Annual English Undergrad Conference

2024 Conference Topic: HOW DO WE LOOK?

Thursday, April 11th, 9am-5pm in IC318

Keynote speaker: Film Scholar and Filmmaker Fatimah Tobing Rony

Conference promo poster: "HOW DO WE LOOK" in funky font, over the retro-feeling image of a woman in a blue dress, leaning in a red chair, with a 1970s-style TV for a head

All members of the UTSC community are welcome to attend!


9:00am Welcome and coffee

9:10-10:30am Capstone Panel: Senior Essays from the Students of ENGD98 

  • Whitney Buluma: "The Problem of Humanness: Triangulating Ubuntu’s Affordances" 
  • Jorge Luis Carbajal Friedrich: "Knowledge, Reality, & Mind in Jorge Luis Borges' Short Stories" 
  • Maryam Khan: "More strange than true:" Identity and Cognition in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream​" 
  • Seema Patel: "Beyond the Canvas: The Picture of Dorian Gray​ as a Societal Critique and a Reflection of Oscar Wilde" 
  • Kayla Wilson: "The Order in Disorder: Troubling the Binary between History and Literature" 

10:45-11:45 Panel 1: Visibility and Context: Navigating Racial Identities

  • Tanya Ng Cheong, "Seeing the Unseen: How The Prison in Twelve Landscapes and Strong Island Tell Their Stories"
  • Christine Villa, "What Does it Mean to be American? Unpacking the Racial Double Consciousness with Hughes’ 'Theme for English B' and Gates’ 'Talking Black: Critical Signs for the Times'" and "whitewashed"
  • Nathan Augustin, "Leave the lumpia at my door"

12:00-1:00pm Lunch & Keynote Address by Fatimah Tobing Rony

How Do We Look? Resisting Visual Biopolitics

Through the story of Annah la Javanaise, a trafficked 13-year-old girl who was found wandering the streets of Paris in 1893 and who became the maid and model of painter Paul Gauguin, Fatimah Tobing Rony introduces theories of visual biopolitics to examine those who are allowed to live and those who are allowed to die, in representations of Indonesian women.  In her talk she will be reading from her book and screening her short, animated film, Annah la Javanaise.

Fatimah Tobing Rony makes films and writes books about people whose stories have not yet been told. In her first book The Third Eye, Fatimah Tobing Rony wrote about how colonialism created a divide between the Historical and the Ethnographic, the Civilized and the Savage, and how these divides were inscribed in film, photography, and other visual technologies. These categories served biopolitics by producing a logic whereby the life of one group was nourished at the expense of another. Twenty years on, this divide is just as persistent and pernicious in our era of neoliberalism and globalization. In her new book HOW DO WE LOOK? she traces the legacy of one particular aspect of visual biopolitics--the representation of the Indonesian woman--into the twenty-first century of globalization. As a filmmaker, Fatimah also co-directed the feature film CHANTS OF LOTUS [PEREMPUAN PUNYA CERITA] (2008), which was distributed and exhibited in major theaters in Indonesia, and in film festivals around the world.  Her short animation film ANNAH LA JAVANAISE, distributed by Women Make Movies, was an Official Selection of the 2020 Annecy International Festival for Animated Film, in Annecy, France, and has won fifteen international film festival awards. Fatimah Tobing Rony is Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine.


1:15-2:15pm Panel 2: Writers on Writing

  • Amna Alvi, "How to Write a Story Worth Reading"
  • Joseph Donato, "Goat" 
  • Tanisha Agarwal, "Things to Do at the End of the World"

2:30-3:30pm Panel 3: Looking at "High" and "Low" Culture

  • Tanisha Agarwal, "i know what aristotle said but he’s dead"
  • Christy Lorentz, "'I Will Dazzle': The Nexus of Moral Responsibility, Guilt Evasion, and Perception Management in the 'Dazzling' Rhetoric of Shakespeare’s King Henry V" 
  • Cayden Mascarenas, "Invisible Illness and its Image Problems in Superhero Comics"
  • Natashia Septirymen, "On Subversion in Jujutsu Kaisen: Fan-service, the Male Gaze, and the Role of Women in Shōnen Anime"

