Annual Graduate Student Conference

Most Recent Conference

Life After the Fall: Ruins in the Literary and Cultural Imaginary

Department of English 13th Annual Graduate Student Conference, University of Ottawa

Friday, February 28th, 2020, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 29th, 2020, 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 1st, 2020, 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

2020 Conference Program (2020 Conference Program, 751.2 KB)


And on the Pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works ye Mighty and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias”


"We are most interested in thinking about how ruins might be figured not only as the ending of something, but also as the beginning of something else." - Hannah McGregor, Julie Rak, & Erin Wunker, Refuse: CanLit in Ruins

Ruins have been a consistent object of interest throughout the history of cultural productions, often used
as powerful representations of individual and collective affects of psychic complexity. Whether reflecting
on the links between witnessing and testimony, temporality and place, community and memory, or
“anxious” cultural and political moments of change, the image of the ruin evokes affects of not only
destruction and impermanence, but also resilience. Ruins are also a testament to the tenacity of people to
manipulate their surroundings and build structures to their own advantage, as well as emblematic of the
human potential to outlast their own constructions. Ruins are evidence of what once was, and evidence
that different forms of life can survive without. Literature and culture consistently bear witness to various
forms of ruination whether in the form of literal ruins, or in the form of personal or collective fall. We
invite presenters to reflect on the representation of ruins in various cultural moments and forms, and to
trace collectively how the daunting image of ruins provokes literary, cultural, and political expression.

Potential topics can include, but are not limited to:
• Memory and Post-Memory
• Mourning and Necropolitics
• Hauntology
• Witnessing and Testimony
• Preservation and Loss
• Refuge
• War, Persecution, and Genocide
• Colonial Contact
• Nationalisms and “Anxious States”
• Queer Theory
• The Apocalypse/Post-Apocalypse
• Cold War Fiction
• Hi(Stories)
• Affect Theory and Sentimentality
• Place and Spatiality
• Modern Ruins and/or Ancient Ruins
• Fragments and Fragmentation
• Ruined Reputations (Cancel Culture)
• Intersectionality and the Fallen Woman
• Ruins and Posthumanism
• Environmental Degradation

Feel free to contact our conference organizers at if you have any questions.

Past Conferences

(2019) The Age of Anxiety: Literary Studies in a Culture of Risk 

Past EGSA Conferences





Back to top