Closing Remarks

Dear QUEUC Attendees,

It has come to my attention that many people do not know why the QUEUC logo is a duck, or why we refer to delegates staying in Lennoxville as our ducks. Some people seemed puzzled (though thankfully not insulted) that we called them ducks to their faces. So allow me to solve the mystery:

The logo is a duck because QUEUC sounds like QUACK.

That’s it. Only reason. Moving on.

Except I hope that you don’t move on. I hope that you analyze and overthink and ponder. That you’ve been inspired by a paper, a conversation, or a question, and that new theories or points of view have opened themselves up to you. I hope that you’ve learnt a new term, or are excited to read a new book or watch a new movie. I hope that you have been reinvigorated, and are ready to defend the Humanities to someone who wonders about the point of it all. I hope that you are ready to interrogate the world around you, and that you have left more equipped. I hope that you host literary Cranium nights, and share interesting articles on Facebook so that other ducks can see and comment. I hope that the community we created over this weekend continues to exist in some small way.

I hope all these things for you, because these are all the ways that QUEUC has impacted me. So thank you with a cherry on top J You are all amazing.

Hope to see your name on next year’s list,



PS: Fill in testimonials! I sent you an email on Sunday. These help QUEUC get funding, and remind the university system that the Humanities matter.


Natives, Interlopers, and the Rightful Inheritors: Colonial and Postcolonial Tensions in Stargate: Atlantis

By Laurel Rogers

Stargate: Atlantis, a popular American science fiction television show that ran from 2004- 2009 and a sister series of the longer-running Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007), is in many ways a traditionally colonial science fiction story. As a mass-market series arising from the American Western genre and produced for a specifically American audience, the show employs many colonial stereotypes in the propagation of a neocolonial American agenda. Yet, upon closer examination, Stargate: Atlantis does not always fully support the so-called “American Dream” of expansionism into space, occasionally subverting the neocolonial discourse expected of it. These incidents of destabilization are not necessarily overt, and are not necessarily viewed by the audience as such, but they nevertheless create a space in this popular science fiction work where the dissonance between colonial discourse and postcolonial challenges to that discourse can be explored. By examining two such instances in the first three seasons, I hope to illustrate the subtle ways in which a neocolonial discourse is articulated, but also disputed, in Stargate: Atlantis.

American science fiction television is typically classified as stemming from the Western genre, as literalized in Star Trek’s labelling of space as “the final frontier” (Johnson-Smith, 1). The largest and most popular examples of the genre generally manifest as what Uppinder Mehan categorizes as colonial (as opposed to postcolonial) science fiction. The Western relies on expansionist underpinnings, constantly attempting to “conquer” and domesticate the “Wild West”; critic Jan Johnson-Smith contends that science fiction retains that basic relationship, Crossing Borders 40 simply replacing “the West” with the universe (46-48). “Modern American sf television,” Johnson-Smith says, “... is individualistic, progressive, technically and aesthetically innovative, scientifically secular, potent, humanist, democratic—even egalitarian: it is the quintessential American Dream” (2). Yet when the universe is not conceived of as empty, the drive to conquer or domesticate extends to the literal alien other, thereby imposing the “American Dream” on the aliens—an act which places it within the realm of colonial literature. With its focus on “rescue” and “salvation” from an oppressor already in place (an alien species known as the Wraith), Stargate: Atlantis seems to occupy a particularly neocolonial, rather than traditionally colonial, position.1 As the film and television industries have been recognized as important vehicles of ideological dissemination, however, especially in reference to American cultural neocolonialism (De La Garza), this seems an appropriate emphasis. Produced by an American corporation for an American audience with conspicuously American protagonists, leaders and agendas, Stargate: Atlantis does appear to conform to this neocolonial ideology, especially in the main characters’ intersections with less-technologically advanced societies (which are by far the vast majority, apparently, in the Pegasus galaxy).

This categorization of Stargate: Atlantis as colonial, however, is not as clear-cut as it may first appear. Firstly, the classification of the show as fundamentally and entirely “American” is challenged by Gaile McGregor and Stan Beeler, who each explore the Canadian production influence on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis (the series are both filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, with Canadian writers, directors, producers, and actors). As well, the show’s narrative alternately utilizes and undermines colonial and neocolonial tropes. Many times the members of the Atlantis expedition do “rescue” vulnerable Pegasus galaxy societies from each other and from the series’ main antagonist group, the Wraith, invoking a colonial “rhetoric of protection” (Spurr 34); their attempt to liberate a planet of children and young adults from a “barbaric” custom of ritual suicide at the age of 24, however, paradoxically exposes this planet to the Wraith (episode 1.6, “Childhood’s End”). The Wraith themselves, vaguely humanoid in appearance, are eventually revealed to be genetically half-human and half-parasitic insect. Not only does this complicate the complementary binaries of good/bad and human/other (alien) typically present in colonial discourse, but it leads to an exploration of individual and group identity, the meaning of “being human,” and the ethics of scientific research and experimentation as well as its practical deployment through a series of experiments performed on unwilling Wraith over the second and third seasons of Stargate: Atlantis. Atlantis expedition doctors and scientists attempt to develop a “retrovirus” that will suppress the insect half of Wraith DNA, thus effectively turning Wraith into humans. The retrovirus is created with good intentions—by turning the Wraith, whose vampiric feeding on the “life force” of humans is required in order to survive, into humans themselves, they would eliminate the threat facing humankind as a whole, as well as the uncomfortable feeling that arises in both the characters and the audience from finding the members of the Atlantis expedition in the position of the colonised rather than—as expected—the coloniser. But this exposes a distinctly human and imperial bias; it presupposes a hierarchical placement of the human species above the Wraith species, and ignores any instances Crossing Borders 41 (literal or metaphorical) of similar activity in human history. The stance essentializes the entire human race (a feature of David Spurr’s colonial discourse trope of appropriation, discussed in more detail below), and it draws attention to the hypocritical colonial assumptions from which the urge to “fix” the Wraith arises. With all the moral and ethical questions raised in their execution, the experiments of course do not go as planned, and the technology is both violently opposed by the Wraith and then eventually seized by them for use on each other in the facilitation of their civil wars. The ramifications of the experiments are never fully resolved; their spectre hovers uncomfortably in the background of the Atlantis expedition’s subsequent interactions with the Wraith. The show’s presentation of—but inability or refusal to solve—such moral, ethical, and colonial dilemmas for the viewer locates the show in a liminal space in between colonial and postcolonial literature, in which these postcolonial musings can be subtly expressed to a public perhaps unfamiliar and uncomfortable with them.

In its treatment of the various alien and/or non-Earth-based human cultures, Stargate: Atlantis often employs specific tropes that Spurr identifies as elements of colonial discourse. For example, it often presents various Pegasus galaxy “natives” (a term used by the show) as primitive, backwards, and unable to develop due to periodic Wraith cullings, thereby implicitly ranking their societies below Earth’s (“classification”) and glossing over their histories prior to contact with the Atlantis expedition (“negation”).2 Yet, as it does with Wraith-human relations, the show often subtly problematizes the colonial tropes and attitudes it portrays. Episode 16 of the first season, called “The Brotherhood,” simultaneously uses and repudiates what Spurr calls the trope of appropriation, or the colonizer’s assumed right to the physical and cultural space they enter. Rhetoric of appropriation, according to Spurr, “implicitly claims the territory surveyed as the colonizer’s own”; the colonizer, rather than the “native,” therefore becomes the rightful “inheritor” (28). The planets of the Pegasus galaxy are widely populated by humans, who are nonetheless portrayed and referred to as culturally “backwards” in comparison to and technologically “inferior” to humans from Earth. Members of the Atlantis expedition see themselves—and by extension the entire Earth-based human race—as the rightful inheritors of the Atlantean technology and legacy. No real justification is presented for this assumption: their superiority seems self-evident in their moral positioning as “the good guys” and in the supremacy of their knowledge and technology (after all, they, not any other group of humans, were able to discover the secrets of and operate the Ancients’ technology). Every subsequent achievement of the show’s protagonists therefore serves to legitimize their self-proclaimed position as the Ancients’ successors.

In “The Brotherhood,” however, this assumption of due inheritance is contested by the human inhabitants of the planet Dagan. The episode centers around the search for a powerful ZPM, a kind of battery, the protection and keeping of which had at one time assumed a religious importance to a group of Daganians called “the Brotherhood,” who were charged with its protection until the Ancients came to reclaim it. The episode’s plot follows Atlantis’ first contact team’s Indiana Jones-esque treasure hunt to discover the ZPM’s hiding place, and their attempt to prevent an enemy society, the Genii (more technologically advanced than most Pegasus Crossing Borders 42 societies, on the verge of developing atomic weapons, and strongly visually identified with a Nazi stereotype3 ), from stealing it. Eventually they manage to obtain the ZPM and escape the Genii, only to discover that the Daganian anthropologists working with them to recover the ZPM are actually the current manifestation of the Brotherhood. Having realized over the course of the episode that the current occupants of Atlantis are not returned Ancients and regarding them therefore merely as human squatters, the Daganian Brotherhood forcibly recover and remove the ZPM from the team, presumably hiding it in a new location for further safeguarding.

The Daganians’ denial of the Atlantis expedition’s inheritor status can of course be interpreted in myriad ways and on myriad levels. From the perspective of the series-long narrative—the most obvious and obviously intended reading—this episode comes in a long line of frustrated attempts to locate desperately needed power sources, this one placed on Dagan specifically for the use of the Atlantis expedition thanks to the time-traveling efforts of the expedition’s leader, Dr. Weir. The series also, as Michael Young notes, expressly associates members of the Atlantis expedition, especially Dr. Weir and John Sheppard (military commander and team leader) with the Ancients (108-109). In this sense the audience is meant to perceive that the Brotherhood’s denial is unjustifiable, and it shows the Daganian’s lack of true perception and judgement, ultimately reinforcing their implicitly lower status. “Sadly” for the Daganians, Young comments, “they have not recognised that Weir and Sheppard and their team are the second coming of Atlantis” (109).

But the Daganians’ response begs the question: how sad—and how incorrect—is this judgement really? How worthy of the Ancients’ legacy are the members of the Atlantis expedition? To what extent does their ability to decipher the language and technology of the Ancients before any other groups empower them to claim inheritor status, and does the very act of appropriation support the expedition’s right to appropriate the Ancients’ resources and knowledge? In general, the ideology of Stargate: Atlantis operates under the colonial assumption that the expedition is worthy of heirship, righteous and superior to any civilization already extant in the Pegasus galaxy. As many examples throughout the series and the few mentioned above prove, however, the members of the Atlantis expedition are not infallible; in fact, they often behave rashly, highly prejudicially, and with a sense of colonial entitlement. The series’ early opening to ambiguity around and interrogation of the prevailing colonial myths prepares for eventual moments of their outright refutation: rather than being accepted as the rightful heir of the Ancients, for example, the members of the Atlantis expedition are actually unceremoniously kicked out of the city when a lost group of Ancients suddenly appear and reclaim their city. Of course the balance is restored within two episodes: firstly, for the practical reason that the show cannot continue if the protagonists are not in Atlantis and have no hope of returning there soon, and secondly because the show as a whole tends towards gentle questioning and partial destabilization of, rather than categorical negation of, colonial myths. In the end, the members of the Atlantis expedition usually do win; the costs and long-term ramifications, however, are not always entirely self-congratulatory.

Crossing Borders 43 Not all science fiction produced from a dominating or neocolonialist context such as the United States is necessarily a colonial work. Mehan terms such “writers from within the centre” who “offer important critiques of the process and effects of colonization” dissidents (169). I would not go so far as to situate Stargate: Atlantis as dissident; it does, however, hover on the edge of dissidence every time it recognizes and questions its colonial underpinnings. I also do not want to overemphasize the show’s tension between colonial and postcolonial discourse—in the majority of episodes and to most viewers, watching the show purely for the pleasure and fascination of an enjoyable science fiction experience, the tension may not consciously register (except in its narrative manifestations). Furthermore, the show’s refusal to outright address these issues can lead to an impression of their default acceptance. But to a critical viewer, the dissident moments in Stargate: Atlantis indicate a slight shifting of its popular discourse away from the dominant neocolonial form.

Attending QUEUC with Allergies

By Unknown 

Edited by Sylvia Duarte


To all those Duckies with allergies planning to attend, here is a post to make you feel a little more at ease.

The first and best thing you can do before attending is inform us of your allergies or dietary restrictions.

  • be specific about your list of allergies or allergy
  • tell us your concerns (we don't want frantic and anxious Duckies running around the conference wondering if they can eat something or not)

Find a volunteer or Professor Riddell and inform them of your dietary restrictions and they will point you in the right direction. They can talk to the staff and ensure that what you want to eat won't kill you or make you sick.

We have vegetarian and Gluten Free options. If dairy is an issue, let us know (or maybe have some Lactaid on hand). If you are Vegan please advise before attending so we can ensure that you will be able to eat something.

Just a tip for people with allergies: bring snacks if you feel unsure or want a little something off menu or to tame a random food craving.

Also as an FYI for people who want some little extras or wonder where they can get food at night (if you are a night owl or like to party):

  • there is a Tim Horton's on Campus if you ever need a fix (although they will not be open on Saturday and they close early on Friday)
  • party seekers can go to The Golden Lion Pub for a microbrew or late night McDonald's 24hr window in Downtown Lennoxville (students just walk up to the drive-through window and order [and yes we know we are special here])

Quarterbacks Say: Movies

We asked our quarterbacks and coordinator which movies they like watching on a lazy day This is what they said:

Tabitha (Coordinator) – “Easy A”

Sylvia (Communications) – “Old Disney Channel original movies like Smart House, Get a Clue and Halloweentown are some of my favorites.”

Juliet (Communications & Vetting) – “My favorite lazy day movie is Oceans 11, and I can’t wait for the all-female reboot to come out!”

Rosemin (Vetting) – “I dunno about movies, but lazy days are great for Battlestar Gallactica”

Tori (Registration) – “My favorite lazy day movie would be the Princess Diaries”

Vanessa (Social and Registration) – “21 & 22 Jump Street”

Gabrielle (Social) – “Austenland or A Cinderella Story (or anything Disney!)

Roads, Rubbish, and Toilets: Kerouac and Abjection

By Katie Oats

“Literature...represents the ultimate coding of our crises, of our most intimate and most serious apocalypses. Hence its nocturnal power.” — Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection

To call themselves a “beat generation” (Charters xx) meant more than just a tag with which the group of mid-20th century writers could label themselves with, or a group to belong to; it was a vision. “Beat” was an ethos that was set into motion by aspiring writers, John Clellon Holmes and Jack Kerouac, during a late night conversation about “social trends and cultural changes” that the newly acquainted friends were having over drinks in November of 1948 (Charters xix). Kerouac officially coined the term after the publication of his first novel, The Town and the City, and it has since stuck with this group of rebellious, inassimilable post World War II writers. It spurred a movement that would give voice to “a generation of furtives” who felt a “weariness with…all the conventions of the world” (Charters xix). In exploring the novel through the lens of Julia Kristeva’s theory of abjection, it can be reasoned that the presence of 38 the abject was deeply rooted within Kerouac’s life from an early age, and continued to be a central interest as the community of Beat writers formed. The abject can then be traced throughout On the Road in the characters’ thoughts and actions, as well as Kerouac's writing style, and understood as a consequence of the unavoidable and ominous abjection that was present since his childhood.

Kristeva articulates various facets of the theory of abjection in Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. While the multiple layers present in this text have the potential to produce fascinating analyses, the sections about abjection’s “otherness” and lack of objecthood; the loathsome qualities for which it becomes expelled; the dejectedness that causes it to stray; the sense of hope and renewal that emerges from it; and the cathartic powers of literature, yield particularly interesting insight for exploring Beat life and its correlation with On the Road.

As a shy and introverted child, Kerouac was determined to fulfill his dream of becoming a successful writer, despite ridicule from his schoolmates for aspiring toward this non-masculine normative career (Antonelli). His early schooling was a strict training in obedience and submission. In an attempt to break from the educational institution’s constraints and the harsh criticism from his peers, Kerouac accepted a football scholarship to Columbia University in 1939 in defiance of being labeled a “sissy” (Antonelli). In relating the events of Kerouac’s life to Kristeva’s theory of abjection, an analysis of her piece “Neither Subject Nor Object” is useful. Here Kristeva writes that the abject is not “a definable object;” rather, it is a “violent, dark revolt of being,” that which is “opposed to I” (7). In this instance, the I signifies his peers, the dominant, collective group, and Kerouac signifies the abject. The abject is “radically excluded” and “reject[ed]” by I because of its opposition to it and its ideologies (Kristeva 1). The abject “repuls[es]” while simultaneously drawing in I by acting as a means for which it can define itself by; that which it is not (Kristeva 1). By opposing dominant ideology and aspiring toward a non-normative career, Kerouac poses a threat to the subjectivity of the centripetal—his peers. Thus, he is rejected and derogated by them. His existence reaffirms their conformist ideologies as normal, while also reaffirming their identities by defining themselves by what they are not—Kerouac. Furthermore, by accepting Columbia’s football scholarship in defiance of the label “sissy”, Kerouac “does not cease challenging [his] master” (Kristeva 1), i.e., the centripetal.

While at Columbia, Kerouac bonded with like-minded aspiring writers, such as Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, and William Burroughs, who also opposed the modern conformist ideologies of the time (Charters 8). These writers formed what has come to be known as The Beats, “a small bohemian group that came together in the 1940s and was vaulted from anonymity into the public eye in the 1950s following the highly publicized appearance of Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and Kerouac’s On the Road” (“Sordid” 11). These texts “appeared just as a vigorous public debate about conformism was reaching its peak” (“Sordid” 11). Aside from writing, the Beats sought to establish a centrifugal space on the margins of mainstream society in which they could escape from the homogeneity of 1950s American conformity and explore their individuality (“Sordid” 12). They did this by living adverse lifestyles involving “homosexuality, addiction, and petty crime” (“Sordid” 23), largely in opposition to the ideologies of the centripetal. Subsequently, the bohemian group was alienated; left to navigate their way through the confines of the centrifugal and find solutions to the deficit of opportunities for artists in post war industrialization (“Sordid” 14).

As a continuation of Kerouac’s abjection, the Beats adopted this role in relation to mainstream society. Again, Kristeva’s “Neither Subject Nor Object” is useful in viewing the Beats as abject. In this liminal position, they “[lie] outside, beyond the set, and [do] not seem to agree to [I’s] rules of the game” (Kristeva 1). Their “appalling studies of the night” (Kerouac 126) including, but not limited to, homosexuality, promiscuity, and drug and alcohol abuse signifies the abject—a “violent, dark revolt of being...ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable...[i]t lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated” (Kristeva 1). Thus, this way of life could not have been accepted by mainstream society as it was viewed as “[a]n ambiguous reality...inspir[ing] ambivalent feelings” (Bourdieu 56) for its nonconformity. In living lives viewed as adverse to the mainstream and defying dominant societal values, they were rejected by the centripetal. Additionally, as the Beats refused to adhere to the ideologies of the centripetal, they viewed the marginalized centrifugal as a place of “possibility in an American modernity that seemed increasingly homogenous” (“Tenement” 60).

Kerouac’s rejection of mainstream ideologies in his early school years and again later with fellow non-conformist Beat writers precipitated his injection of the abject into his writing. Here, the sections “The 39 Improper/Unclean,” “An Exile Who Asks, ‘Where?,’” and “The ‘Chora,’ Receptacle of Narcissism” provide useful insight in elucidating the abject in On the Road. Kristeva articulates that the presence of a cadaver is “the utmost of abjection” (4). It breaks the borders between life and death, by “[showing] what I permanently thrust aside in order to live,” that is, “body fluids” (Kristeva 3). The body “extricates” these on the border of life, and “such wastes drop so that I might live, until, from loss to loss, nothing remains in me and my entire body falls beyond the limit— ...cadaver (Kristeva 3). These wastes signify the other side of the border, that which is repugnant and “the most sickening” (Kristeva 3). In breaking down this border, I is thus the one being expelled, and the “elsewhere” of death is now “jettisoned, abjected, into ‘my’ world” (Kristeva 4). Kerouac alludes to the image of a corpse in chapter eleven of part three in On the Road when Sal Paradise relates an anecdote from his life in 1942:

I was the star in one of the filthiest dramas

of all time. I was a seaman, and went to the

Imperial Café on Scollay Square in Boston

to drink; I drank six glasses of beer and

retired to the toilet, where I wrapped myself

around the toilet bowl and went to sleep.

During the night at least a hundred seamen

and assorted civilians came in and cast their

sentient debouchments on me till I was

unrecognizably caked (231).

The corpse reminds us of the limits of life, and here, huddled around a place of disposal, Sal’s body has reached its limit. Inebriated to the point of unconsciousness, Sal has polluted his body into vulnerability, unable to cease the abuse of debouchments. Consumed by refuse to the point of unrecognizability, he is no longer himself; rather, he is a “jettisoned object” (Kristeva 2). Sal’s body signifies the irrevocably rejected abject corpse, repudiated by those who encounter it.

The seemingly endless journeys that Sal and Dean continually embark on across America are reminiscent of the abject, as the lifestyles they lead simultaneously attract and repulse them. The “Depression-era anxieties of what America represents as opposed to what it might and should represent” (Spangler 312) are significant to Sal and Dean’s motivation for travelling. At a time when “cultural hegemony [was] sought at the expense of individualism” (Spangler 313), Sal and Dean were journeying coast to coast hoping to discover ulterior spaces that were free for the exploration of their individuality. They use “the highway as an escape route from repressive culture” (Spangler 320), rather than adhering its hegemonic expectations— steady jobs, monogamous relationships, stable homes, etc. Life on the road “fascinates [their] desire” (Kristeva 1). They travel coast to coast four times, as each time never seems to fully satisfy their need for freedom and excitement. They crave the experience of everything the impetuous highway has to offer—vast and unexplored landscapes, diverse peoples, various narcotics, bars, and whorehouses. However, they recognize that the realities of living life on the road are not exclusive to all that attracts them. Intertwined within Sal’s enthusiasm for their spontaneous journeys are contradictory descriptions that elucidate a sense of repulsion toward the open road: “the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road” (Kerouac 239). The harsh realities of the vast and mysterious “rolling foothills” (Kerouac 171) and the “vast expanse” (Kerouac 59) of highway are not the pure “sweet, singing bliss” (Kerouac 175) that they continually yearn for.

Upon returning home and parting ways with Dean, Sal recognizes that fleeing the homogenized centripetal does not always offer a superior alternative: “I gaped into the bleakness of my own days” (Kerouac 240). This suggests that continuously embarking across the country is not always entirely fulfilling. Rather than feeling “exulted” (Kerouac 132), Sal feels desolate. Disregarding any previous disappointments, they repeatedly traverse the expansive highway in an act of rebellion against the conformities of the laws and expectations of the centripetal—stealing gas and groceries, while never maintaining permanent jobs or homes. They even endeavor to escape from these confines: “lets go to Italy...We’ll go dig all the crazy women in Rome, Paris” (Kerouac 184), yet they always stay within America’s borders. Sal and Dean simultaneously yearn for and loathe America. The contradictory feelings and views that they have toward it elucidate notions abjection, a sense that they are being drawn in to it while simultaneously pushing it away.

Kerouac presents us with scenes of the abject, however aspects of it can also be found within his writing style. The abject infects Kerouac’s writing much like Kristeva’s cadaver represents “death infecting life” (4), with Kerouac writing in a “series of violently oxymoronic narrative twists” (Ellis 128). In a broad scope of the novel, these contradictions can be found ubiquitously in the descriptions of sporadic Dean. Throughout the novel, Kerouac designates Dean using epithets 40 connoting great superiority: “saint” (188), “Angel” (259), and even “God” (205), descriptors which are completely contradictory to: “rat” (285), “madman” (43), “crazy” (210), and “devil” (213). They are oxymoronic in that Sal alternates between using terms to praise Dean and ones to degrade him. This literary technique represents the contradictory action of abjection that one encounters while simultaneously being repulsed by and drawn toward an object. Kerouac employs this technique as well when describing cityscapes. Upon Sal’s return to New York, centered within Times Square, he says, “seeing with my innocent road-eyes the absolute madness and fantastic hoorair of New York” (102). Describing the city using contradictory adjectives again invokes feelings of the abject, leaving the reader to question whether Sal is rejecting or embracing it, particularly since he continually leaves New York for the West coast. Kerouac writes in an emulative style to the contradictory aspect of abjection by juxtaposing oxymoronic terms and phrases. As such, it can be asserted that the abject has infiltrated his writing as it has infiltrated his life.

Amidst the rubbish, refuse, rags, and scum that Kerouac presents to us, there lies deep within, a small sense of hope and renewal that emerges from within abjection. In Kristeva’s “An Exile Who Asks, ‘Where?’” she articulates that “[t]he one by whom the abject exists is thus a deject who [separates] [himself] and therefore strays instead of getting his bearings...belonging” (8). For the dejected, the encompassing world causes him to:

Constantly question his solidity and impel

him to start afresh. A tireless builder, the

deject is in short a stray. He is on a journey,

during the night, the end of which keeps

receding. He has a sense of the danger, of

the loss that the pseudo-object attracting

him represents for him, but he cannot help

taking the risk at the very moment he sets

himself apart. And the more he strays, the

more he is saved (Kristeva 8).

Dejected from the centripetal, the Beats, and thus Sal and Dean, signify Kristeva’s journey of the stray. They are “making [their] appalling studies of the night” (Kerouac 126) as they continually stray “all the way across the country” (Kerouac 18). Searching for centrifugal spaces where they are free for the exploration of individuality is a continuous journey. As America was becoming predominantly homogeneous, the sense of a personal identity was continually receding, and thus their journey continued. Yet, these countless journeys led to unexplored territory allowing for new experiences, identities, and personal bonds; as such, they were saved from the homogeneity of the centripetal.

In Kristeva’s “The ‘Chora,’ Receptacle of Narcissism” she further refers to a sense of hope and renewal. Where abjection ends “a start of life, of new significance” (Kristeva 15) arises. An emergence of this sense strikes Sal shortly after he blatantly states that he “[has] nobody, nothing” (Kerouac 163), subsequent to abandonment by Dean, and again by Marylou, in San Francisco. He suddenly reaches “ecstasy” while wandering the streets “across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm” (Kerouac 164). “Ecstasy” is repeated twice in a single passage to explicate his revitalization: “I stopped, frozen with ecstasy on the sidewalk...I was delirious...I tingled all over from head to foot...And just for a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy that I had always wanted to reach” (164). Sal’s rejuvenated sense of self, experienced in the streets of San Francisco, brought him the new significance he yearned for. The notion of moving beyond the death kicking at his heels signifies the start of life that Kristeva discusses, further underscored by Sal’s claim that he has “died and been reborn numberless times” (Kerouac 164).

Again, the notion of renewal arises when Sal, Dean, Marylou, and Ed travel through South Carolina and beyond Macon, Georgia. They “realized that in the darkness all around [them] was fragrant green grass and the smell of fresh manure and warm waters,” indicating they had finally made it to the South and “left the winter!” (Kerouac 132). The trajectory into a new season and location elucidates a sense of renewal. Moving into spring, the season of change and growth signifies “the start of life” (Kristeva 15). The exclamation mark further underscores their feelings of “exul[tion]” (Kerouac 132) upon reaching this pinnacle, and emphasizes the significance of this renewal. Kerouac’s presentation of the abject in On the Road can further signify Kristeva’s theory of abjection when considering her discussion on the process of writing. She explains that the “nocturnal power” of literature aids the writer in his/her

afflictions (Kristeva 208). Literature “represents the ultimate coding of our crises, of our most intimate and most serious apocalypses,” and the process of writing offers a cathartic release for the writer (Kristeva 208). By inserting scenes illustrative of the abject and using descriptive terms evocative of it, Kerouac can thus relieve himself of the abject feelings precipitated by his own life 41 experiences through the cathartic process of writing. His close relationships with fellow Beat writers also provided a means for working through his afflictions by collaboratively working with and among like-minded individuals. By participating within the liminal, subcultural community of those who share the same ideologies, Kerouac was provided with a sense of comfort and security— others with whom he could identify.

In writing about his adventures across the country, Kerouac, as a novelist, contributed “greatly to the public recognition of this new social entity [the Beats]—especially by inventing and spreading the very notion of bohemia” (Bourdieu 56). He quickly became the spokesperson for the Beats after his critical acclaim for On the Road in The New York Times by Gilbert Millstein, placing them on the cultural map, and providing like-minded individuals with a new set of values severed from mainstream America. “The glimmer of possibility that emerges at [the] end of the road” (“Sordid” 16), after the commencement of the “whole mad swirl” (Kerouac 11) of the journey, signifies the presence of the abject. It’s an abjection that presented itself early in Kerouac’s life, trailing along through the formation of the subcultural community of “bearded, bedraggled American youths” (Kerouac 261) identified as the Beats. Consequentially, this abjection is injected into the novel through the thoughts and actions of the characters and in the style of writing. In turn, the writing of abjection can be signified as a cathartic working out of emotions, thus lending Kerouac an outlet for the afflictions of his youth, while also providing a sense of identity in “a new collective space” (“Sordid” 18) that is the bohemian centrifugal.

