On March 3-5, 2016, UT’s Graduate Student in English will host NEXUS: An Interdisciplinary Conference. NEXUS is a a biennial, graduate-student-run conference. NEXUS, which began in 2004 as a speaker’s symposium organized by then President of the Graduate Students in English Brian Gempp, aims to bring together scholars, creative writers, and educators from a broad range of disciplines in order to provide a space to share the myriad ways that humans communicate about an endangered environment and recommend avenues for future research. This conference also seeks to expand the ways in which scholars link discussions about communication and the environment such that the natural world becomes one environment among many which shapes our ideas about communication. The theme for this year’s conference is “Alt + Shift: Unlocking Alternative Methodologies and Marginal Positions.” This year’s conference will feature plenary speakers Dr. Andrea Kitta, a folklorist specializing in public health; Dr. Dorothea Lasky, a highly regarded poet; and Dr. Malea Powell, who works in American Indian material rhetorics and decolonizing methodologies. A complete conference schedule is available here.
The short-key action “Alt+Shift” is supposed to change the keyboard language. However, this function no longer changes these language settings, as it once could do, and it may not regain functioning without altering the system itself. To help change and alter the system, more research and collaboration is needed. In the same way, this conference seeks to promote connectivity between various disciplines and their approaches to changing mainstream research to recover marginal voices and discover effective alternative methodologies. Recent conversations concerning immigration, environment, vaccinations, LGBTQ communities, women, race, and violence have illustrated ongoing concerns of alienation and subjugation of marginalized perspectives in society. While the topics of debate are not new, the presence of these conversations are exposing the oppressive effects associated with mainstream narratives and dominant research paradigms.
This conference aims to bring together scholars, creative writers, and educators from a broad range of disciplines in order to provida space to share the myriad ways that scholars are alternatively researching materials and recovering marginalized voices from the prevailing dominant paradigms. While the rise in use of alternative methodologies has opened up new opportunities for research, social action, and expression by previously under-recognized and underrepresented groups, important questions remain. Particularly, how can we actively shift from the idea of “other” in such a way that the foundation of research practice changes?