3:45-4:45pm “Extremely Revealing Bullshit”: The Art of Professional Wrestling 

  • Presented by Daniel Tysdal and the students of ENGD54

4:45-5:00pm Closing & Awards Presentation


Call for Papers Deadline: March 2nd

We welcome academic essays and creative writing that take any approach to the conference theme of "How Do We Look?" Examples may include but are not limited to: reflection and self reflection, narrative and film perspective, viewpoints and opinions, perceptions, appearances, self image, sight and seeing, the cinematic gaze, speculation, spying and surveillance, storytelling methods with unique points of view (e.g. hybrid, lyrical, associative, etc.), landscapes and vistas, and illusions.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Critical essays of 5-12 pages in length
  • Creative works can fall into the categories of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction
  • Length limits for creative works are 3-5 poems and 500 to 3000 words for prose

Monetary Prizes Awarded for Best Academic Essay & Best Creative Work

Email submissions to

Past Conferences

2023 Conference: Journeys

Critical Essay Presenters

Maria Desai, “Coming Out of the Closet with Two Different Coats: Irene Adler and Transgression in 'A Scandal in Bohemia' and 'A Scandal in Belgravia'”

Toey Saralamba, “More Dangerous than the Other: Arthur Conan Doyle’s depiction of the British Empire as more alarming than foreigners in 'Lot No. 249'”

Shakthi Suthakaran, “The Journey of Language: Navigating the Lexicon of Imperialism and Globalization in R.F. Kuang’s Babel, or the Necessity of Violence"

Jorge Luis Carbajal Friedrich, “The Other, Awakened Dream-States, and Uncertain Endings: The Gothic as Transgression”

Creative Writing Presenters

Alina Mitrofanova, “Beyond the Horizon”

Aerial Douskos, “The Cairn"

Joseph Donato, “Biting Down”

Zain Hussain, “Twisted Vices of a Hypocrite”

Naomi Cabral, “Girl from the Northumberland County”

Alexa DiFrancesco, “Moonshine”

Isla McLaughlin, “Give Love, Give Love, Give Love”

Nahia Syeda, “Just Tell Us”

Joshua Spencer, “Covid’s Not Over” and “When I set my mother’s table”

D98 Capstone Presenters

Kereisha Biggs, "When Forgetting is Necessary: Traumatic Memory Loss & Rebuilding New Worlds in Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven"

Brennen Penney, "Ghost in the Machine: Westworld’s Inescapable Legacies of Violence”

Pavitra Cumaraswamy, "The Heterotopia Boarding School Paradox: To Accept or Reject Alternative Social Norms"

Amanda Pompilii, "'Yet shall not Faustus fly': A New Historicist Examination of Religious Spectacle, Satire, and Subversion in Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus"

Eleanor Zhong, "'Infamous Daughter of an Infamous Mother': The Intertextual Relationship between Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea"

Farah Dorani, "Unholy Matrimonies: Children and Transactional Sacrifices in the Gothic" (Here's your Invitation!)

Catherina Tseng, "Animal, Monster, Alien, Bitch: Scientific Imagery, Racialised Identity, and Cyborgfeminist Theory in Soft Science by Franny Choi”

Keynote Address by Titi Aiyegbusi: "Traversing Diverse Paths: A Scholar's Journey Across Fields"

"Journeys" conference poster, with a winding road and woman walking through a book/door. Info in text.

2022 Conference: Humor

Critical Essay Presenters

Noah Farberman, D98 presentation on George Sauders's Lincoln in the Bardo

Maria Desai, "What’s Mine is Yours, and What’s Yours Isn’t Mine: Destabilized Authorship and Underlying Authority in 'The Goodnight Skirt'"

Maryam Khan, "How Humour Destabilizes Good versus Evil in Good Omens"

Zoe Griffith, D98 Presentation on Malinda Lo's Ash

Amena Ahmed, "The Cost of Innocent Freedoms: Femininity in the Face of Patriarchal Oppression in The Rover"

Rachelle Wilson, "Rapunzel’s Counternarrative: Subverting the Fairy-Tale Genre’s Structure and its Heroine Archetypes in Mona Awad’s 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl"


Creative Writing Presenters

Tanya Ng Cheong, "Mango Season" and "3PM Ramen"

Noah Farberman, "Fraternally Yours"

Eric Wang, poems ("Subject Matter," "Poem Wherein My Father Is a Combination Wendy’s/Taco Bell Rest Area Which, Yes, Is Some Horribly Contrived Metaphor," and "Lousy Poem for My Sadness")