How to Present at QUEUC

By Tabitha Hartropp

First things first: your presentation should be between 12-15 minutes. It can be shorter, but please do not go over time, as a courtesy to the other people on your panel.

Why Present?

The goal of the presentation is to showcase the content of your essay to a group of your peers, so that they may gain knowledge and raise critical questions about your topic, in order to further both groups’ understanding. This is also your chance to defend your idea a second time, as the vetting committee will be circulating at the conference on the lookout for quality content for the publication.

The presentation also opens the paper up to a large group of people who may or may not be familiar with the topic, to promote greater learning and analysis. You WANT people to ask questions – that’s how we learn. 

What to Present

When preparing to present, remember that your audience is not reading the essay, and therefore able to process it in their own time. Your audience is listening and does not have the luxury of re-reading complex passages. Additionally, your audience may not be familiar with the source text. Your job is not to be smart: it is to be kind. Summarise your source text before beginning, and review quickly any important theories. When defending an important idea, have it written on a slide, so that the more visual people in the room have a touchstone; same goes for your thesis and any important quotations. If you want to be super nice, you will state a point, defend the point, and then state the point again.

PowerPoint is your friend here. It will help keep you on track and will help the audience know what to focus on. Film presentations can throw up some screenshots; books can refer to thematic images. Powerpoint can also be used to refer to points beyond your argument – ways to push the argument further (a presentation on feminism in Goblin Market could have a slide wondering about the portrayals of monstrous masculinity for example).

One other tip: have some questions ready. At the end of the panel, the floor opens to audience questions. This is an exciting time for discussion but usually starts with silence, as the audience has just absorbed so many ideas. Help them out – raise a few questions yourself. You can also comment on your own ideas here, such as pointing out another angle.

Of course, you do not have to do any of these things. These are merely suggestions, gleaned from sitting in QUEUC presentations for two years. If you do not think you need a PowerPoint, then don’t make one. You need to be comfortable in front of your peers, so you do you.

One thing I will ask: do not read your paper. I have been to QUEUC as a delegate, and presentations, where the paper is simply read, are difficult to follow. Not because the ideas are not good, or the person is not articulate. But because the presenter was a little bit nervous, or forgot people were trying to listen, the presenter ends up speed-reading out loud, and understanding the ideas is like trying to watch a movie in fast-forward. You can read your paper – just make it a dramatic monologue, and not a tongue twisting exercise.

Enjoy your preparations! I hope I didn’t make it sound too scary. It’s fun I promise

Why You should come to QUEUC if You’re not Presenting

By Tori Cryan


I have gone to QUEUC twice now and neither time was I a presenter. Both times were different but both times were really awesome. I had a lot of fun because QUEUC is so much more than talented undergrads presenting their papers, it is an experience.

At QUEUC you get the chance to hear some insightful, original, and well thought-out ideas from this generation of undergrads from all over the country and beyond. You get to meet, exchange ideas, and become friends with them and other non-presenters which in turn expands your scope of knowledge and perspectives.

The panels at QUEUC touch on many different areas and genres. There are so many interesting panels that at times it’s hard to choose which ones you go to. The panel discussions after the presentations allow you to interact with the panelists or hear the answers to questions you may have never thought of yourself.

Outside of the panels there are some great events that let you be the social butterfly you are or, like in my case, the humble observer you are. Social events like Cranium will test your knowledge in a friendly team competition fashion. Cranium never fails to entertain and amuse and guarantees that you will create memories that last forever.

QUEUC is hosted at Bishop’s University, a diverse university in both its students and faculty and its beauty. The “Harry Potter” campus is quite picturesque and is perfect for sighting-seeing and selfie-taking. The small-town Lennoxville community is both charming and full of history. Any local or Bishop’s student can give you many a story and are very willing to share when asked.

Being a non-presenter means you don’t have to stand and talk in front of a bunch of people, you get to sit back, learn, and participate at whatever capacity is comfortable for you. Registering for QUEUC also means that will be feed! Nothing’s better than someone else making meals for you!

Lastly, QUEUC is a unique experience that you will not find anywhere else. It’s an opportunity you should grasp and take advantage of RIGHT NOW! Go! Register already!   

Do’s and Don’ts of QUEUC

By Unknown

Edited by Sylvia Duarte



  • Be prepared to listen
  • Get involved in the conversations
  • Give constructive criticism
  • Ask the panelists questions
  • Keep your Panel Chair informed of any changes in your presentation
  • Have fun at the social events
  • Come to the guest lecture


  • Don't show up without advising about allergies
  • Don't stick only to your group
  • Don't avoid the social events
  • Don't avoid talking to the organizing committee
  • Don't text or talk during the presentations
  • Don’t leave the room loudly during a presentation

If you have any questions e-mail us at

Quarterbacks Say: QUEUC

We asked our quarterbacks and coordinator what is their favorite thing about QUEUC. This is what they said:

Tabitha (Coordinator) – “Talking in between presentations about the new topics”

Sylvia (Communications) – “I love listening to the really obscure papers that get presented”

Juliet (Communications & Vetting) – “My favorite thing about QUEUC is the panels, because they without fail broaden my thinking about certain themes, novels, or authors.”

Rosemin (Vetting) – “Conversations you would ooonly have at an English conference.”

Tori (Registration) – “I love attending the panels at QUEUC it makes me feel like there are many things the Humanities can offer.”

Vanessa (Social and Registration) – “Cranium Night”

Gabrielle (Social) – “I like how we all get to work together”

Countdown to QUEUC: Planning your trip to Bishop’s University

By: Maryclare MacIsaac


With QUEUC only a few weeks away, it’s time for all of the lucky external delegates to get down to the details and plan your trip here! QUEUC is hosted at Bishop's University, which is located in Lennoxville, a small community within Sherbrooke, QC. The street address is 2600 College Street, Sherbrooke, QC, J1M 1Z7. In this post, we will answer all of your questions about how to get here.  

Getting to Lennoxville…

By Plane: Sherbrooke is served by Pierre-Elliot Trudeau International Airport in Montreal. Once in Montreal, delegates will need to arrange travel to Sherbrooke, which is about 2 hours away.

          Aeronavette (Aeroshuttle) is a shuttle service which operates between Pierre-Elliot Trudeau and Sherbrooke. You must pre-book your shuttle online, and they will either drop you off at Tim Hortons in Sherbrooke or take you directly to your destination for an extra fee. The round trip fee to Sherbrooke is $120 with the shuttle and $90 for a one way seat.

By Bus: Limocar is the main bus line running from Montreal to Sherbrooke. The price of a Limocar student ticket is $35. Once you have arrived at the terminal in Sherbrooke, it is approximately a 10 minute ($15) taxi to Bishop’s University or you can get on the #2 bus (make sure it is going in the right direction) and it will bring you to the campus. The bus fare in Sherbrooke is $3.30.

Driving: Take the A10 East from Montreal towards Sherbrooke. Take exit 140 onto the 410 towards Rue King Ouest. Take the Rue Belevedere S exit from the 410. Turn right at College Street. Bishop's University is located at 2600, College Street, just after the bridge.


Note: Another option is to join our QUEUC Rideshare Facebook page. On this page you will be able to post if you are looking for or offering a ride. This is also a good way to find out if anyone else in your school/area got into the conference and a nice way to meet people before the conference takes place.


If you have any more questions or concerns about getting to Sherbrooke please e-mail us at



Gentilesse In Chaucer: A Discussion in Duplicity

By Tristan B. Taylor

Wittgenstein writes: “if a lion could talk, we wouldn’t be able to understand it” (235e). This does not mean that language does not transcend time and space, but rather, that language, though universal to some degree, is temporal and an understanding of any given language is contingent upon a collective meaning established in a period. That is to say, experience and understanding are intrinsic aspects of language. Wittgenstein understood languages as a game, and in many ways language is a game. All languages can be studied through this perspective. Since language is temporal and connotations of signs are dependent upon a period, terms and phrases can become diluted or transformed entirely as time progresses. Assuming Wittgenstein is right, and language requires experience, how are scholars of medieval literature able to transcend this barrier to engage with the language of the period? The answer to this question has significant implications given the study of medieval literature, especially literature that begins to be written in the vernacular, i.e. Middle English, and not Latin. In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer utilizes terms like gentilesse and trouth as a critical tool to subvert his audiences understanding of their meanings. However, since the fifteenth century, there appears to be a significant regression in the meaning of these terms in translation. Though it may be difficult to determine the factors that lead to the simplified meaning of gentilesse, we can begin to understand the original intention behind this concept through intra-textual evidence and begin to participate in Chaucer’s language game.

This paper will determine the common usages for the term gentilesse and its contemporary meaning through a close examination of the source text. I will be discussing The Canterbury Tales in general as well as the “Clerk’s Tale,” the “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” the “Merchant’s Tale,” and finally, the “Franklin’s Tale,” specifically. Gentilesse is a complex concept that, as Alan Gaylord explains, “out of context, gentilesse is not easy to define because it includes the ideas both of good lineage, specifically, and good morals and manners, generally” (20). When we discuss gentilesse, it is important to keep this complexity at the heart of the discussion and search for its various forms and functions and develop the reasoning behind its complexity. That being said, Chaucer manipulates these two understandings of gentilesse throughout these four Tales: first, that gentilesse is an indication of noble birth; and second, that gentilesse describes a virtuous life.

All of the tales that will be discussed are thematically similar in that they all provide a discourse on marriage and the multiple perspectives that exist surrounding the conception of gentilesse and marriage roles. In The Franklin’s Tale, we see how marriage and gentilesse work together to weave a narrative of moral virtuousness in nobility. Contrarily, in The Merchant’s Tale, we see the dissolution of a marriage based upon the preconceived perception of what true gentilesse is, and how the term is misleading. Bernard Levy highlights how the Wife of Bath and the Clerk both perceive gentilesse, since they both illustrate how “a man of gentle birth but lacking true gentilesse is converted by a woman of low birth but possessing true gentilesse” (307).

