The 2023 Colloquium: Meet our Presenters!

The ESA’s 2023 Colloquium is next Friday, March 10th!

The colloquium aims to provide a platform for undergraduate students and faculty in the English department to showcase their work and experience what may be their first conference presentation. It also acts as an illustration of the scholarship happening in the department each year.

Our student presenters this year are Hui Wong, Sophia Abundo, Diana Andrews, and Samuel Albert. Our faculty guests this year are Dr. J. Logan Smilges and Dr. Laurie McNeill. Find more information about the panelists below!

Event Details:

The event will be held on Friday, March 10th from 3:30-5:45 PM in the IKB Dodson room. Please email the ESA ( or DM us on Instagram (@ubc_esa) if you are planning on attending. We have limited space, so be sure to reserve your spot quickly by getting in contact with us.

We look forward to seeing you there,


Student Presenter Profiles:

A headshot of presenter Hui Wong

Hui Wong: “Reading Silence:  Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome and/as a Possible Future of the Global South

Abstract: The history of the Global South (the Second and Third World, the Un-/derdeveloped World, the Semi-Peripheral and Peripheral, the Poorer Nations) is a history characterized by one that is not there, a “people without history.” But such a claim to history does not obviously lead to the conclusion that the task is to linearize, capture, and totalitize “the history of the Global South.” One may turn to, for instance, literary work that gestures to the manifold possibilities of articulating this history. Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome  takes this task seriously as it imagines a conspiratorial history of intentional silences that mirrors yet refracts the real history of colonialism. How can the violent act of silencing concomitant with colonial history be rewritten? What does the imagination of an intentional silence provide? And, how does silence bear on the future?

Bio: Hui Wong (he/him) is a fourth year student, originally from Singapore, and is majoring in Media Studies and minoring in English Literature. In their spare time they enjoy reading and hanging out. Hui’s presentation “Reading Silence: Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome and/as a Possible Future of the Global South” was written for a course taught by Dr. Kavita Philip, who provided excellent readings and discussions around Ghosh’s text. The paper seeks to be exploratory, doing the work that literary criticism does by exploring the text’s political limits. Thus the title Reading Silence that draws attention to the reflexivity involved in reading, as the paper was written in a mode that sought to attend to shared reading practices across literature, history, and politics. Hui is looking forward to seeing the other presenters and the diversity of ideas that will be presented. As well as meeting other people. And hopefully snacks.

Sophia Abundo: “The Fetus’ Womb: Abjection and Abortion in Junji Ito’s Uzumaki

Abstract: Junji Ito’s graphic Uzumaki reimagines the fertile female body, intimately intertwined with nature and suppressed by the patriarchal medical environment. The frightening mastery of the fetus over the maternal body is represented through Keiko’s horrifying association with the natural world, Makio’s realisation of his Freudian desire, and Keiko’s final assertion of her bodily autonomy. Through Barbara Creed’s framework in The Monstrous-Feminine and Julia Kristeva’s Powers of Horror, Keiko’s personhood within her enslaved state reduced to a killing machine may be further explored. Junji Ito’s Uzumaki presents the decentralisation of maternal agency within patriarchal structures through the monstrous depiction of the fetus as both a parasitic entity of the natural world and a conscious human entity aligned with the patriarchy.

Bio: Sophia Abundo (she/her) lives in Vancouver, B.C. and is a third-year English Honours student who enjoys writing, baking, and playing with her dog. Her paper is entitled “The Fetus’ Womb: Abjection and Abortion in Junji Ito’s Uzumaki”, which was written for an English course on Weird fiction at Langara College. She was inspired to write this essay after researching sexual and reproductive health and rights. She is looking forward to hearing all the presentations at the colloquium.

Diana Andrews: “Untethered Matter: Trans-corporeal Haunting in Frankenstein

Abstract: Drawing on both Stacy Alaimo’s writings on new materialism and China Miéville’s reading of Derridean hauntology, this paper argues that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a kind of trans-corporeal ghost story that questions the ontological boundaries drawn by the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment is haunted by that which it has reduced to mere matter, that which it has made not to matter. While systems such as class, capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism sought to separate specific, privileged individuals from the brute materialism of Hobbesian “uncivilized” nature, Shelley questions the implications of this distinction; there are victims in the shadows of the Enlightenment project, victims for whom the creature speaks and takes vengeance. In contrast with a Spinozist, trans-corporeal vision of humans and the environment as a kind of single body bound together with mutual, reciprocal bonds, Shelley’s novel suggests that the Enlightenment and the consequent Industrial Revolution atomize and untether individuals both from one another and from the nonhuman world.

