Conference Responses in the CFP for this year’s GLITS Annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference, contributors were asked to consider and critique the role of the outsider across a series of disciplines.
The results were a conference that challenged my previous assumptions and position-related limitations while simultaneously encouraging an open dialogue on the existence and role of outsiders as more processual than fixed in nature. While I attended many thoughtful panels—“Memory and Identity” and “Outside the Canon” stand out for the ways they pushed my understanding and expectations of work by J. D. Vance, Albert Camus, Kathy Acker, and the Beat generation—it was the conference’s plenary that continues to unfold and inform numerous conversations I have with colleagues and peers. Given by Fiona Curren, the Director of Koestler Arts, the plenary dealt with the promise and complexity surrounding a criminal justice charity focused on the arts. Curren’s discussion of the charity’s annual awards program and exhibitions invited conference attendees to interrogate the ways in which individuals who are incarcerated are forced into outsider positions because of the stigma surrounding their sentence. Our dialogue on the affective implications of prisoner art, particularly in relation to the family and friends of prisoners and victims, was as illuminating as it was challenging. I left the GLITS Conference feeling grateful for Curren’s talk and its reminder that the positionality of the outsider is often fraught and complicated by the heft of its very real-world associations.
Vanessa Evans, York University, Toronto
I am grateful for having been given the chance to participate in the GLITS’ Outsider conference last summer. It gave me the possibility to present my research on G. Anders-Stern, who in the English speaking-world, is highly unknown and therefore an excellent example of an outsider. Moreover, the interdisciplinary nature of the conference produced two major positive outcomes, the first one related to the fact that Anders’ work provoked intriguing questions from the audience as well as the organisers, which I hope will illicit researchers to adopt some of the Andersian categories. Second, in terms of my research, having such a vast group of researchers from different fields of study coming together enabled me to introduce this same interdisciplinary aspects to my own work, which fits perfectly with Anders’ life and works. Last, but not least, the conference gave me the opportunity to learn about other intriguing research conducted inside and outside Goldsmiths University, which would have not happened without the efforts of the organisers who planned such a successful conference.
Filippo Ursitti, Goldsmiths College, University of London