Gentilesse conveys many meanings and can be simply understood as noble birth, but it is also a conceptual term describing virtue, purity, and honesty in deed. Chaucer manipulates the use of gentilesse by describing characters as gentil, in regards to the social standing of the knight January, in the “Merchant’s Tale,” but also as moral virtuousness in regards to Griselda in the “Clerk’s Tale.” Because of the flexibility of gentilesse, Chaucer has the poetic and authorial prerogative to play with the various meanings; the consequence of which is the ironic circumstances that he writes to introduce the reader to the term and its variance.

In the “Clerk’s Tale,” we see the difference between two different views on gentilesse. In one case, gentilesse, as viewed by Griselda, is simply noble birth. Contrarily, Walter, views gentilesse as a moral and virtuous lifestyle. The Clerk sets up this dichotomy throughout the tale by having Walter pursue a gentil woman. He does not seek a woman of noble birth, as society would prefer, but rather, he seeks a morally virtuous woman. When Walter first meets Griselda he feels, “in his herte hir wommanhede/ And eek hir vertu passynge any wight” (239-40). He notices that it is her virtue that surpasses all other persons. This is indicative of the view that gentilesse is not born but a virtuous gift, or as Levy writes that it is “not a matter of birth, but rather of goodness derived from divine grace” (307). The dichotomy of gentilesse is manipulated to discuss the reader’s understanding of the term. In other words, it can be surmised that during the fifteenth century there must have already been much discussion about the meaning of gentilesse. It appears to us now that gentilesse already had had these two very different meanings. However, we as the modern reader cannot participate in the language game that the reader of The Clerk’s Tale participates in, and we therefore must rely upon clues in the text, such as the phrasing of Griselda’s description as “vertuous,” “the faireste under sonne,” and having a “sad corage” (211, 212, 220).

We then learn that, according to Walter, gentilesse possesses the attributes of constancy, honesty, and purity, but oddly enough, these terms are never phrased as simply gentil in our modern translations, but instead divided up as their own ideals. In other words, the reader must infer from the text what gentilesse means, as it is never stated directly through the text. Furthermore, throughout The Clerk’s Tale the term gentil and gentilesse are only ever glossed as “noble.” If we look at one modern translation of the Tale, we see that gentilesse has simply been translated as noble (Penguin 322). Where does this second meaning of gentilesse appear that we connect it with this term and not as its own ideal?

The “Wife of Bath’s Tale” indicates, like the “Clerk’s Tale,” a more conceptual definition of the term gentilesse. She argues that gentilesse is not necessarily just a birth right, but can be divinely inspired. In her prologue, the Wife of Bath describes scripture as a “gentil text” (CT 29). It is obvious that the Wife is not intending to mean that gentil means noble birth, but she is indicating that the term means something more elevated, more akin to pure or virtuous. This is the first indication that perhaps gentilesse does not simply mean noble birth. There does exist, however, this duality of meaning in the glossing of this specific passage. Since it is once again glossed as noble, we are lead to an interesting alternative preliminary conclusion. That is to say, perhaps gentilesse is most aptly defined as noble, with the caveat that there are many connotations of nobleness, and this binary of meaning, this apparent dichotomy, still exists today in modern English. And yet, we have moved from the French term gentilesse to the more Anglicized term noble, where it can mean both royal but also virtuous.

In the Wife’s Tale, we see the very definition of gentilesse that the reader expects to see, given the theme of virtuousness and marriage. In the tale, the hag describes to the knight what she believes to be gentil. Thus, we see the Wife of Bath’s opinion surrounding gentilesse. As Levy points out, the hag views gentilesse as a “God-given virtue made evident in noble deeds” (108). We see that this ideal gentilesse is explored further in the tale and as:

                                    Christ wole we clayme of hym oure gentilesse,

                                    Nat of oure eldres for hire old richesse.

                                    For thogh they yeve us al hir heritage,

                                    For which we clayme to been of heigh parage,

                                    Yet they nat biqueath for nothyng

                                    To noon of us hir vertuous lyvyng. (1117-22)

Essentially, the Wife of Bath argues, through the voice of the hag, that true gentilesse is from God and the degree of birth does not indicate one’s gentilesse. It is clear from both the prologue and from the tale that the Wife of Bath views gentilesse not as a birthright, but as a God-given virtue that all beings can possess that is independent from degree or rank. The following two tales, the Merchant’s and Franklin’s, are conveniently similar enough that they should be discussed simultaneously as the theme of gentilesse, its usage, and its interpretive meaning are nearly identical. Critic Hugh Holman discusses in his article “Courtly Love in the Merchant’s and the Franklin’s Tales” how “the conventions of courtly love form the basic structural patterns for the Merchant’s Tale and the Franklin’s Tale’” (Holman 251). This central aspect of courtly love and noble entitlement plays the pivotal role in the usage and meaning of gentilesse and as such these tales should be studied within close proximity to each other. The critic Gertrude M. White explains how the Franklin’s “view of ‘gentilesse’ comes from a world of romantic adventure” (White 454). This being the case, the reader gets a preliminary glimpse of what gentilesse might mean in this Tale, given the reader has previous knowledge about the court, love, marriage, and gentility in medieval romances. Without much further study, we can expect to see how, unlike the “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” gentilesse is explicitly an inherited trait. We can begin to extract from this assumption and read the Tale with this conceptualization of gentilesse in mind to see if, like the other tales, Chaucer plays with the word, weaving it into the narrative as a key theme.

In the “Franklin’s Tale,” we encounter three primary characters who all possess, to some degree, the characteristics of gentilesse in its various forms. Arveragus, the knight, is born gentil, and his wife, Dorigen, is lowly yet possesses the virtuousness of a gentil lady, however, she tends to be misleading in her actions towards the squire, Aurelius. Finally, like the knight, Aurelius, is born gentil. After a year of marriage, Arveragus:

                     Shoope hym to goon and dwelle a yeer or tweyne

                     In Engelond, that cleped was eek briteyne,

                     To seke in armes worshipe and honour. (809-11)

While Arveragus is away, the grieving Dorigen wishes her husband to be home, but promises to Aurelius that she will sleep with him should he manage to remove the rocks that are endangering the returning ships from England. The illusion of the rocks disappearing allows the squire to complete his end of the bargain, yet Dorigen admits that she would rather die than be with the squire. Eventually Arveragus discovers what has happened, and tells Dorigen that she must comply with her end of the bargain. In doing so, he is living up to the gentil nature that he is described as having since he states “Trouthe is the hyeste thyng that a man may kepe” (1479). To this end, he values that which the hag values most in the “Wife of Bath’s Tale.” In this tale, the knight is initially described as gentil because of his status, but at the conclusion of the tale, gentilesse is taken to be a moral and virtuous ideal that the knight keeps.

Unlike Arveragus, the knight in the Merchant’s Tale is described as gentil, but he possesses none of the moral and virtuous traits the other tales highlight as important. He is in complete opposition to the knight in the “Franklin’s Tale.” White writes “where January remains blind to truth despite supernatural interventions, Arveragus remains steadfast to truth despite the magic of the clerk of Orleans” (456). This complete opposition of character, despite both characters being gentil, indicates again, to the reader, the mercurial meaning of the term. In the “Merchant’s Tale,” January the knight, weds a young woman, May, who cuckolds the old knight by sleeping with a young squire. Here, the idea of gentilesse returns to the basic concept of birthrights and discusses very little about the actual virtuousness of the knight. Levy writes that January “obviously” considers May to be gentil (311), and ironically, she is gentil in her duties to her husband, although unexpectedly so, since her duties were to, “entertain the squire” (312). This inevitably leads to the cuckolding that occurs at the end of the tale.

The use of gentilesse in the “Merchant’s Tale” is once again glossed simply as nobility (1603). Which is consistent with the rest of the tales, but the reader must interpret the term for themselves given the context of the narrative. This leads to complications, since all of the characters are invariably described in this tale as gentil, however none of them portray the moral characteristics of the term like the characters in the aforementioned tales. The only character that arguably shows any evidence for being gentil is January, and this is because of his status as a knight, not because of his actions. This apparent anomaly leads the reader to question the significance of the term in this story, but also the use of the term throughout all of the tales. If there is no real continuity to the term and its glosses and meanings, how do we, as modern readers, associate ourselves with the term that appears so frequently in all of the tales?

Wittgenstein argued that all language is a game, and that in order to participate in the game to any capacity, one would need to understand the rules of the game. If we want to understand the meaning of gentilesse, given the concept’s frequency in The Canterbury Tales, we must look at how it is used. Sufficient evidence supports a dual meaning to the term, however in each case, its meaning changes according to situation. Throughout these four tales, gentilesse is understood to be noble in regards to men. But when this term is used to describe a woman, it is often taken to mean virtuous, leading the reader to believe that gentilesse does have two legitimate definitions. This point raises an interesting question, one that would be worth pursuing the answer to — does gentilesse have a gendered meaning, or rather, does Middle English contain phrases or words that change their meaning depending on who or what they are describing? Whether or not there is an adequate contemporary term to replace gentilesse, and if we should find one, is irrelevant as it is a fruitless pursuit. Gentilesse has encompassed these two meanings for far too long to try to find a modern term to better understand it. It is simple enough to accept this duality of meaning for what it is. Mostly we should be consistent in our glosses and careful in our diction so we do not skew or misinterpret the meaning and take the term out of context. This means then that we should be updating the glosses and not unilaterally defining such a complex term as gentilesse when it means so much more.

