seem to be cognates / non-cognates. The highest error rate was indeed found in non-canonical endings, especially in the feminine gender. This seems to suggest that participants were not transferring gender from their L1/L2 French but were rather using canonicity cues to determine the gender of the nouns.

3) Brigitte Stepanov (Brown). “The Blame Game: From Disease to Economy to Ecology in Marie Redonnet’s Splendid Hotel.

Malady, contagion, vermin and swamp are the constituting elements of Marie Redonnet’s 1986 work Splendid Hôtel. Having inherited the Splendid from her late grandmother, the narrator of the novel, the youngest of three sisters, is nearly obsessed with the maintenance of the inn. The battle is continuous and cyclic, however: with every accomplishment comes a greater setback, a greater horde of vermin or absentminded guests creeping in. The hotel, situated in a swampy region restricting its area, also raises questions concerning economy – the number and the combination of possible events to occur in a finite space. In this paper, I would like to first consider the role of disease and illness in Splendid Hôtel to then question the representation of genealogy, economy, and, ultimately, ecology in the text. In other words, I will be focusing on how malady puts into question the relation of the body to its inside and outside, in addition to how blame is distributed or attributed in disease, and how these considerations can help understand underlying questions in the text of a non-filial lineage and a blurring of the relation between economy and ecology. Finally, the efforts of reading Splendid Hôtel in this way will amount to delimiting the common thread linking the various questions that I have posed. This uniting element, I would like to argue, is the notion of transmission, of transference, and it is the project of this paper to think both transmission and threshold – or more specifically the blurring of threshold – as being at the heart of Redonnet’s text.


1) El Habib Louai (Mohammed V, Morocco). “In a State of Transition: the Condition of Clandestine (Im)Migration and Its Impact on the Moroccan Female/Male Identity in Laila Lalami’s Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits.

In her debut novella, the Moroccan-American immigrant writer Laila Lalami exposes the deplorable social conditions of a group of Moroccan individuals trying to break through the Spanish Moroccan borders. With a great deal of wit and skillfulness, Lalami transforms into a work of fiction an existing, daily reality of many dispossessed young and old Moroccans who dreamily think of Europe as an earthly paradise where they can start a better life. Many never made it, but some have clandestinely managed to leave their country with rosy predictions only to be shocked at the scandalous and discriminatory behaviors of the hosting country. What unfolds beyond the borderlines remains a personal story, sometimes never shared if it does not become a work of fiction or a memoir. This paper attempts to explore the impact of clandestine immigration on male/female identities by looking into the drastic changes the Moroccan male/female characters experience the moment they cross the borders from Tangiers, Morocco to Spain. More importantly, it also explores the aftermath of these male/female Moroccan nationalistic identities as they start a new life within the territories of a different other. It also answers the question how much is lost from distinctive nationalistic identities upon the imposed return of an undocumented migrant?

2) Shelley Liebembuk (Toronto). “‘Body In Transit’: Subversions of Caribbean diasporic identity in Josefina Baez’s performance poetry.”

Performance poet Josefina Baez offers a rich case study for exploring performative subversions of identity construction, in and through her particular embodiments of syncretic Caribbean diasporic identity in performance. Baez’s work layers a dense poetic text—weaving across English, Spanish, and a particular ‘dominicanyork’ Spanglish—with a physical vocabulary that intricately merges quotidian urban gesture with Indian Kuchipudi dance movements. The result is a defiantly hybrid body in performance: at once ethno-culturally specific—as ‘dominicanyork’—yet rejecting rigid circumscription. Notably, Baez situates every gesture she encounters in the global city—regardless of its ‘origin’—as one that has the potential of becoming, through a process of embodied practice, part of her ‘dominicanyork’ self . As such, Baez’s work actively refuses racist, patriarchal, hetero-normative impositions that might seek to circumscribe the ‘dominicanyork’ body, both from within Dominican and American cultural prejudices. I wish to engage with Baez’s expansive artistic understanding of transcultural and transnational identity through a particular assessment of performative snippets from both her first full-length piece, Dominicanish (extracts of which she performed in the subway tunnels of New York City’s outer boroughs), and her most recent piece, Levente no. Yolayorkdominicanyork (performed while walking around in the South Bronx). These works embody the trans-formation of language—both verbal and physical—as it moves across both the pains of acculturation and the joys of new discovery. I read this process as simultaneously making visible the neo-colonial violence of linguistic hierarchies and cultural assimilation, and celebrating the flexibility of sonic variation and hybridization. Moreover, I wish to suggest that these works not only posit Baez’s body in performance as trans-mutating, but also invite the audience to negotiate ‘translation’ across an eclectic range of aesthetic styles and cultural and linguistic references and proficiencies; positioning the audience as a reciprocal body in transit.

