CFP: 55th Annual Comparative Literature Conference: Outcasts and Outliers in Literature, Music, and Visual Arts

Kathryn Chew's picture
Call for Papers
April 7, 2021 to April 8, 2021
California, United States
Subject Fields: 
Literature, Cultural History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Music and Music History, Film and Film History

The Comparative World Literature Program at California State University, Long Beach,
invites abstracts for presentations at its 55th annual conference in Long Beach,
California on the topic of Outcasts and Outliers. In accordance with university policy,
this conference will be virtual. It is the hope of the conference committee that this
virtuality will enable a more diverse group of academics to participate.

From the canon wars of the 1980s and 1990s to the debates over the place of genre
fiction, popular culture, and digital media in the classroom, to the more recent
amplification of critical race and ethnic studies and the appreciation of creative
production by people from historically marginalized groups, the question of what to
include—and what to omit—continues to provoke debate and response. But what do we
do with those texts, topics, and people who have been cast out, or those who are such
outliers that they were never included? Likewise, how do we challenge the authority of
those who wield the power to decide who / what is included?

This conference will focus on examining and interrogating the notions of outcasts and
outliers of literature, music, and the visual arts. That may mean attention to little-known
texts, genres that are not typically addressed in a Comparative Literature context,
characters and communities pushed into the margins, and the notion of marginality
itself. We encourage papers centering the perspectives of Black, indigenous and
racialized people of color and other marginalized communities.

We invite papers on the following topics:
• Ambivalent, hybrid, fragmented, or conflicting identities
• Mixed race and interracial interactions
• The interstices of ethnicity, gender, and race
• Intra-racial and inter-racial discrimination
• The alienated “other” as a trope
• Vulnerability and precarity in the time of COVID-19
• Sites of erasure and institutional violence (e.g., deportation centers, police
brutality, healthcare policies, lack of emergency response to natural disasters)
• Questions of trans and genderqueer identity
• Settler-colonial legacies of injustice
• Afrofuturism, speculative fiction, and inclusive futures
• The concept of misfits and misfitting
• Intersections with disability justice, crip time, and embodied difference
• Kinship, community, and the politics of care in the margins
• The exilic intellectual (e.g., Said)

We are thrilled to announce that the Plenary Talk will be given by Dr. Theri Pickens, Professor of English and Chair of
Africana at Bates College. The title of Dr. Pickens’ talk is: “After almost 100 days: Race,
Disability, and A Head.”

Proposals for 15-20 minute presentations should clearly explain the relationship of the
paper to the conference theme, describe the evidence to be examined, and offer
tentative conclusions. Abstracts of no more than 300 words (not including optional
bibliography) should be submitted by February 15, 2021. Please submit abstracts as a
Word document as an email attachment to (
Please do not embed proposals in the text of the email. The conference committee will
review all proposals, with accepted papers receiving notification by March 2, 2021.

Contact Info: 

Dr. Kathryn Chew, Director of Comparative World Literature