QUEUC Accommodations

By Tori Cryan and Maryclare MacIsaac


Need a place to sleep during the conference? On a tight budget? We've got you covered! Our Adopt a Duck Accommodations Program houses you with local Bishop’s students, faculty or community members. This program gives you the chance to save some money and is also a great way to meet new people, many of whom are involved in the QUEUC organizing committee. Your host will provide you with a roof and sleeping space (bed/futon or couch) for one or two nights, depending on your needs, from the evening of Friday, March 10th to the morning of Sunday, March 12th.

Spots are limited and are on a first come, first served basis, so make sure you sign up fast! Please contact to request a spot or to ask any pressing questions about Adopt a Duck! Remember to: specify your name, institution, gender, and any special requirements or restrictions we should note in placing you (e.g. pet allergies, etc.).

If you are a member of the Lennoxville community and are able to take a Duck in for a night or two, please e-mail us!

If you don’t want to go the Adopt a Duck route there are many hotels and motels in Lennoxville and Sherbrooke you can stay at.


Motels and Hotels:

Motel Lennoxville, 94 Queen St.

Right around the corner from the school, about 5 minute walking distance.

Preferential rates for visiting QUEUC attendees.

 2 double bed room $90 per night / 1 double bed room $70 per night

(819) 563-7525


Motel la Paysanne, 42 Queen St.

Very convenient distance from the school, within walking distance. >10 minutes.

$75 dollars per night

(819) 569-5585


Hotel la Marquise, 1700 rue wellington sud

5 minute drive from the school, ~30 minute walk.

  ~$80 per night


Hotel Wellington, 68 Wellington street s.

10 minute drive from school.

Prices start at ~$60 for one, ~$70 for two.


Grand Times Hotel, 1 Rue Belvedere s.

10 minute drive from school

Starting at ~$150 per night.

Note: Ask for the "Bishop's University Rate" when booking hotels. A discount may be available.


We can’t wait to see you!

What the Duckies Need for QUEUC

By Unknown

Edited by Sylvia Duarte

What the Duckies Need for QUEUC

Since the conference is coming up, we figured it would be good to give you a few tips about what to bring for QUEUC.

  • Business casual clothing
    • remember that this is a conference with your peers and that you will be presenting in front of students and some faculty members
  • Bring an open mind and  open ears
    • there will be time for questions at the end of each panel
    • be a part of the conversations discussing social issues and student ideas
  • Bring a notebook
    • you might get new ideas for research or for your next assignments or find new points of interest
  • Bring boots or Wellies (we get lots of precipitation here, some previous Duckies were caught unawares)
  • Bring your Trivia Cracked minds and literary knowledge for our Cranium event!
  • Bring some casual clothes or clothes you use for going out so you can join in the festivities
  • Also, make sure you bring your speech and powerpoint with you (not that I have to remind you).

If you have any questions, email us at

Quarterbacks Say: Spring Break Reading

We asked our quarterbacks and coordinator which books they would recommend or would be reading during our upcoming reading week. This is what they said:

Tabitha (Coordinator) – “Heartless by Marissa Meyer”

Sylvia (Communications) – “Anything dystopian, The Hunger Games, Delirium, The Maze Runner, etc.”

Juliet (Communications & Vetting) – “For Spring Break I recommend Zadie Smith’s “Swing Time” (the best recently published book I’ve read in a while), or for a lighter read “The Devil Wears Prada” is always my beach go-to.”

Rosemin (Vetting) – “My reading list: Danielewski’s “The Familiar” (Vol 1), Vassanji’s “And Home was Kariakoo”, Wohlleben’s “The Secret Life of Trees””

Tori (Registration) – “I would recommend The Falling Kingdoms saga by Morgan Rhodes if you have a lot of free time or The Six Crows/Crooked Kingdom duology by Leigh Bardugo if you don’t.”

Vanessa (Social and Registration) – “Beautiful Chaos – R.M. Drake”

Gabrielle (Social) – “To Kill A Mockingbird: I read it for the first time not long ago, and I thought it was a provoking read.”

Good day to you!

By Gabrielle Lesage 

Last time I wrote an article for this blog I focused on why we still read Jane Austen. Why do you think? Is it her writing style? Her wit and sense of humor? Is it because her texts separate us from our reality that is consumed by technology? Okay, maybe that last point was exaggerated. But in all seriousness, I am very interested in knowing what you guys think!

For this article, I want to focus on Austen's relevance. Is Austen still a relevant read? I promise this post will be unbiased; being an Austen enthusiast I may or may not be bias. In the end, I hope to convince you that Austen is not simply an old spinster with a PJ bonnet for a hat. I am here to bring up some points that support my argument in affirming why it is important to read Jane Austen's novels, even 200 years after her death.

1) She is modern: I know that there are many people who have already said that Austen is a woman ahead of her time. Although I agree with these statements, I would like to provide a different point of view. She was a young woman who had a passion for writing and did not let anyone push her around. When she had problems with publishing companies (i.e. young and old white dudes) when they tried to take advantage of her, she took matters into her own hands, and even bought back her manuscript! She knew what she wanted, and she went for it. That kind of action is admirable, and in times like these it is inspiring to see that we can win the battles we fight for.

2) We learn lessons: Alright, I'll admit, the courting rules and constricting social conventions are not what we see today, but we can still learn a great deal from Austen's texts. Be like Elizabeth and stand up to those that insult you. Be like Marianne and live passionately. Be like Anne and realize that our age does not define the rest of our lives. Be like Henry Tilney and have a chuckle or two at the serious things in life. In the end, Austen's novels show us the beautiful truths in our lives, but also the harsh realities we are sometimes faced with.

3) She is an important part of history: We cannot deny that Austen holds an important place in the history of English literature. Although there were woman writers way before her time period, Austen was revolutionary because she tackled serious issues, such as the difficult grip of economics and the choices we have (or lack of) with our own lives, and she did so with humor and wit. She did not shy away from any topic that she deemed crucial to discuss. She would not be silenced because she was fierce and daring.

In the end, I wanted to share with you some of the reasons why I love Jane Austen and her novels by exploring the idea that she is still an important read, even in the 21st century. I like the saying that the past affects our future, and I believe Miss Austen has left quite the mark.

Cheers to Austen!

Cinderella, As We Know Her

By Elyse Gagne


Inevitably, if one grows up in Western society, one is bound to be exposed to some form of Cinderella. Whether it is in a book of fairy tales, or one of the innumerable film versions, this all-pervasive story can be found referenced throughout Western culture, as a re-telling or as a parody. That a North American child could escape this fairytale entirely is highly unlikely. It seems that we, as a culture, have our own interpretations of ‘Cinderella’, and our own meaning derived from it. This essay will define what ‘Cinderella’ means in Western culture, and examine whether or not a Middle Eastern version of Cinderella fits within our parameters, or whether it is simply its own unique story. I will examine the West’s most beloved versions of Cinderella, as written by Charles Perrault, and adapted by Walt Disney, as well as the story The Maiden, the Frog and the Chief’s Son, by Frank Edgar and translated by Neil Skinner and Moon Brow by Rafique Keshavjee.

According to Linda T. Parsons, there is “widespread popularity in Western culture” (138) of Perrault’s tale: indeed, “in contemporary Western culture, Cinderella has become synonymous with Perrault’s Cendrillon, in large part because it is the version on which the Disney animated movie was based.” (143) Westerners are heavily invested in the Cinderella complex, particularly those who also aspire to the ‘American Dream’. Cinderella centers on the belief that one can become something from nothing. This is represented in Cinderella’s magical transformation from “cinderwench” (Perrault, 16) to a “great princess” (18). The appealing idea is that the servant girl has been a princess all along; since true beauty and glamour comes from within. Cinderella is rewarded for being good, patient, hard-working and humble; essentially, she is rewarded for her Protestant work ethic. In Perrault’s version, Cinderella has “unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper” (16) and she bears her mistreatment “patiently” (16). To add to her virtuous personality, she is also “a hundred times handsomer than her sisters” (16). Therefore, to Perrault, “beauty is equated with virtue” (Parsons, 137). Among her many merits, Cinderella is also meek: she “dared not tell her father” (Perrault, 16) of her abuse, and so she accepts humbly to do the “meanest work of the house” (16) and to sleep in the “sorry garret” (16). Cinderella, like many other fairytales, imposes the notion that “women must suffer, if not be humiliated, NARRATIVIZING IDENTITY 175 before they are rewarded” (Parsons, 137). Indeed, we as a population collectively believe in the “glamorous sufferer or victim” (Lierberman, 194).

When Cinderella is magically transformed for the ball, it is her true nature that is revealed. Not only do her clothes and coach become glamorous, but she becomes “honourable”, “admired,” (19) and she is able to “danc[e] so very gracefully” (Perrault, 19). It is implied that her ability to be noble, and to be the worthy object of a prince’s affection, was within her all along. While Perrault’s Cinderella is sassy, she does not play an active role in her emancipation. She is assisted by her fairy godmother, who “did not work with the protagonist, but merely bestowed rewards” (Parsons, 138). This reinforces the systemic patriarchy in this motif that “passive, beautiful females are rewarded” (137). The appeal for Western audiences lies in the reward: her social mobility is a compensation for her suffering. Cinderella does not have to work to change herself: her problems were always exterior, and not interior, and the transformation is effortless. When we, as audience members, cast ourselves as Cinderella, the process of identification indulges our self-pity and our self-esteem: we like to believe our hard work will be rewarded, and our inner qualities publicly recognized.

e values from it.Thus, from a feminist perspective, the Cinderella story can be seen as a reinforcement of patriarchal values that today are far less applicable in modern Westernized countries. But if that were the only meaning we derived from it, then perhaps the story would have lost some of its popularity. With analysis, one sees the flaws in the story- flaws that would particularly be evident and objectionable to the female audience. However, the Barbie Dolls, lunchboxes and Band-aids adorned with Cinderella’s image indicates that contemporary audiences choose to ignore the intrinsic meaning of the text and derive instead their own positive values from it.