3) Christian Ylagan (Western). “The Gay Superheroine As Filipino: A Postcolonial Queerying of Carlo Vergara’s ZsaZsa Zaturnnah.

This paper recasts the “mere” gender-bending dynamics of Carlo Vergara’s hugely popular Filipino graphic novel Zsazsa Zaturnnah within a distinctly postcolonial panorama, interrogating the convenient yet suspect wholesale adaptation of queer theory as a universal (and universalizing) framework. While the presence of an effeminate gay male protagonist transforming into a voluptuous, fully female superheroine through fantastic means lends itself handily to a discourse of externalized transgenderedness, this paper argues that such a straightforward reading fails to articulate and interrogate the nuances of Vergara’s narrative, that is, that Vergara’s text is influenced by but ultimately differentiates itself from the tradition of Western camp literature through its productive utility in the postcolonial/decolonial discourse.

Drawing from Gloria Anzaldua’s theorizing of the mestiza, a term used to describe somebody of mixed descent but is more accurately translated as “torn between ways” (Anzaldua 78), this paper builds on Anzaldua’s insistence on a mestiza—and also queer—intersectionality where sexual identity cannot be separated from geography, linguistic modes, and cultural contexts. This indivisibility becomes even more complicated in light of Maria Lugones’ argument that “colonization inscribed a new gender on the colonized that was not the ‘same’ as the gendered relationships present in Western/European cultures” (Canfield), where compulsory heterosexuality became a modern/colonial construction that was then used to police gender/sexuality between both the colonizer and the colonized. Canfield thus argues that “there cannot be a separation of queer epistemologies from decolonial thinking” because gender and sexuality were deployed as part of the modern colonial project.

This paper thus reexamines a text such as Vergara’s Zsazsa Zaturnnah in light of the complexities of its gendered, postcolonial, and popular syncretism, which render unstable global understandings of queer readings. By showing that the notion of performativity is always circumscribed within the postcolonial context that informs it, this paper seeks to challenge basic assumptions about agency and social transformation rendered in a popular piece of queer writing.


1) Jeremy Bell (Trent). “Transgression and Transaction: On Pierre Klossowski’s Living Currency.

Pierre Klossowski is not well-known outside of France, and especially not for La monnaie vivante (1970).  His récits or his philosophical readings of Sade or Nietzsche have garnered the most acclaim.  By way of his reading of “living currency” he deconstructs contemporary economics, teasing out the intricacies between sensuality, value, and the simulacrum, transgressing the categories between language and economic transaction.  Published alongside photographs by Pierre Zucca that ostensibly illustrate Klossowski’s hermetic theses, La monnaie vivante is at once satirical and deathly serious, a synchronous commentary on the Marquis de Sade’s Society of the Friends of Crime and the utopian socialism of Charles Fourier.  After a brief overview of Klossowski’s life and career, a reading of La monnaie vivante in depth is developed.  By inverting the classical usage of the simulacrum through its analogies with the numeraire or basic standard of value, Klossowski critiques the discursive biases that stand against a pure flux of intensities.  In this way he anticipates postmodernism even as he also problematizes it.  The destruction of political economy and metaphysics are combined he suggests, and the relativity of one cannot be granted without the other.  We show not only why Klossowski was so important for a generation of theorists that no longer accepted the objectivity of truth, but also how his observations remain underestimated still today.

