Mardi Gras Conference

Conference History

The LSU English Graduate Student Association’s annual Mardi Gras Conference takes place every year on the week prior to Mardi Gras. This conference has a long and prestigious history, and it is currently in its 23rd year through the financial support of PSIF Organizational Support, the English department, and the EGSA.  Presenters have come not only from the United States but also from across the world, including Canada, Israel, England, Germany, and a host of other countries.  Furthermore, the conference has attracted many top scholars as keynote speakers, such as Terry Eagleton, Brian McHale, Cathy Davidson, Timothy Brennan, and Meredith McGill.


28th Annual Mardi Gras Graduate Student Conference at LSU

Rendering Rituals: On Memory and Memorializing

Keynote Speaker: Cynthia Cruz

February 7-9, 2018

Mardi Gras as an event, a reiteration of experience across time, and a kind of ritual renders the new

and the old as occurring simultaneously: our past always directly affects our present. This temporal

boundary crossing reiterates and simultaneously invokes the past in every instance. In Gender Trouble ,

Judith Butler describes ritual as related to the repetition of gender performance across time, which

denaturalizes the concept and instantiates gender as socially constructed. What if we apply Butler’s

logic of the ritual to other concepts of human experience, such as race, religion, sexuality, and

disability? Orienting ourselves within this Butlerian logic, we as scholars might think about how to

interpret these ritual practices in memory. We as humans consistently memorialize the past, so

during this conference, we want to ask: how does such memorialization affect contemporary life?

While this concept of ritual does exist in the theoretical realm, how does this become materialized

and embodied in the world, such as in festivals like Mardi Gras or in physical sites such as the

archive? To this end, how does memory as something internal affect and influence our external and

material world? We hope to investigate these questions and consider a wide range of scholarship and

perspectives as we interrogate the tensions between, and influences of, the past and the present.

Finally, we ask: how do the metaphoric and the literal interact as we memorialize histories across

time? The 28th annual Mardi Gras Graduate Student Conference welcomes submissions on a variety

of topics relating to the interdisciplinary study of language, history, literature, culture, rhetoric, new

media, performance, and pedagogy. Graduate students are encouraged to submit papers, and we

welcome a variety of proposals from different fields of study in hopes of productively engaging with

the tensions across different disciplinary sites.


This year’s keynote speaker is American poet Cynthia Cruz, the author of Wunderkammer (Four Way

Books, 2014), The Glimmering Room (Four Way Books, 2012), and Ruin (Alice James, 2006). She has

published poems in numerous literary journals and magazines including the New Yorker , Kenyon

Review , the Paris Review , and the Boston Review , and in anthologies including Isn't it Romantic: 100 Love

Poems by Younger Poets (2004), and The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetrie s (2004). She is the

recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and a Hodder fellowship from

Princeton University. Cruz teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She has previously taught at

the Juilliard School, Fordham University, the Rutgers-Newark MFA Program and Eugene Lang

College. Born in Germany, Cruz grew up in northern California, where she earned her BA at Mills

College, her MFA in Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and her MFA in Art Writing &

Criticism at the School of Visual Arts. She and has published essays, interviews, book and art

reviews in the LA Review of Books , Hyperallergic , Guernica , The American Poetry Review , and The

Rumpus. She lives in Brooklyn.



Please email Carly Rubin and Jeremy Cornelius at with any questions

For more information, see our website: