The spotlight is once again on conference presentations to be given by uWaterloo English graduate students at Congress 2012. The range of topics is fabulous! And truly represents the diversity of research being undertaken here.
Lamees El Athari will present “Recollecting Motherhood in Dunya Mikhail’s ‘Bag of Bones’” at ACCUTE. Lamees is a 2nd-year PhD candidate working on Iraqi-North American women’s memoirs.
Abstract: In her poem “Bag of Bones” (2005), Iraqi-American poet Dunya Mikhail presents her readers with unembellished insight into the Iraqi war scene from the perspective of the Iraqi mother. Rarely voiced in past Iraqi war literature, the Iraqi mother has always been viewed as a boundless patriot who supports men’s heroisms at the battlefront, which has denied her identity as a mother figure. However, Mikhail contemplates a counter narrative to this stereotypical female role through the depiction of a woman who is forced to recollect her fragmented motherhood both literally and emotionally.
Sarah Gibbons will present her paper “Here’s to the Fatal Future”: Risk, Crisis, and Resistance in Dionne Brand’s Ossuaries” to ACQL/AQLC. Sarah is a 1st-year Ph.D. student, and her research interests are disability studies and posthumanist philosophy.
Abstract: This paper examines the representation of crisis in Dionne Brand’s Ossuaries with reference to theoretical conceptions of history and contemporary analyses of risk. I argue that the poem undermines an ordered narrative of progress, and presents an alternative genealogy of resistance to the repression and toxicity of the contemporary world.
Kevin Ziegler will be presenting “Sketchbook Vernacular: Contemporary Canadian Graphic Narrative as Social Documentary” to ACCUTE. He is a 4th-year PhD candidate finishing up a dissertation on Canadian Graphic Life Narratives. His research interests include life writing, graphic narratives, and Canadian literary history.
Abstract: This paper assesses the extent to which works of contemporary graphic narrative have idealized the ‘visual vernacular.’ I examine methods of authorial self-presentation that depend on the compositional strategies of the sketchbook.
Lauren Burr will be participating in two panels for the Canadian Game Studies Association. She’s a 1st-year PhD student in the digital media stream, studying locative media, specifically location-based games and narrative. Her formal paper is entitled “Building a House of Lexia: The Displacement of Player Agency in a Locative Game.”
Abstract: In this presentation I will introduce House of Lexia, an augmented reality game and critical remediation of Mark Z Danielewski’s experimental print novel, House of Leaves. I designed and built the game using StoryTrek, the Carleton University Hypertext and Hypermedia Lab’s proprietary authoring software for locative hypertext narratives. Rendering Danielewski’s textual labyrinth as a geospatially sensitive hypertext, the StoryTrek system allows readers to become embodied, interactive players within a real-world space, configured in this particular narrative as the Navidson house. At the same time, House of Lexia denies the level of freedom and personal agency implied by most theorists of locative media. Instead, it retains the uncanniness of the novel as players naturally feel that they are being monitored by the surveillance device that alternately guides and deceives them as they move through space. This paper questions the largely unspoken, dystopian implications of these new location-aware technologies. In addition, I argue that the displacement of agency from the player onto the puppet master provides a more critical gameplay that complicates the rhetoric of reader/player/ empowerment underlying theories of both locative media and hypertext.
The second panel Lauren will participate in is a Games Institute roundtable discussion with uW colleagues Neil Randall, Karen Collins, Michael Hancock and Kent Aardse, on the orchestration of an Alternate Reality Game, which will take place at Congress. The panel is called “Organizing a Political Alternate Reality Game: Processes and Pitfalls.”