Keyonte Address by Prof. Garry Leonard: "'The human engine waits/Like a taxi throbbing': The Internal Combustion Engine and the Construction of the Modern Self"

"Humor" poster for the 2022 Undergraduate Conference

2021 Conference: Matters of the Body

Critical Essay Presenters

Maria Desai, “Digging One’s Own Grave: The Perpetual Bondage in John Donne’s ‘The Funeral’”

Amena Ahmed, “Remember Who You Are”: The King’s Two Bodies and Matters of Emotional Expression in Shakespeare’s Richard II

Jahin Ali Khan, “Identity Crisis: Homosexuality and Culture in Intolerable

Faizan Malik, “Covid-19, Necropolitics, and The Death of Theory”


Creative Writing Presenters

Laura Goslinski, "How I Reevaluated my Relationship with People from the Hallway of a Gas Station, the Back of a Cab, a Hotel, a Bus, a Door, and A Valley; and Tried Again"

Noah Farberman, "Baked Potato," "Silicon Dolly," and "On Going Through a Ninth Grade Breakup"

Olivia Rennie, "It’s Time to Bring Invisible Disabilities Out into the Open: A Personal Account of the Barriers Present in Education, Employment, and Everyday Life, and What Must be Done to Eliminate these Obstacles"

Tanya Ng Cheong, "Ghost Ship"

Shakthi Suthakaran, "Looking Upon Gold"

Genevieve Lang, "Father Dearest"


Keynote Address

“Shame: Its Impact on our Bodies and Minds" by Prof. Marlene Goldman


2020 Conference: “Myths & Legends”

Critical Essay Presenters

Amena Ahmed, "The Personal and the Political: Understanding the Divine Experience in the 'Homeric Hymn to Demeter'"

Eva Wissting, "The Colonizer’s Dream: A Comparison of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe with David Cronenberg’s M. Butterfly"

Kimberley Chow, "Fate and Choice in Homer's The Iliad"

Bryan Chen, Firaz Khan, and Faizan Malik, "Critical Approaches to Love and Emancipation: Re-appropriating Bourgeois Myths"

Ryanne Kap, "The Harm of Hitting Back: How Let the Right One In and Stranger Things Exhibit and Exploit the Cycle of Bullying"


Creative Writing Presenters

Noah Farberman, “Dear new god, if all you do is answer you’ll be better than the others”

Sana Mufti,”The Metaphoric Phasing of the Butterfly”

Sarah Hilton, “Death Valley, California, 1969”

Victoria Mbabazi, “Manic Pixie Dream Entrance”

Ryanne Kap, “Heat”

Jingshu Yao, “The Peony Research Station”

Eva Wissting, “Perception of a Nation”


Keynote Address

"Cleopatra: Matter, Mystique & Mythology," by Prof. Laura Jane Wey

myths and legends

2019 Conference: “Space, Place, and the Environment”

Critical Essay Presenters

Grayson Chong, “What’s the Hyphen Got to Do with It?: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Cordelia and Nature in William Shakespeare’s King Lear”

Nicholas Marcelli, “Tree Huggers: Exploitative Human/Nature Kinship Bonds in Behn’s ‘On A Juniper Tree, Cut Down to Make Busks’ and Silverstein’s The Giving Tree”

Zahra Tootonsab, “The Right to the City Through the Lens of “Dark Sousveillance” in Dionne Brand’s thirsty”

Sumbul Mirza, “The Limits of Multiculturalism in David Chariandy’s Brother"

Aishah Cader, “Always the Nice Guy: Unpacking Why American Literature Trivializes Canada”

Ryanne Kap, “‘They Cannot Represent Themselves’: The Ramifications of Hollywood Representation in Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer"

Eva Wissting, “Waiting for Hope in Sarajevo: The Meaning of Susan Sontag’s staging of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot”

Tasnim Sumaiya & Malaika Hamadi, “The Hollywood Muslim: The Silver Screen’s Islamophobic Pandemic & Regressive Representation”


Creative Writing Presenters

Ryanne Kap, “Florida”

Chloe Troicuk, “1983”

Victoria Mbabazi, “Evelyn & The Five Stages of Grief”

Sarah Hilton, "Campus Sceleratus: The Body" and "Reflecting Pool”

Zahra Tootonsab, ”cowboys in a spaceship”

Bijal Prajapati, “Pour Traverser les Ponts”

Eva Wissting, “On My Body”

Grayson Chong, ”Language Lessons" and “Hunger”


Keynote Address

“Breathings & Bodies: An Ecocritical Primer," by Prof. Anne Milne

space, place and the environment

2018 Conference: “Subversion”

Critical Essay Presenters

Sabrina Khela, “Early Modern Gendered Soundscapes: Silence, Speech, and Acoustic Agency in King Lear

Grayson Chong, “Ravenous Rome: Confusion Between Romans and Barbarians in William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus

Iffah Elnaz, “British Romantics and Bias: A Post-colonial Perspective on Race-Based Narratives”

Elanna Clayton, “Saving Souls or Damaging Them: Coping Mechanisms Caused by Harmful Institutions”

Chelsea Matson, “Imagined Representations of Migration in Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion

Abbiramee Asokan, “Running Through the Street & Paddling In the Sky: The Subversion & Transgression of Racial Boundaries in Magical Realist Canadian Literature”

Daniel Hutchings, “Imagining Community and Isolation in African Prison Poetry”

Alisha Sharma, “The Handmaid’s Tale: Blessed Be Those Who Heed the Warnings of the Meek”


Creative Writing Presenters 

Grayson Chong “Of Men and Monsters”

Jill Kennedy “Smart Phone”

Victoria Mbabazi “2017”

Sana Mufti “Hang them all and let them burn”

Téa Mutonji “Serendipity”

Zahra Tootonsab “Bodies & Human Bodies”

Chloe Troicuk “Vindication for What I Was Taught”

Vanessa Vigneswaramoorthy, “A Sonnet to Daughter”

Rubab Ali “Data”

Sarah Hilton “Cardinal”

Aleah Howard “Right Side Up”

Ryanne Kap “China Dolls”

Bijal Prajapati “Patient 13”

Eva Wissting “Her Friend, I Am”

Emma Witkowski, “Bottom of Éireann Quay” 


English undergrad conference

2017 Conference: “Diversity & Discomfort”

Critical Essay Presenters 

Julianna Valente, “Understanding the Self Through the Spiritual”

Zahraa Saab, “Diminishing Discomfort: The Rejection of Sameness and Otherness in Mohja Kahf’s Muslim-American Novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf”

Sabrina Khela, “‘Post-postcolonial’ Translatability in Cultural Translation: Negotiating Transactions of Culture in Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ and ‘Hell-Heaven’”

Nana Frimpong, “Narrative Storytelling, Identity, and Silence in African-American Prose”

Chelsea La Vecchia, “Give Me Bread and Salt: Transformation and Transgression from Food in Fantasy Literature”

Alisha Sharma, “The Subversion and Attainment of the Desirable in Fantasy Literature”

Samir Parmar, “Pandemic Diseases in America: Media Influence on Our Fear of the Other”

Vivian Zhou, “The Puissance of Variation: Othering the Miscegenated Subject in Stephen Norrington’s Blade”

James Dale, “Is It Me?: An Analysis of Age as Other in The Strain”


Creative Writing Presenters

Emma Witkowski, “A Sunrise”

Nikki Carter, “To Do:”

Grayson Chong, “My Body, The Victim”

James Dale, “Kaloi Threnoi”

Abygaile Cruz, “excuse me aramark, do you know how much for a life?”

RZY Liu, “The Iceberg”

Hartley Hutchinson, “Mood Stone”

Sara Farhat, “Refugee”

Alena Loboda, “Not Ashamed”

Leru Xu, “friday”

Sana Mufti, “Hometown Refugee”

Halima Farah, “A Mile”

Aysha Sidiq, “A Hot Mess”

Téa Mutonji Gombe, “Après Viol” and “Some other kind of love”

Naziha Nasrin, “Closed Borders”

Sarah Hilton, “Visiting Hours”

Lucas McDonell, “Pepperpots and Rifle Scopes”

Chelsea La Vecchia, “The Womb on Pointe”

Trevon Smith, “Invisible Beasts”


Diersity and discomfort

2016 Conference: “A Showcase of Our Best”

Critical Essay Presenters

Christine Tran, “Improbable Bodies and Embodied Texts in Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Addison’s ‘The Adventures of a Shilling’”

Andilib Sajid, “Evocative: The Erotic in The Song of Solomon”

