CALL FOR PAPERS/APPEL À COMMUNICATIONS Writing Trans Genres: Emergent Literatures and Criticisms May 22-24, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg Manitoba

What is or might be Trans Literature? Transsexual, two spirit, genderqueer and
transgender literatures? What are or might be trans genres, narratives, figures,
poetics? How do we think about what makes writing trans? Recent anthologies such
as The Collection and Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetries and Poetics,
last spring’s Trans Poetics Symposium in Tucson, conversations on the pages of
Lambda Literary and on numerous academic panels all attest to a dramatic increase
in the visibility of trans writing, and what’s more, to a new urgency in thinking through
the question of how trans writing is read. At the same time the history of trans and two
spirit representation is largely a history of our misrepresentation by non-trans and nontwo
spirit peoples, and our self representation necessarily contends with that legacy.
Inspired by conferences such as Women and Words / Les femmes et les mots and
anthologies like This Bridge Called My Back, this conference aims to develop critical
lenses for reading trans literatures. One needn’t be an academic to do intellectual
work, and writers, readers and community members can and do engage critically
without being situated within the university. In fact, some of the most critical work may
come of speaking back to sites of institutional knowledge production. Even as two spirit,
genderqueer and trans identified writers are enjoying unprecedented ability to publish
in commercial, literary and scholarly venues, as well as forming our own presses and
journals, access to these forums continues to be relative, inflected by multiple forms of
privilege and oppression, as well as by aesthetic and political affiliation. As such, this
call for proposals is an invitation to writers, scholars, performers, critics, activists and
community members to participate in developing critical contexts for reading and
interpreting an emerging body of literature by transgender, transsexual, two spirit and
genderqueer writers, on two spirit, trans, and genderqueer terms.
Possible topics to be explored include:
• How do trans identities and histories relate to the form, content, publication,
circulation, reception of our writing?
• Trans Writing and orality, story telling, performance, spoken word.
• How is trans writing inflected by experience, identification, influence,
politicization, culture, privilege, oppression?
• How do linguistic, national, class, ethnic, cultural and racial locations shape
writing by trans, two spirit and genderqueer writers?
• Writing as a form of narrative (or non-narrative) self-fashioning.
• How might writing relate to practices of daily life, of transition, spirituality,
• How might creative writing and performance be ways of doing politics (or
making theory)? How do these practices relate to other ways of doing politics
(and making theory)?
• How do we write without a trans tradition? Within many traditions?
• Are there unknown histories of trans literary production? How do we read a
history of writing that is not visible or identified as trans?
• How do we think about the popular readings of transsexual memoir as
conservative and conventional? Is formally experimental writing also necessarily
politically progressive?
• Conversely (how) have trans writers taken up Sandy Stone’s 1989 call to enact
or produce “a set of embodied texts whose potential for productive disruption of
structured sexualities and spectra of desire has yet to be explored?”
• How might translation (linguistic, cultural, generic, medial) induce trans genres
and genders?
• How might we think through the productive, disjunctive and identity political
work of translation and its failure, for example in the transformed meanings of
gender and genre between French and English.
• (How) might one put one’s body into language in a context of changing sex, or
expressing gender? How does one write being in or across the between?
• Is trans literature a minority literature, or several? A minor literature (or
• (How) do trans, genderqueer and two spirit writings engage and/or contest
transnational constructions of gender and sexual (minority) identity?
• What genres and figures have been important for two spirit, genderqueer, and
trans-identified writers, and writers with transsexual histories?
• What forms, modes, or genres of criticism might be best suited to trans, two
spirit, and genderqueer writing?
• What relations exist between trans writing and criticism and indigenous,
postcolonial, queer, minority, sex worker and feminist creative and critical
This is an invitation to entertain these questions, and to pose new ones.
Proposals for academic papers and panels, as well as for artist’s workshops and
performances, are welcome. Papers should be suitable for presentation in fifteen
minutes; panels proposed should include between three and five participants;
workshops may be proposed for either one or two hour blocks. Performance proposals
should indicate whether they are better suited to presentation within a group reading
or within the conference cabaret.
Please submit 250 to 400 word abstracts for papers, workshops and/or
performances by February 15, 2014. Panel proposals should include a 200 word
panel description as well as individual abstracts. You will be informed of the status of
your proposal on March 1, 2014.
Presenters will be encouraged to upload full papers, workshop outlines, and/or
relevant secondary materials to the conference website in the first week of May.
Highlights of the symposium (keynotes and the opening plenary) will be streamed live
on the web. Recorded conference proceedings will be digitally archived, and publically
accessible online.
Please submit proposals to and indicate in the subject
line whether your proposal is for a paper, panel, workshop or performance.
For all other questions and concerns, please write to and indicate in the subject line: query.
Conference Registration
Registration Fee:
Sliding scale: (Salaried/full time: 120$, Part time/contract: 40$, unwaged: 10$)
Keynotes and daytime readings: free and open to the public.
Other registration details: TBA
Writing Trans Genres is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council, and co-hosted by the Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies, and the
Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Winnipeg.