2) Clinton Glenn (Concordia). (TBA.)

3) Erin Nunoda (Toronto). (TBA.)

4) Paola Preciado (Western). “Bartleby, or on desertion.”

This essay ‘Bartleby, or on desertion’ reviews the relations of power to language and the deterritorializing mechanism of desertion expressed in the text ‘Bartleby, the Scrivener’ (1853) by Herman Melville. At stake in this discourse are problems of communication and sovereignty:“How can we achieve a collective that keeps the importance of singularities?” Bartleby engenders questions of what a human being is and can be, and he pursues means to dissolve the hierarchies which poison human relationships and destroy the shine of words. Having based the analysis of these ideas on Agamben’s essay “Bartleby, or on contingency” and Deleuze’s “Bartleby; or the formula,” I conclude that what is expressed in ‘Bartleby, the Scrivener’ by overcoming the classical dichotomy of yes/no (accepting/denying) through desertion opens a new dimension of human existence: the freedom to being a human being, not only a machine, a repeater of systems, a perpetuator of death (bureaucracy and its institutions).


1) Sandra Lockwood (Simon Fraser). “Thin Moon, Earth Rise.”

The term “Thin Place” is from the Celtic tradition, denoting the destination of a pilgrim seeking transcendence in an extreme environment. The Thin Place landscape is beautiful yet terrifying; it is imbued with “numinosity”–exhilaration mixed with existential fear. In our age, the Thin Place quest has morphed into a challenge to evolve beyond the confines of our own physiology; through ingenuity and invention we reach places never meant to accommodate human life. This presentation examines the quintessential Thin Place quest of the 20th century: the Apollo Moon landings.
 The Moon’s undeniable, transformative ability, its waxing and waning face, has transfixed humanity throughout the ages. However its power over us as both heavenly body and celestial clockwork is no longer relevant. The Apollo missions drained sublimity from our glowing nighttime satellite: the Moon is dead rock, in astronaut Bill Anders words, “a pulverized pile of dirty beach sand.”
 However, whatever numinosity the Moon may have lost, the Earth has gained: as Apollo 8 rounded the far side of the moon in 1968, the astronauts gazed on Planet Earth for the first time in its entirety. Through the “Earthrise” photograph taken by the Apollo crew, we saw our home: a fragile, luminous, blue-green sphere suspended in the black void of space. This image from space is a transformative moment in human history; it became the catalyst for the global environmental movement.
 Yet, despite our heightened awareness of our uniqueness in the universe, we continue to plunder Earth and now we look beyond our planetary boundaries. We glorify the explorer/astronauts, who accomplish dangerous missions, but what do they leave in their wake, and, as naturalist Barry Lopez asks, “What is the nature of the heroic once the landscape is threatened?” Will the wonder of discovery give way to economic exploitation? Will one day, the familiar face of the “man-in-the-moon” be topographically altered by too many men on the moon, strip-mining for Helium-3 to feed fission reactors back on Earth?

2) Braden Scott (Concordia). (TBA.)

3) Sarah Warren (Western). “Trance-ending Tectonics: Deserting the Home-For-Itself.”

Undergirding every theoretical framework is a network of material referents upon which ideas collect, propagate, and disseminate. Academic discourses not only exert an influence on the world, but are themselves equally influenced by it: the egalitarian feedback loop between subject and object is dictated by the constraining fact that we are embodied beings in a physical milieu. Despite the seeming immediacy and intuitiveness of this statement, however, it is a well-worn adage that we must be mindful of the delicate balance of theory and praxis. This is not only a normative statement or an ethical injunction, but a methodological observation: from the intimacy of Platonic dialogues to Jane Bennett’s “thing-power,” the history of philosophy points not only to the value of lived experience on thought and reason, but also its inescapability.

While such a philosophical position is well accounted for in the abstract in contemporary literature – e.g. Donna Haraway’s notion of situated knowledge – the movement from “a conquering gaze from nowhere” into a place infused with tradition, language, and culture demands a robust understanding of what this really (perceptively and emotionally) looks like. In the spirit of intellectuals like Gaston Bachelard (The Poetics of Space), this investigation proposes to enact a phenomenological “bracketing” in the style of psychogeography and the context of Southwestern architecture, foregoing a symbolic unpacking of traditional cultural iconography in favour of narrowing in those distinctive features of regional design – from pastel hues to the unity of adobe walls – that give it a distinctive and influential “feel.” We will therefore work to unbind the subject from its strictly intellectual tethers, transcending the liberal humanist subject and transforming it into something much more embedded in and indebted to the realm of the particular – the trance of our own material constitution.

4) Tony Westman (Simon Fraser). “Becoming Surrey: Journey Through the Invisible City.”

Becoming Surrey: Journey Through the Invisible City is an exploration of the transformation of a suburban landscape into a built-up urban environment, its point of view influenced by W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, further informed by the writings of Lewis Mumford’s The City in History and E.V. Walter’s Placeways that together provide theoretical perspectives to my Journey Through the City of Surrey, where the sense of Place is defined by unique historical legacies and topistic qualities. Becoming Surrey as a ‘Journey’ uses photographs and reflections to identify and confront the ‘topistic reality’ evident in the built world of Surrey in order to describe and construct an atlas of ‘The Invisible City’; and further, to penetrate and disrupt the trance of growth and development embedded in modernity. My intention is to answer Walter’s riddle of “What is this Place?” The viewer is invited to synthesize and translate both word and image into a consciousness of the complexities of experiencing the City of Surrey as a Place, yet this word / image dialogue entertains topistic ambiguities that suggests neither is capable of standing by itself nor does it offer an immutable representation of the Invisible City.


1) Catherine Allen (Buffalo). “Justice Through Mistranslation: On Erin Moure’s Foreignizing Methods.”

In her book “The World Republic of Letters” Pascale Casanova highlights the inequality that exists on the world literary stage, arguing that there are forces at play in this distinct realm that have previously been ignored. For her, Paris is (or was, until recently) the dominant “center” that has the almost uncontested power to assign value to literary works. Casanova argues that through this process, which she calls “consecration,” works undergo a change in their very nature: they move from “literary inexistence to existence, from invisibility to the condition of literature” by force of a “magical transmutation” (127). The fact that she points to translation—a process often conceived of as a neutral transfer of meaning from one language to another—as one of the primary means of consecration raises important questions about translation. In this essay, I will use Casanova’s theory as a framework through which to probe some of the still highly contested questions surrounding translation: namely, what is at stake in translation, and what kinds of translations do the most justice? Specifically, I will outline and analyze some of the conversation surrounding translation and how it is used by both central and peripheral writers in order to argue—with and through Canadian poet Erín Moure—that active “mistranslation” actually serves as a more just way of encountering the Other.

2) Cheryl Emerson (Buffalo). “Migratory Texts: Chus Pato and Erin Moure’s Secession/Insecession—Mutant Territories and the Language of Prosthesis.”

