by Sarah Dangelantonio, 2015 Convention Chair
One of the most enjoyable, yet challenging tasks for a convention chair and convention committee is coming up with the theme for the convention. For me, the trick is to develop one that not only allows for a wide range of exploration for student critical and creative work but that also speaks to the location for the convention and helps to focus decisions about a common reader and the headlining speakers. With the help of a creative group of convention committee members, and after plenty of wordsmithing, we have chosen the theme Borderlands and Enchantments for the 2015 Convention in Albuquerque, NM. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about the possibilities and the options this theme encourages.
New Mexico itself is a kind of borderland; once home to a large population of American Indian tribes, including Ute, Apache, Comanche, Paiute, Hopi, and Anasazi, it was later part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and even later it became part of the United States. It’s a place of borders and separations and yet it’s one of the anchor states of the Southwestern Region. It’s a place that has not only prairies, grasslands, plains, and deserts, but also steppes, high plains, plateaus, buttes, mountains, and mesas. When I think about the notion of borderlands and tease out the first part of the term, I begin to catalog the various synonyms for borders: margins, gray-areas, edges, delineating lines, separations, joinings—some of these notions are indeed paradoxical, but these dualities speak to the many avenues of exploration our theme provides. With borders being real or imagined, physical or cultural, isolating or encompassing, there are myriad ways to incorporate the borderlands and borders into original creative work or to use these terms to write a critical piece on a work of literature. Borderlands also suggests a physical boundary, so you might even find yourself wanting to explore the borderlands in the dualities of literature, like the border between collections of stories and novels, lyric poetry and prose poems, realism and magical realism. Imagine the possibilities! New Mexico’s moniker, The Land of Enchantment, was the initial impetus for the Enchantments component of our theme and it too has many paths to explore. It’s not a stretch to imagine how enchanted places might find their way into your creative pieces or how works about enchantment, magical realism, and fantasy might become the focus of your critical work. Whatever direction you find yourself heading as you consider the convention, there’s no shortage of paths to explore in both critical and creative work.