The 2021 Colloquium: Meet our Presenters!

The English Students’ Association is hosting our seventh annual academic conference, The Colloquium! This conference features presentations from English undergraduate students and faculty members. The Colloquium offers the opportunity to share your work and discuss ideas with other students and faculty members in the English Department. Please see below to read the abstracts and to learn about our Presenters!

Event Information

Time: 4:00pm – 6:00 PM PST
Date: Thursday, March 11th
Location: Zoom
Zoom Link:

English Students Association is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: The 7th Annual ESA Colloquium Time: Mar 11, 2021 03:30 PM Vancouver

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(Dr.) Gisèle M. Baxter: ‘Like a real girl’: gaze, gender, and synthetic humans in Gothic science fiction”

When Joi, K.’s AI-projection lover in Blade Runner 2049, asks to be downloaded to her portable emanator, he warns her that if it breaks, she will die, and she says then she will, “like a real girl.” But what is a real girl? Is the replicant Luv, who stamps on the emanator, or Joi for that matter, not real, or not a girl? Or simply not human? Gothic and dystopian impulses intersect in humanoid simulacra that haunt the technology of recent science-fiction films. This presentation uses Blade Runner 2049 and Ex Machina to explore how such films represent both the makers, who dread lost control over their creations, and their creations, as they discover the arbitrariness of their existence. If the former is a Bluebeard story, with Nathan’s closets full of discarded prototypes, the latter is more clearly one of Frankenstein’s offspring.

City/Hometown: Vancouver since 1997; from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Specialization/courses: Gothic studies; Victorian literature; dystopian/post-apocalyptic narratives; children’s literature; Modernism; rhetoric and composition (Current courses: ENGL 100, 110, 243, 301, 362, 392)
Hobbies: drafting unfinished novels, phone photography, singing to my cat
What inspired me to write this: When the International Gothic Association announced a special conference in Manchester in 2018 to mark the bicentenary of the publication of Frankenstein, I saw a way of linking my interests in near-future dystopian narratives and Gothic studies, in an examination of gaze, gender, and the uncanny in contemporary representations of synthetic humans (clones, androids, cyborgs, artificial intelligences, etc.). This particular paper develops a very specific area of the general concerns introduced in that first paper three years ago.
What I’m looking forward to in the Colloquium: I am looking forward to the student presentations! This is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience in presenting and sharing research in progress, and one that didn’t exist when I was an undergraduate.

Chase Thomson: Relational Understanding of the Interdependent Self in Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do

The art of auto/biography and memoir writing is one that presents fascinating insights into the development of one’s sense of self. Using Paul John Eakin’s concepts of relationality and Thomas Couser’s concepts of matriography and patriography, I seek to analyze Thi Bui’s debut graphic memoir as a case of intergenerational relationality. A harrowing story of a refugee experience, Bui’s graphic memoir offers an intricate and intimate look into how one’s life story, and thus sense of self, is created in relation to the life stories of prominent developmental figures–more often than not, one’s parents. Through an analysis of Bui’s parents, Mà and Bô, as well as Bui herself, I explore themes of parenting, intimacy, and family in order to ascertain that one’s identity is truly interdependent.

Chase Thomson resides in the Greater Vancouver area and is a fourth-year English Literature Major with a Minor in Creative Writing. In 2019, Chase wrote the 2019 Christmas Pantomime for the White Rock Players Club and day-to-day works as an English Instructor at a private learning institution. Aside from work and school, Chase is part of the LGBTQIA+ Collective under at UBC and helps create and produce podcasts and radio shows that discuss various Queer issues. In his spare time, Chase runs a photography business and has a passion for vintage clothing. Chase’s Colloquium presentation is “Relational Understanding of the Interdependent Self in Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do” and has been inspired by a newfound passion for the research of life narrative writing. During Colloquium, Chase is most looking forward to learning about the inspiring research that other members of the faculty have been working on.
Social media: @chasexthomson

Su Heng (Michael) Yi: Self-Deprecation in Entertainment: Ways to Use and Respond to Laughter

Using an auto-ethnographical format, this paper questions the use of self-deprecation and the grander ideological problems it may create or at least be complicit in. Life narratives of Asian comedians within the Anglosphere from stand-up comedians such as Joe Wang to users of more modern mediums such as Ryan Higa are studied and compared with the author’s own experiences to analyse the ways and situations in which self-deprecation is used, such as responding to an offensive joke, preventing ostracisation or simply as a way to succeed in one’s industry. By examining the idea laughter gives power through implicit agreement to the ideas within jokes, we consider whether self-deprecation only acts to push damaging narratives further into acceptability and whether creating non-laughter is the only way to challenge them; and if it is, the consequences it would bring.

