CALL FOR PAPERS – Deadline December 11th, 2015.

From Reinforcement to Resistance: Books as Cultural Agents & (de)Colonial Agents

Books, texts, films and other cultural artifacts are often viewed as objects without any inherent agency other than as representations of human action or authorial intention. New opportunities for engaging book history are arising from new materialist, more-than-human, and postcolonial theories, and this year’s colloquium seeks to foster some of this burgeoning research. Recent scholarship, such as that of Bruno Latour, has been influential in positioning objects as social agents, while Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has illuminated how books and curricula have functioned as tools of cultural destruction.

We seek out papers, and panels, that explore the agency of books and particularly their role in the (re)production, maintenance, or destruction of ideology. Books and other media have the potential to serve as more than passive sites through which humans exert power. We are interested in how books have supported, subverted or resisted colonial regimes and other forms of oppression, including re-education schemes. We welcome papers that move away from dichotomies of support and resistance, asking how have books nuanced, altered, adapted, tempered, ignored, or appropriated aspects of colonial or cultural regimes.

We welcome applications from graduate students working in any era, region, and discipline.

Possible sub-topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Control over book production and publication (including censorship)
  • The unintended legacies and multifarious receptions of books
  • Studies of books and curricula from Canada’s residential schools
  • Colonial traces: archives, documents, and other objects complicit in
    imperial and colonial power structures
  • Projects aiming at decolonising books, print, archives, and documentary sources
  • Encounters between print and oral practices
  • The role of digital media in relation to regimes of control
  • Books and the “practice of everyday life”: books as sites of small-scale tactics of resistance
  • Books as active social agents in religious texts and practices
  • Sentient books and texts in literature
  • The many lives of a single book or text in relation to a colonial project
  • We encourage paper and panel proposals from students in all disciplines. The conference is open to students outside of University of Toronto as well.


    Paper proposals: supply an abstract of 150-200 words.
    Multi-person panel proposals: supply a brief overview of the proposed panel theme and 150-200 word abstracts for each panel presenter in one document.

    Deadline for paper and panel proposals is December 11th, 2015.

    To submit an abstract or for further inquiries, please contact:

    We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in March!