Bio: Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Diana (she/her) is a second-year student in the English Honours program with a minor in German studies. Outside of classes, she loves designing and sewing clothes, making her own jewellery, and performing – she is currently rehearsing for UBC Musical Theatre Troupe’s production of Into the Woods, which opens in April. Her paper, “Untethered Matter: Trans-corporeal Haunting in Frankenstein,” was written as a term paper for her introductory honours seminar, and brings together her love of the Gothic, eighteenth century philosophy, and ecofeminist theory. At the colloquium, Diana is looking forward to presenting her work for the first time and learning about what other students in the department are researching.

Samuel Albert:What Makes for a Grievable Life?: Alameddine and Belcourt’s Creation of the Queer and Colonized Subject in the context of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic”

Abstract: This paper explores the poetry of Billy-Ray Belcourt’s NDN Coping Mechanisms and Rabih
Alameddine’s debut novel Koolaids in conversation with Judith Butler’s theory of grievability
and José Esteban Muñoz’s theory of the queer utopia. The essay pays particular attention to
the creation of an intersectional queer and colonized subjectivity that emerges from the
grief caused by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In exploring Belcourt and Alameddine’s approach to
writing their subjectivities as a process for imagining a livable future beyond the travesty of
colonialism and HIV/AIDS, the essay aims to examine how essential the theory of utopia is
for granting current the queer and colonized subject purpose in a subordinated present.

Bio: Samuel Albert (he/they) is a third-year student pursuing a degree in Honours English with a
specialization in Literature alongside a minor in Urban Studies. Samuel will present his essay
titled “‘What makes for a grievable life?’: Alameddine and Belcourt’s creation of the queer and
colonized subject in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic” for the 2023 Colloquium. This essay
was written for Samuel’s Post-Colonial Literature class, ENGL 374: Making a Liveable World –
Global HIV/AIDS Writing with Dr. Sheila Giffen. The essay synthesizes the poetry of Bill-Ray
Belcourt and the prose of Rabih Alameddine with Judith Butler’s theory of grievability, paying
particular attention to the intersections of the queer and colonized subjectivities that emerge in
writing influenced by the massive loss of life of HIV/AIDS. In their free time, Samuel is a writer,
filmmaker, and avid consumer of literature, art, and music. Samuel enjoys reading a good book
on the beach following a surf or swim in the ocean and aspires to spend his life writing at eclectic cafés and travelling the world as a filmmaker and writer. He looks forward to hearing the work of all his peers presenting at the Colloquium this year.

Faculty Guests:

Dr. Laurie McNeill: “Happy Accidents: Bob Ross, Digital Afterlives, and Auto/biographical Memes”

Dr. Laurie McNeill (she/her) is Professor of Teaching and Associate Head, Undergraduate in the Department of English Language and Literatures. Her research in auto/biography studies focuses on digital, folk, and archival representations of “ordinary” lives, including work on social media, diaries, and ephemera. Her most recent publications in the field include the article “Digital Posthuman Auto/biography,” for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature (2022), and, with co-authors Sonja Boon, Julie Rak, and Candida Rifkind, the Routledge Introduction to Auto/biography in Canada (2022). She will be sharing new work on memes as collaboratively-produced auto/biographical texts, considering in particular how memes that depict real people complicate and extend traditional understandings and practice of auto/biography.

Dr. Logan Smilges: “Cripping Critique”

Dr. J. Logan Smilges (they/them) is an assistant professor of English Language and Literature at the University of British Columbia, where they write and teach in queer/trans disability studies, rhetorical studies, and the history of medicine. They are the author of Queer Silence: On Disability and Rhetorical Absence (University of Minnesota Press, 2022) and Crip Negativity (University of Minnesota Press, 2023).

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