Katie Konstantopoulos, “Lopsided, Puckered and Whole: The Text as Body in Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals”

Hadia Khan, “Limited Vision: Control and Power in Woolf’s ‘The Mark on the Wall’”

Kieran McGarry, “Bringing the Wraiths to Life: The Traumatic Upheaval of Masculine Identity in The Virgin Suicides”

Ayesha Khan, “Piecing the Past Together: The Influence of Trauma on Narrative Style”

Sarah Kharbut, “The ‘Liberty’ of Montreal”

Katie Burke, “Reversal and Reflection: Consent in The Rape of Lucrece and A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Gabriella Bablanian, “Fun, Fun Never Changes: Apocalypse as Entertainment”

Katherine Lee, “Breaking the Boundaries of the White Knight Trope in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake”

Aishah Cader, “The Effects of Displacement in Rawi Hage’s Cockroach”

Laurentiu Medlicott, “The Deconstruction of the American Suburb: An Analysis of the Critiquing of the American Suburban Identity and Ideology in The Virgin Suicides”

Ted Zhang, “Postmemorial Criminal: Transgenerational Guilt and Victimhood in East of Berlin”

Sopika Sathiyaseelan, “‘Phantoms of Bliss’: Conceptualizing the ‘Neural Sublime’ in Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark”

Victoria Loder, “The Books of Anne Boleyn: Translation, Biblical Heresy, and Reform”


Creative Writing Presenters

Erin Maitland, “Blank” and “Writing”

Cesue Ma, “Snowdrops”

Jaymie Flis, “Shangri-La”

Noor Gatith, “Insomnia”

Shavindri  Rambukwelle, “Harmony”

Grayson Chong, “Three O’Clock” & “A Letter to Poison”

Trevor Cameron, “Video Games & Flow”

Victoria Loder, “A Flush in Spades”

Natasha Ramoutar, “From the Dust”

Ted Zhang, “Two Flights”

English undergrad conference

2015 Conference: “Crossing Boundaries”

Critical Essay Presenters

Jack Zapotochny, “Epic Vanity and Trivial Satire: Examining the Insignificant in The Rape of the Lock and Paradise Lost”

Chelsea La Vecchia, “No Man's Land: Nemo as Victorian Identity in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House”

Nishat Hoque, “The Political Sphere of Mrs. Dalloway”

Jamaal Azeez, “The Echo Chamber: Orwell, the Public Sphere and Social Media”

Allan Park, “Solidarity Through Cultural Fetishization: A Critical Analysis of Pharrell Williams’s ‘It Girl’”

Katie Konstantopoulos, “A Nation of Two Spirits: The Invisibilization of Indigenous People and Queer Sexuality”

Katherine Lee, “XX and XY = Girl and Guy: An Analysis of the Social Construction of Gender and its Association with Biological Sex”

Gabriella Bablanian, “BFFs: Female Friendships in Victorian Society”

Kalyani Sabanayagam, “‘From the frying pan into the fire’: The causes behind women’s feelings of oppression in 1920s Canada after entering the workforce”

Christine Tran, “Re-Mapping the Public Anatomy: Amending and Re-Inscribing the Gendered Precarity of the Public Sphere in Mary Astell’s A Serious Proposal for the Ladies & Anne Finch’s ‘The Spleen’”

Leanne Simpson, “‘Playing With Edged Tools’: Rewriting Gender in a Patriarchal Genre”

André Comiran Tonon, “Speaking of Boundaries: A Critical/Creative Reflection on Mental Illness and the Dramatic Monologue”

Aakriti Kapoor, “Critically Aware to Critically Alive: Building Evidenced Based Pedagogical Technologies”


Creative Writing Presenters

Chelsea La Vecchia, “Uncertain Certainties and the Quest for Real Life”

Natasha Ramoutar, “Inbetween”

Fiza Arshad, “Misconstrued Dopamine Self” and “Dowry”

Joshua Francis, “Baiting Nemo”

John Dias, “Open Heart”

Jack Zapotochny, “Apotheosis”

Kathleen Doyle, “20 Seconds of Breathless Anxiety”

John Rowntree, “Warrior”

Brandon Minia, “Immortal Hydrangea”

Victoria Loder, “Songbird”

Leanne Simpson, “The Zone”

Trevor Cameron, “A Modest Adventure”

crossing boundaries poster