Call for Papers – Winter 2018 issue

Call for Papers


19th Annual Graduate Student Conference
March 2-4, 2017
Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
Presented by the Graduate Programs in Comparative Literature, Hispanic Studies, and Theory & Criticism
Western University invites you to take up the topic: Toxic/cities

at the 19th Annual Graduate Student Conference, to be held from March 2-4, 2017 in London, Ontario, Canada.

Historically, the city has been considered a place of civilization, modernity, and opportunity; yet, for many the city is also a site of exploitation, excretion, and contamination. Millions of immigrants flocked to Ellis Island with the hopes of finding a better life in New York City; however, for many, the American Dream was shattered by the reality that the city can be monstrous and barbaric. Spanish author García Lorca wrote in his poem “The Dawn”: “The light is buried under chains and noises / in impudent challenge of rootless science. / Through the suburbs sleepless people stagger, / as though just delivered from a shipwreck of blood.” While some successfully navigate this darkness, many people encounter a place full of toxins and decay. A city that is both living and dead.

As Italo Calvino puts it in the last part of Invisible Cities, “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.” The city, like an organism, is permeable and vulnerable to the very toxins it produces. People inhabiting toxic spaces can revel in this darkness or try to resist it. Decay itself can be revitalizing or lethal; dead communities can come alive. Conversely, the liveliest of communities can succumb to toxins and die.

This conference seeks to examine literary, historical, and theoretical investigations of toxicity in spaces, including but not limited to cities, suburbs, countrysides, or imaginary spaces. Topics for discussion include notions of abjection in literature and theory, contamination of language and degradation through translation, garbage art, indigenous eco-visions, rabid consumerism, scientific fallout, and disposable cultures. We encourage submissions from across these disciplines: literary, critical and cultural theory, cultural studies, philosophy, digital humanities, linguistics, film studies, visual arts, history, anthropology, and sociology. We invite submissions on:


  1. Authors, languages, theories, cultures, texts, films, and artworks that depict contamination or decay.
  2. Decay in communication caused by literary, linguistic and cultural barriers, silence, censorship, semantic ambiguity, practices and cultures of ineffective language acquisition.
  3. Toxic consequences of:
    1. language evolution and variation, dialect contact, language attrition.
    2. birth of monstrosity, mutation, madness, mad science.
  4. the pharmakon, dark vitalism/ecology, immunitary logics
  5. Recovery from periods of decline and decay (coming out of toxic environments).

(Toxic) City

  1. Studies of spaces including but not limited to urban, suburban, rural, or imaginary spaces from a variety of approaches such as ecocriticism, sustainability, digital humanities, the Anthropocene, dystopian theory, etc.)
  2. The collapse or metamorphosis of religious institutions, political systems, social values, or economic policies that are in decay.
  3. Resistance to decay, ways of expressing resistance, autopoeisis as counter-discourse, immunization / inoculation, coping mechanisms, resolutions to toxic issues, positive visions of social cohesion.
  4. Decay as productive of underground networks of communication and speculative theory,

Related fields and topics may include:

Feminist studies
Cultural studies
Queer studies
Indigenous studies
Disability studies
Translation studies
Visual Arts
Creative Writing / Expressions
Film studies
Utopia / Dystopia
The Post-human
Experimental arts
The Dark Web

The Scattered Pelican accepts full-length journal articles (4000-5000 words) as well as critical reviews of books, films, and artworks (1000-1500 words). The word count must be inclusive of the Works Cited and endnotes, and all texts must follow the latest MLA style. If submitting a journal article, please include a brief abstract and 2-3 keywords. The Scattered Pelican is a double-blind peer reviewed journal; as such, to maintain the integrity of the anonymous review process, please ensure all identifying marks and personal information are removed from your submission.

For more information on the submission guidelines, please refer to the “For Authors” section of our website.

The deadline of submission for manuscripts for this issue has now passed.