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Conference: In-Between: Liminal Spaces in Canadian Literature and Culture


Dear participants of “In-Between” conference,

we hope you all had a safe trip home and enjoyed your stay in Graz.

The conference team would like to thank you whole-heartedly for taking the time to come to our university and attend the conference.

We feel this was a very productive event with wonderful keynote lectures and panels. Thanks for bringing yourselves in so productively!

We hope to see you in Graz again at some point.


Very best wishes from the conference Team

Stefan Brandt / Ulla Kriebernegg / Susanne Hamscha /Simon Whybrew     




International Conference in cooperation with the Center of Inter-American Studies (C.IAS) / Graz, 2 - 4 June, 2016


  • Call for Papers: 
    The deadline has been extended to 1 Feb 2016!
  • Accommodation:
    We strongly recommend that you make hotel reservations well in advance, as the University of Technology will hold a large conference the very same weekend.
    The deadline will be on 4 May 2016. Please recognise that only general inquiries or reservations can be made after that date. 
  • Registration:
    Please register for the conference between 15 February and 25 April 2016 by using the offered online registration possibility.
    Please recognise the extended deadline until 30 May 2016!
  • Conference Start and Registration: 2 June, 3 - 5 p.m.
    Registering also possible on day 2 (3 June, 8.30 - 9 a.m.) 

  • Official End of the Conference: 4 June, 2:30 p.m.
    Optional City Tour starts at 2:30 p.m.




In Canadian Studies, the complex concept of ‘liminality’ has been used in a variety of ways. There is an abundance of scholarship and research dealing with the stage ‘betwixt and between,’ as Victor Turner most famously defined it (1964). This conference aims at re-mapping the field, focusing on liminality and the liminal within Canada.

The terms ‘liminal’ and ‘liminality’ refer to multiple levels of meaning. Originally developed by cultural anthropologist Arnold van Gennep in his seminal studies on rites of passage in 1909, and re-discovered by Victor Turner in the 1960s, the spatial metaphor of ‘liminality’ has particularly since the ‘Spatial Turn’ become a keyword in contemporary cultural theory to refer to processes of identity negotiation connected to experiences of transition. It has been used in connection with terms such as ‘border,’ ‘frontier,’ and ‘threshold,’ and in opposition to the equally metaphorical concept of ‘marginality.’ While marginality connotes ‘periphery,’ and thus mainly focuses on exclusion from and by dominant discourses, liminality is concerned with the space of the borderline itself, with feelings of ambiguity and ambivalence.

Liminality can be experienced as challenging, uncomfortable, threatening, and disruptive, but also as subversive and powerful, as a stage facilitating creativity and change. In the context of (Anglo-) Canadian Studies, liminality has been employed to discuss geographical frontiers such as the Niagara Falls, the St. Laurence River, the Rocky Mountains, the Canadian Prairies, British Columbia, Quebec, and the Arctic, as well as symbolic frontiers including migration, French-English relations, encounters between First Nations and settlers, and Northrop Frye’s ‘garrison mentality.’ Liminality has also been examined as an aesthetic concept in its relation to the sublime and the uncanny.

As a theoretical concept, liminality can be of help for an analysis of the constructedness of Canada’s collective identity/identities as well as of individual processes of identification and change. These observations lead us to the following questions: How has the Canadian cultural imaginary fashioned itself with regard to the ‘boundariness’ of its social and identificatory practices? Which role do symbolic ‘frontiers’ play in Canadian discourses of self-representation (with respect to inner-Canadian border areas, but also in comparison to the U.S. American frontier)? How do ethnic, sexual, and other minorities position themselves in this nexus of liminal identities?

This conference aims at bringing together scholars who wish to engage in a discussion of Canadian liminal spaces and places, of fragmented and contradictory social, cultural, and political practices, of real and imagined borders, contact zones, thresholds, and transitions in Anglo-Canadian literature and culture.  

Conveners: Stefan Brandt. Susanne Hamscha. Ulla Kriebernegg. Simon Daniel Whybrew. 



Department of American Studies
Attemsgasse 25/II, 8010 Graz
Office: Sonja Schmeh Phone:+43 (0)316 380 - 2465
Fax:+43 (0)316 380 - 9768


Mon. - Fri. 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


Center for Inter-American Studies (C.IAS)
Merangasse 18/II, 8010 Graz
Phone:+43 (0)316 380 - 8213
Fax:+43 (0)316 380 - 9767


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