In the search for understanding of the self, literature speaks to the complexity of human experience. How have our past experiences formed us? How do new technologies add another dimension to these unfolding narratives?  From October 30 to November 1, 2013, the Vanier College English Department will explore these topics over the course of a 3-day symposium entitled “Timeline.”  Each day will provide a specific focus: The Living Past: How Our Experiences Shape Our Stories; The Here and Now: Writing the Hyperlocal; and Looking Ahead: Literature in the Digital Age. 

Day 1:  How the Past shapes our stories
Some of the highlights of the Symposium include a Keynote presentation on Wednesday, October 30, by author Kim Thúy on the Living Past in which she will discuss her life, her work, and how history has shaped her story.  Her autobiographical novel Ru pieces together, in impressionistic vignettes, a portrait of her family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam and their experiences as immigrants in Quebec.

Student Panel on Interculturalism at Vanier College
Later the same day, a Student Panel on Interculturalism at Vanier College will explore the challenges many Vanier students face when the culture at school, at work, or among peers is at odds with the one at home.  Students will be able to express their unique experiences as immigrants in Montreal.

Montreal as a source of literary inspiration
Day 2 will focus on Montreal as a source of inspiration when Pam Berlow and Maggie McDonnell present Montreal Literature: A Portrait where they trace the threads of the city’s multiple personalities through some of its literary highlights, including Gabrielle Roy’s novel The Tin Flute, David Fennario’s play Balconville, Leonard Cohen’s poetry, as well as Josh Freed’s editorials and Aislin’s political cartoons.

At noon, in Finding Inspiration Around You, Montreal fiction writer Saleema Nawaz and poet David McGimpsey, will read from their work and reflect on how living in la belle ville has shaped their writing.  Saleema will read from her 2013 novel Bone and Bread, and David will read and discuss selections from his work, including his 2012 book of poetry, Li’l Bastard.

Literature of the future
Day 3 will look to the future when it explores Literature in the Digital Age. The question is, can video games be considered a new literary genre? A guest panel of game creators featuring C.J. Kershner (Ubisoft), Vander Caballero (Minority Media), and Jessica Rose Marcotte (Concordia University) will explore this question, giving an insider’s view of the creative writing process.

Next, two writers will debate other aspects of Digital literature. Poet and essayist Katia Grubisic presents a skeptical point of view on the topic, based on her essay “A Very Good Chance of Getting Somewhere Else” which was published in the collection The Edge of the Precipice: Why Read Literature in the Digital Age? Concordia English Literature Professor Jason Camlot presents a more optimistic view of digital technology, in the context of his project Spokenweb (, a web-based digital spoken word archive.

See the full schedule for more events and details.

2013 English Symposium news release Final

2013 English Symposium news release Final FR

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