What is so intriguing and lasting about Perrault’s Cinderella are the vivid descriptions of setting and clothing. He disregards the grief and torture (as seen in the less known Grimm Brothers version), so that the story overall is one of rich words with the focus on her magical transformation and the glamorous ball. Overall, it leaves audiences with a positive feeling: Cinderella not only lives happily ever after with her prince, but she also forgives her stepsisters. In a six-page story, only one paragraph is dedicated to the death of the mother, yet there is over a page describing her transformation, and another page and a half describing the festivities. We read far more about the “red velvet suit” and NARRATIVIZING IDENTITY 176 “gold-flowered manteau” (Perrault, 17) and the dress “all beset with jewels” (18) than we do of her suffering. Thus, it is easy for an audience, especially a young audience, to be enthralled with the exaggerated finery and delightful magic than to dwell upon and analyze the patriarchal subtext.

There is also the sense ‘specialness’ and ‘uniqueness’ that makes readers identify with the heroine. After all, Cinderella arrives at the ball and immediately there is “a profound silence” (Perrault, 19). It is as if Cinderella is so stunning, singular and charismatic that the festivities freeze in her presence. She is complimented by everyone, including the king, and spoiled by the prince with “the most honourable seat” and with delicacies. The prince pays attention only to her, “and never ceased in his compliments and kind speeches to her” (20). The emphasis is that Cinderella is the only one the prince admires: he does not dance with, flirt with, or compliment any other women. There is no reason for jealousy or insecurity. Cinderella is without rival for his heart, and this is all she has ever desired: to be loved. This is what is so appealing to Western culture: the profound belief in monogamy, in true love, and complete and utter devotion. Parson argues that “romance ideology is pervasive and seductive, and one can become lost in it”(152). Westerners have become engrossed in the story of Cinderella: it has haunted us since childhood, the never-receding desire to be the sole object of unconditional love. It is tragically anti-feminist, but as Karol Kelley concedes, “feminist ideas are not necessary” (92) to make a story popular.

So what of Cinderella in the Middle East and Africa? What are her desires, and what is the exalted moral at the end of the story? Would Westerners view her as a sister to their beloved heroine, or a foreign concept, with different ideals, the champion of something less cherished than our undying belief in ‘true love’? Both Eastern versions of Cinderella depict the victimized girl in similar patriarchal terms. She is abused by a stepmother while her stepsister is favored. However, there are striking differences in these Eastern stories when they are compared to Perrault and Disney. In The Maiden, The Frog and the Chief’s Son, an African folktale told by Frank Edgar (translated by Neil Skinner), there is evidence of polygamy: not just with the father and his multiple wives, but also with the prince (referred to as the Chief’s Son). In fact, the African tale begins: “There was once a man had two wives” (Edgar, 151). Westerners hold dear to two significant facts from Perrault’s Cinderella: the ultimate inner goodness of the girl, who is vindicated and NARRATIVIZING IDENTITY 177 rewarded for her beauty (and thereby, her work ethic and humility), and the idea of ‘one true love’. Therefore, from the outset of the African version, the Western concept of Cinderella is already shattered: Cinderella, as we know her, cannot exist where polygamy is an accepted practice. If the reader casts herself as the heroine, it is preferable (for Westerners) to be the singular object of affection, rather than one of many wives. Therefore, the African girl never is the prince’s ‘one true love’. Instead, she merely becomes the leader of his “other wives” (Edgar, 155) and “concubines” (155). It is perfectly culturally acceptable to have polygamy in the context of this story, and the heroine accepts it unquestioningly. Many African and Muslim countries have legalized polygamy (MacQueen). Whether one believes in the acceptability of polygamy or not is not the question: it is whether or not polygamy is acceptable to our Cinderella. Certainly, Perrault and Disney’s Cinderella is founded entirely upon a belief in monogamy. Monogamy in Western society is privileged in the New Testament, and polygamy is also still illegal in North America. (MacQueen) Therefore, a polygamist Cinderella is simply oxymoron from a Westernized point of view.

In the Iranian/Afghan story Moon Brow, the girl is guilty of murdering her mother. Instead of a righteous victim, this Cinderella bears the weight of significant guilt, thus eliminating this model from acceptable Western parameters. However, in Moon Brow, the protagonist’s guilt is forgiven. The audience is sympathetic to the girl because she was “convinced” (Keshavjee, 185) by her schoolteacher to murder her mother, and then subsequently “mistreat[ed]” (185) when the woman becomes her new stepmother. The yellow cow that represents the mother’s spirit is kind and forgiving of the daughter, which encourages the audience to forgive her as well. The girl is likewise kind to the cow, giving it her bread and then later “plead[ing]” (187) to save the cow from slaughter. Nature acknowledges and rewards her goodness: a magic rooster, hen and chicks also assist her. Her true virtues (by patriarchal standards) are revealed when she repeatedly “follows the cow’s instructions” (187) to the letter. She demonstrates her obedience when she visits the old woman in the well and “follows directions” (186), and later when she buries the cow’s bones. Her ultimate act of goodness, which perhaps absolves her of the sin of murder, is the fact that she does not steal from the old woman in the well. In this sense, Moon Brow is a better example than Cinderella for women as she is only rewarded after she resists temptation: “when no jewels fall from her clothes, the old woman prays for her to have a NARRATIVIZING IDENTITY 178 moon in the center of her brow” (186). Of course, this story still enforces patriarchal values: Moon Brow’s main quality is her ability to obey orders. Therefore, the fact that Moon Brow murdered her mother is not sufficient to say that she does not fit within the Western definition of Cinderella.

In addition to the polygamy, the courtship process in the African version differs from the Western motif. Cinderella arrives at the dance and the prince is enamored immediately. He favors her the entire evening, and proclaims “She’s the girl I want to marry” (Edgar, 154) when he finds her shoe. However, unlike the Western convention, the girl left her shoe behind on purpose: she was following the orders of her fairy frog-mother. The frog expressly tells her: “when the dancing is nearly over…you’re to leave your golden shoe, the right one, there.” (Dundes, 153) This also happens in Moon Brow. The hen tells the girl: “When you come back, one of your shoes will fall into the water; don’t stop to get it.” (Keshavjee, 188) However, in Moon Brow, there is no courtship at all: the girl is placed “at the head of the guests” (188) and she “dances” until “the stepsister recognizes her” (188). There is no mention of meeting a prince. The prince happens to be “riding by the waterside,” (188) finds her shoe and decides to marry the owner of the shoe, even though he has never seen her.

Are these discrepancies acceptable to the Western definition of Cinderella? In short: no. We as a culture value monogamy and as a part of the monogamy, we value the courtship that precedes it. Granted, the courtship process in Perrault’s and Disney’s Cinderella is minimal. It is a matter of a few short sentences, hardly acknowledged, but it does exist. It is intimated that the prince and Cinderella have a lovely evening together in conversation and in dancing; he is struck by her immense beauty, but enchanted by her virtues and personality. That is why he “followed” (Perrault, 20) after her when she rushed away at midnight; that is how he knew he wished to wed the wearer of the shoe. What’s more, Perrault’s Cinderella accidentally “dropped one of her little glass slippers” as “she hurried away” (20). She does not leave the shoe on purpose: there is a sense of spontaneity, and of chance. The insinuation of deliberately leaving the shoe is that the girl and her magical helper have planned to catch a husband, like fishermen with a lure. The shoe becomes part of the spell, and all sense of risk, chance, urgency and luck are eliminated from the story. Thus, neither the African nor the Afghan tales are true compositions of a Western Cinderella.

NARRATIVIZING IDENTITY 179 We, as a culture, are profoundly attached to what we believe Cinderella to be. We are willing to accept the chauvinistic flaws of the fairytale in order to enjoy the fantasy, where we cast ourselves as the lead. We enjoy Cinderella because it indulges our dreams that inside, we are perfect, righteous people, and because it reaffirms the existence of ‘one true love’. We Westerners have a particular meaning when we say a ‘Cinderella wedding’ or a ‘Cinderella hockey team’. The Eastern Cinderella is no more or less valid than Western, but it espouses the different values of a different culture. Cinderella, as we know her, can no more plant a shoe to trap a husband than she can be a murderer or a polygamist. It is, therefore, not a universal theme, nor is it a universal story. Cinderella as a vague tale about a girl and a shoe: that is without borders. But Cinderella as a concept, as a symbol and icon, that, is localized to the culture that idolizes it.


Ducking Through Midterms Season


By Unknown

Edited by Sylvia Duarte

It is mid-semester, and we no longer feel like working. We want a break and we want to go home after a long, hard first half of semester. Our energy is in short supply, and the lack of sleep from the last weeks of school is catching up with us. Most students just want to give up, but now we have to hunker down and study our tails off. Since we all have to suffer through exams, the QUEUC team is here to give you tips on how to survive your finals.

According to an article published by Huffington Post, our delayed and last minute cram sessions before exams are not the ideal way to make it through exams (what a shocker, but we still try). Nerves also play a big part in determining how well we do under pressure. So relax, breathe, and take a moment to read this article about the best ways to study for exams.

For those of us who choose procrastination as our main method of study, here is the harsh reality: starting to study weeks in advance so you remember all the information, and writing out practice exams are the best ways to improve your final grade. But here is a tip to brighten your day: eating berries and almonds before your exam improves memory, so stock up.

One tip I received from a Finance teacher helped me to wrap my head around why spreading out study sessions is better. Apparently, one hour of intense studying, is approximately equivalent to the same effort level needed for 4-6 hours of physical activity (you might not want to quote me word for word). So short frequent sessions are better for absorbing information since your brain needs a steady workout schedule even though it is a tougher muscle then the rest of your body. Also, sleep is integral to good performance on an exam because we will be more relaxed, and the fog of poor sleeping patterns won't affect your ability to comprehend and formulate your answers to examination questions. Therefore, sleep is not simply for the weak.