Chus Pato and Erín Moure’s Secession/Insecession are migratory texts, in the sense of texts that migrate, as well as texts that explore topics of migration. Through translation, Pato’s Secession migrates from Galician to Canadian English, porting its history as a language “that is stateless within Spain and that is not Spanish.” In her responsive “echolation-homage,” Moure’s Insecession migrates from events in Pato’s life to Moure’s own ancestral history of dislocations from Galicia, Poland, and Ukraine, and subsequent erasures of language in Canada where she “still seek[s] an ancestral cadence” (44). Meanwhile, the reader migrates from Moure’s Insecession on the left facing pages to Pato’s Secession on the right, disrupted on both sides and caught between antiphonal texts that insist upon a new style of embodied reading. In works each prefaced as “a biopoetics” (itself a mutant term), Pato and Moure investigate “the relation of transmissibility . . . the relation of text to bodies,” to include bodies of texts, readers, writers, and even plant life (112). Separately and together, Secession/Insecession traverse the “mutant territories” of body and language that encompass the intercorporeality of the living to the living, and also of the living to the dead. Emblematic of the ghostliness of language are the human remnants at Auschwitz, especially the hundreds of artificial legs that become a figuration for the poet in secession, who writes in exile or retreat from the unassimilable. Through the trope of language as “prosthesis,” Pato and Moure translate what otherwise is intranslatable. “A poem is prosthesis, technology for life,” writes Pato (125); “Voice, analgesics. The poem as uptake inhibitor,” echoes Moure (124).

Mutant territories are prosthetics for the lost originals.

3) Barbara Guerrero (Western). “The Bio-Fictional: The Untranslatable Frida Kahlo in Biography.”

My paper examines the untranslatability of historical subjects in biography. I argue that despite the biographer’s intentions and attempts to remain truthful to the historical subject, this subject cannot be fully portrayed via biography. Rather, I contend that in attempting to translate the historical into the biographical the authors construct a fictionalized subject insofar that they imaginatively recreate a historical subject. I address Raquel Tibol’s Frida Kahlo: An Open Life and Andrea Kettenmann’s Frida Kahlo, 1907-1954: Pain and Passion, and the fictionalization of Frida Kahlo in their biographies. The historical Kahlo cannot be fully translated in biography insofar that the authors mold Frida Kahlo into specific identity frameworks. For example, while Tibol idealizes and romanticizes Frida, portraying her as an exemplary woman, Kettenmann uses the narrative framework of the “destined to be a great artist” to portray Frida’s life. Moreover, as in the case of translated works whereby part of the original substance of the work is lost or compromised in translation, I argue that in the biographer’s attempt to construct her identity, the biographical Kahlo is gradually removed from the historical Kahlo. Their use of evidence and their biographical methods offer at best a biased portrayal of Frida, for they rely on subjective interpretation and fictional methods to portray Kahlo. The biographers make deliberate omissions, and thus oversimplify Kahlo, which points further to the untranslatability of Kahlo’s life. I, thus, argue that the historical subject cannot be fully translated into a biographical subject insofar that the biographical subject is a fictional construction, imaginatively recreated by the authors and molded on the basis of certain biographical focuses.

4) Ramanpreet Kaur (Western). “Translating the Occident: Shakespeare in India.”

My paper aims to study the translation and adaptation of Shakespeare in Post Independence cinema of India. Shakespeare was imported to India by the Imperial touring companies in Calcutta and Bombay around 1775, and by the 1850, Shakespearean plays began to be translated and performed in Indian regional languages. Initial translations and adaptations of Shakespearean plays can be termed as faithful translations preserving the “foreignness” of the text and performativity. Though recent cinematic productions break away from the colonial imposition and universality of Shakespeare and his plays are provincialised, and rendered “domesticated” (Ashok Bery). The cultural interaction between India and Shakespeare has transited from an artifact of elite culture, and ended in the localized and hybridized popular culture. In the paper, I will look at Vishal Bhardwaj’s movies Maqbool (2004), Omkara (2006), and Haider (2014) which are translated and adapted from Macbeth, Othello, and Hamlet respectively. The hybridized screen of above mentioned movies provides a radical postcolonial response which enables hybrid subjects to resist and subvert the rigid demarcations imposed by colonial discourses. While problematizing the transculturation of Shakespeare the questions of race, mimicry, hybridity and location will be analyzed.

(1.) Sedgwick, The Coherence of Gothic Conventions, New York: Methuen, 1986, 13.

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