Su Heng (Michael) Yi is a fourth year student at UBC, studying English and Creative Writing. Originally born in Tianjin, China, he immigrated to Canada at the age of six and spent eighteen years learning English. He has no prior professional writing experience and his works have not been published or presented until just now. Dreaming of following the footsteps of the ancient Daoist warrior-scholars, he says he is always practicing writing and Muay Thai but he’s probably just playing games in his room. Michael’s Presentation “Self-Deprecation in Comedy: Ways to use and respond to Laughter” was written in response to societal tension made obvious by recent events and retrospection on the part he once played and whether he could have done better. He looks forward to the opportunity to learn from and share perspectives with the many talented writers of UBC at this year’s ESA colloquium. 

Lindsey Palmer: Sex Work, Affect, and Agency: Dwelling in Chinese Box and “The Paper Menagerie”

Women who do sex work and those in adjacent areas of sexual/ized commerce, such as mail-order brides, frequently come up against assumptions of their victimhood and lack of agency; women sex workers of Asian descent additionally experience Orientalist assumptions of female submissiveness and servility. Using Lily Wong’s concept of “dwelling,” this paper examines Wayne Wang’s Chinese Box and Ken Liu’s “The Paper Menagerie,” focusing on their respective sex worker-figures, Vivian and Jack’s mother. These women are able to express their agency through dwelling, as Vivian comes into her own through Rey Chow’s “third space” and Jack’s mother lingers beyond death to reconnect with her son. Finally, I seek to connect these agentive depictions to a local, real-life example in SWAN Vancouver’s work with im/migrant women engaged in indoor sex work, highlighting how they dwell in defiance of “victim” discourses of passivity and tragedy.

Lindsey Palmer (she/her) is a settler on the traditional, ancestral, and occupied territories of the Kwikwetlem, səl̓ilwətaɁɬ təməxʷ (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh-ulh Temíx̱w (Squamish), S’ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō), Qayqayt, Stz’uminus, and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) First Nations. She will complete her BA in May with a double major in English Literature and Political Science and has written for the Garden Statuary, where she is now an editor. Also a member of Climate Justice UBC and an Arts Peer Advisor, Lindsey enjoys tending to her houseplants and is passionate about mental health and collective care. Her presentation is titled “Sex Work, Affect, and Agency: Dwelling in Chinese Box and ‘The Paper Menagerie.’” Written for ENGL 490: Literary and Social Movements in China, Hong Kong, and the Transpacific, taught by Dr. Y-Dang Troeung, her essay was inspired in part by Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights by Juno Mac and Molly Smith. During the Colloquium, Lindsey is looking forward to adding to her lengthy “books to read” list. 

Kyara Hunter: Science-Friction: Science, Magic, and Gender in André Alexis’ Days by Moonlight 

André Alexis’ novel Days By Moonlight presents many challenges to traditional genre categories, swinging wildly from scientific-journaling to fairy tale narrative of love portions and curses. These two types of narrative – logical evidence-based scientific inquiry, and emotional mysticism – are traditionally coded as stereotypically masculine and feminine, respectively. In the novel, however, Alexis challenges these gendered stereotypes by inverting them, and ultimately undermining such binary thinking by grounding the botanist Alfred’s connection with plants and flowers through strikingly fatalistic and mystical language, while he uses more logical, systematic, and scientific tags in describing Marthe’s use of flowers in her practice of dark arts and witchcraft. By disrupting stereotypically gendered narratives of science and magic, Alexis’ novel Days by Moonlight reveals the extent to which we still gender traditional narratives, and offers a more holistic approach to narrative, trope, and language use, creating something truly magical in the process. 

Kyara Hunter, from Burnaby, BC, is a fifth year English Honours student. She is a playwright and recently directed and acted in an ESA produced virtual performance of her first verse play, The Tragedy of Irene, while UBC Players’ Club Festival Dionysia will produce her one-act play in late March 2021. She is an editor for the Writing Memories Society and UBC’s English Undergraduate journal, The Garden Statuary. Her three years on the UBC Fencing Club’s executive team were spent encouraging others to recite Hamlet during bouts. A member of the UBC Playwriting Collective, she also enjoys riding horses and ballet. Her presentation “Science-Friction: Science, Magic, and Gender in André Alexis’ Days by Moonlight” was written this summer as frequent hikes during lockdown inspired her exploration of the novel’s interest in nature. She is delighted to present alongside her peers and is grateful that the ESA offers such opportunities. 

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