Here are some tips from some QUEUC 2015 Quarterbacks:

"Write things out on cue cards. If you can explain difficult concepts on a single little cue card, you're bound to remember it for the exam." - Samantha Maliszewski 

"Trust yourself and relax. You probably know more than you think you do." - Nick Walling

"Try to teach your material to a willing victim...umm, friend. You retain more information when you teach something than just reading over it by yourself. At the very least, try to summarize the concepts in your own words to get a better sense of what you do and don't know." - Megan McLeod 

"Get foam earplugs, you'll stay focused throughout your exam. Also sleep is literally the solution to everything. Take a nap if you feel like studying isnt working anymore." - Ariane Fecteau 

I will not offend your senses by saying 'Merry/Happy Studying' (I hate it when people say this because clearly no one likes studying for exams apart from a few unique academic geek-lings) but rather, good luck with your finals. We have all been through exam season and survived (except maybe first years...), so we can do it again. I hope that these tips help you to make it through midterms or give you new ideas for reviewing course material.

Keep flapping, you are almost over the pond.

A Glimpse into the Vetting Process

By Rosemin Nathoo 


The verdict is in! As many of you know, the first "Yes" and "No" emails have been sent out over the past few days. With 229 submissions, an acceptance rate under 30%, and far more eligible papers than we could accept, we figured that you guys may want to know a little more about our vetting process.

You should know that the vetting committee is a diverse group of about 20 of your peers. This means that we are undergraduate English students at BU, and that we critically evaluate your papers from this standpoint. Though we use a careful rubric and a double-blind system, our perspective is quite different than, say, your professors'. In fact, I've found that we're often even harsher.

The first round is when we are as strictly objective as possible. It is a double (usually triple) blind process where at least two different reviewers read each paper thoroughly and evaluate whether it meets the qualifications of a QUEUC essay. Qualities on our rubric include mechanics, structure, analysis, use of primary and secondary sources, length, and (most importantly, in my opinion) originality.

Then comes the fun part. After Round 1 this year, we found 111 solidly eligible papers - all voted "yes" by their group of reviewers -  that's 48%. That's far too many! We had to narrow down to 65 papers - which is where our subjective tastes, our emotions, and our visions for QUEUC came into play. Every year, we narrow down the papers and make our panels during an eight-hour vetting bonanza. Each individual vetter came in this year with their favourite papers ranked from one to about six. From here, we started around the table. Each vetter presented their first pick to the whole committee, agreed or argued with their teammates, and made a decision. Then we went around the table again with the twos, the threes, etc… until we had filled all the spaces. Finally, we got punny, and sorted our very favourite papers into panels. To me (biased, as a very nerdy vetting coordinator), this is where the conference is made. 

The significance of this subjective choosing of our favourite papers is pretty interesting. At this point, the papers that get through the final vetting are not necessarily the most objectively pleasing papers, with perfect grammar and structure. The papers that get through are those that truly make an impact on us, your fellow undergrads, for whatever reason. We are not robots; we read with our own tastes and experiences. We haven't read all the texts you are discussing. But we know QUEUC, and we visualise the conference as we read. This is where factors like originality come into play. This is where your personal style, your heart, and your passion comes into play. And I believe that this is how the passion gets into QUEUC (there is a heck of a lot of it, believe me). We're English students, after all; we're emotional language-lovers. You know us; you are us. This is what it means to be vetted by a jury of your peers.

If you've been accepted, congratulations! Because space is so limited, we only accept our absolute favourites. If you are not presenting a paper this year, remember that over forty qualified papers had to be, regretfully, vetted out, and this in the most subjective part of our process. Try again next year; if you're very passionate about your paper, check the qualifications again, edit, and submit it next year. You never know. And if you can make it in March anyway, be sure to come join the conversation.       

Oh The Places You’ll Go (if you take part in QUEUC)

Written By: Juliet Goulet

As I sit down to finish up my last batch of Graduate school applications I can already predict the list of reoccurring questions: What are your goals/aspirations and what have you done to achieve them? Name a time when you were a leader. Do you have professional experience relevant to this field? As I wonder why creative writing master’s programs bother to ask such repetitive questions, I begin to formulate my equally as repetitive answer: QUEUC.

            During my first year at Bishop’s University I joined the QUEUC communications team out of a desire to finally and meaningfully get involved in my department. Now, as a senior, I have sat on the accommodations, events, and social committees and currently co-quarterback both the Vetting and Communications teams for the 2017 conference. Perhaps my most tangible and useful extra-curricular, the Quebec Universities English Undergraduate Conference has been an integral experience for me, and has helped me shape myself as a Graduate school candidate. I read the application questions again:

            What are you goals/aspirations and what have you done to achieve them? My future lies in writing, in a myriad of different ways. Though my passion is fiction my academic writing has helped to shape my own voice, to condense and clarify my words, and to extend my pen to write things that are meaningful. I believe that my involvement in QUEUC as a presenter and as an audience member have both helped me to improve my own writing skills and ambitions. The academic setting forces me to consider both thematic topics and written prose in a professional and critical light. To be a writer you must first live and breath writing, and QUEUC brings the best undergraduate academic authors together in one place.

            Name a time when you were a leader. This question is always posed with the intent of letting you flex your imagination; does that time you scooped ice cream out the back of a dairy truck count? What about when you participated in medical experiments? How about when you lead a team of volunteers, or organized and introduced panels? The answer to that last question is a resounding yes. QUEUC is a predominantly student led conference. It is us students who rally together to carefully organize the fine details of the weekend; we have to gather committee members, wrangle them together under the same roof for planning, delegate, oversee, and help bring together every little detail that goes into planning such a wonderful conference. The type of leadership that you gain through QUEUC is one that is valuable and applicable to both Graduate schools and the real world.

            Do you have professional experience relevant to this field? My association with QUEUC has been wonderful for helping me to discover my place in the professional and academic spheres; it is a crash course in professional conferences and a small first step towards publishing longer peer-reviewed pieces in my future. Taking part in QUEUC is a whirlwind of meetings, committees, group messages, and anxiety. It is also a brilliantly organized and wonderfully fulfilling experience. I encourage everyone reading this to join the conference in whatever way they can, because you never know where it will take you, or how those experiences will shape your future. As a senior student at Bishop’s it is my final year taking part in QUEUC but, as I’ve illustrated, these experiences follow you forever.

Making a Connection at QUEUC

By Rosemin Nathoo

Like you, probably, I'm not one to miss a nerdy, extracurricular academic talk. My first experience at QUEUC last year, however, was something quite different than what I was used to. As a literature student, I, of course, needed to find the precise language to describe my experience. As a literature conference, QUEUC was quick to provide that language. I don't remember the name of the paper, the name of the speaker, or the name of the person whose biography she had studied. I do, though, remember chewing over the paper's main concept on the long drive home. It was a new definition of the word "utopia". The essayist had read into a series of encounters between her subject and countless strangers, and found that each of those encounters involved a spark of "utopia". Utopia, as I understand, is a space created by and between like-minded people when they meet and truly connect. It's that rare meeting that evokes instant empathy and stimulating conversation. It's a catalyst for social change created with one-on-one human connection. It's a hypothetical new world created between two people: a real, contemporary utopia defined by all the ideals and passions of the speakers. This year, QUEUC has been defined again by our theme and our goal - making a connection. Every year, the student organizers set a theme so that we can put special emphasis on improving a certain aspect of the conference. "Making a connection" means communicating well with delegates, finding them places to stay, and getting them to our little corner of the world safely and comfortably. For me, though, it means utopia. It means coming together with someone you may have seen at a cafe and walked by without a second glance - and suddenly spending hours talking fervently with them about Thomas Pynchon or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in connecting like that, somehow, starting to make a better world. I'm a reclusive scholar, like many of you. I don't make connections easily, but when I do, they are strong. That utopian moment does not happen to me often, but at QUEUC, the air was supersaturated with those moments. Time and time again, during panels, meals, and trivia, I felt that connection and that hope. And, frankly, that's why you should come. That's why you should come, whether you are presenting a paper or not; come, because we want to meet you! I'm reading through a whole lot of your papers right now, and trust me, I most definitely want to meet you. Come!

Like you, probably, I'm not one to miss a nerdy, extracurricular academic talk. My first experience at QUEUC last year, however, was something quite different than what I was used to. As a literature student, I, of course, needed to find the precise language to describe my experience. As a literature conference, QUEUC was quick to provide that language.

I don't remember the name of the paper, the name of the speaker, or the name of the person whose biography she had studied. I do, though, remember chewing over the paper's main concept on the long drive home. It was a new definition of the word "utopia". The essayist had read into a series of encounters between her subject and countless strangers, and found that each of those encounters involved a spark of "utopia". Utopia, as I understand, is a space created by and between like-minded people when they meet and truly connect. It's that rare meeting that evokes instant empathy and stimulating conversation. It's a catalyst for social change created with one-on-one human connection. It's a hypothetical new world created between two people: a real, contemporary utopia defined by all the ideals and passions of the speakers.

This year, QUEUC has been defined again by our theme and our goal - making a connection. Every year, the student organizers set a theme so that we can put special emphasis on improving a certain aspect of the conference. "Making a connection" means communicating well with delegates, finding them places to stay, and getting them to our little corner of the world safely and comfortably. For me, though, it means utopia. It means coming together with someone you may have seen at a cafe and walked by without a second glance - and suddenly spending hours talking fervently with them about Thomas Pynchon or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in connecting like that, somehow, starting to make a better world.

I'm a reclusive scholar, like many of you. I don't make connections easily, but when I do, they are strong. That utopian moment does not happen to me often, but at QUEUC, the air was supersaturated with those moments. Time and time again, during panels, meals, and trivia, I felt that connection and that hope. And, frankly, that's why you should come. That's why you should come, whether you are presenting a paper or not; come, because we want to meet you! I'm reading through a whole lot of your papers right now, and trust me, I most definitely want to meet you. Come!