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CFP 2019

CFP: "Fear and Paranoia: Forging Meaning in Chaotic Times"

16th Annual Red River Graduate Student Conference | March 1 and 2
North Dakota State University

The complete conference PROGRAM can be found here

Keynote Title: Forging Meaning: Critical Reading in the Writing Classroom

Dr. Holly Hassel, Professor of English 
(North Dakota State University)

Joanne Baird Giordano, Assistant Professor of English
(Salt Lake Community College)

Brief overview: Giordano and Hassel will share research findings from five related research studies they conducted to examine two-year college students’ transitions to college-level critical reading and source-based writing.

In 1997, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading” surfaced as an introduction to Eve Sedgwick’s (ed.) Novel Gazing: Queer Readings in Fictions. The U.S. political and cultural climate at the time might have been described by the sociologist and author of The Culture of Fear, Barry Glassner, as a time when “Americans live[d] in perhaps the safest time in human history.” Yet despite the decreased rates of crime, documented drug users, and increased quality of life, many fears permeated the minds of U.S. citizens across the political spectrum. Given the rhetoric of fear we daily confront in the news media and social networks that structure our interpersonal relations and the ecological insecurities characterized by the ever-persistent modes of Western crises (the political climate, economic uncertainty, Huntington-like cultural clashes, and jeopardized notions of public safety), Glassner further suggests that the core to these and related concerns “lie[s], in large measure, in the immense power and money that awaits individuals and organizations who can tap into Americans’ moral insecurities” and “deploy narrative techniques to normalize what are actually errors in reasoning.”

Twenty-one years after Glassner, philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum in The Monarchy of Fear calls attention to articulations of fear grounded in political materiality: “A majority of my students, many acquaintances, many colleagues, feel and say, often with anguish, that our democracy is on the verge of collapse, that the new administration is unprecedented in its willingness to cater to racism, misogyny, and homophobia.” We are constantly faced with the question of how to address a pervasive sense of fear. Perhaps one way to conceptualize this struggle is through Eve

Sedgwick’s framework of “reparative reading”—a response to critical theory’s “prescriptive” paranoid reading through which something new is foreclosed by premature critical “knowing.” By contrast, “reparative reading,” while leaving us vulnerable in unknowing, also opens us to the possibility of knowing otherwise and making meaning through engagement. “Reparative reading” is a methodology through which we might recover what it means to acquire knowledge in these times of prevailing fear and paranoia. Further, we follow Sedgwick in asking: what do we do with this knowledge? Paranoia is easy. Fear is easy. However, we need to explore how we can engage with our current social and political context to forge meaning in our chaotic times.

In light of these questions and in the historical context of our current times, the Red River Graduate Student Conference is inviting proposals for papers and panels related to and committed to helping us think through the theme of “Fear and Paranoia: Forging Meaning in Chaotic Times.” Presentations should be 15-20 minutes in length, and proposals may be sent to Mike Bittner at

Proposals will be considered on topics relating to the forging of meaning, at the sites of knowledge, epistemology, and hermeneutics as well as how meaning has been “forged,” historically, during moments of crises both in meaning and representation. Areas of focus might include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Communication and Global Politics
  • Rhetoric and Sociolinguistics
  • Literature
  • Pedagogy
  • Creative Writing
  • Business and Technical Communication
  • Native American Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Queer Studies
  • Critical Ethnic Studies

The registration fee for conference participation is $35 if submitted online by February 10. Alternatively, registration is $40 if paid at the door. Important conference updates will be periodically sent to presenters via email.

Abstracts of about 250 words should be submitted by February 1
. Early submissions are encouraged. Please submit your abstracts and direct any questions to Mike Bittner at

2019: "Fear and Paranoia: Forging Meaning in the Writing Classroom" with Keynote Speakers Dr. Holly Hassel (NDSU) and Joanne Baird Giordano (Salt Lake Community College)

2018: "Authority, Agency, and Activism: The Construction of and Resistance to Power through Language and Literature" with Keynote Dr. Chris Anson (North Carolina State University-Raleigh)

2017: "Hearing Marginalized Voices: Otherness, Statelessnes, and Cultural Isolation" with Keynote Dr. Victor Villanueva (Washington State University)

2016: "Creating Sustainable Future On and Off the Page” with Keynote Greta Gaard (University of Wisconsin-River Falls)

2015: "The Field in Motion: Past, Present, and Future of English Studies" with Keynote Amy Devitt (University of Kansas-Lawrence)

2014: "Combining Conversations: A Multidisciplinary English Conference" with Keynote Donna Campbell (Washington State University)

2013: A Decade of Branching Out: A Colloquium for English Scholars" with Keynote Kirk St Amant (East Carolina University-Greenville)

2012: "Interdisciplinary English Studies"

2011: with Keynote Joshua Gunn (University of Texas at Austin)

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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Last Updated: Friday, March 01, 2019 10:46:22 AM
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