Methods Symposium 2016: New Approaches in Queer, Postcolonial and Black Studies

Event date/time: 

Friday, March 11, 2016 - 9:30am to 5:30pm
Location at UMass Amherst, room to be announced

Call for Proposals:

  • We invite applications from UMass-Amherst graduate students for the “Methods Symposium 2016” to be held Friday, March 11, from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm (room TBA).
  • Please apply to one of the following workshop groups as described below: queer studies, postcolonial studies or black studies.
  • We’re excited to announce that three prominent scholars have agreed to facilitate the workshops and participate in a public roundtable: Heather Love (UPenn), Lisa Lowe (Tufts) and Christina Sharpe (Tufts).
  • There is no cost to participate in the workshops or to attend the public roundtable.
  • Refreshments and a reception are included.

Proposal Due Date: January 29, 2016

Description of the Event:

Graduate students from the English Department at UMass-Amherst invite you to participate in a one-day symposium devoted to the question of method. Literary studies has traditionally concerned itself with “theory” rather than “method.” Yet the turn toward interdisciplinary and social scientific methods in feminist, queer, black and postcolonial studies suggests the need for more reflexivity upon the ways in which we conduct research, evaluate texts and construct interpretive frameworks about our subjects. This symposium invites graduate students from across the humanities and social sciences whose work makes methodological interventions in queer, postcolonial and/or black studies to participate in workshops and a panel discussion that ask the question “What methods; why now?”

While Gabrielle Griffin’s Research Methods for English Studies distinguishes “method” as how researchers approach their objects of study and “methodology” as the critical perspective within which the research is undertaken, we may conceptualize “method” in a variety of ways, including:

  • modes of analysis
  • choice of archive
  • canon formation and recovery work
  • citational practices
  • question formation
  • positionality
  • coding
  • inter- and multi-disciplinarity
  • modes of data collection (quantitative/qualitative analysis, discourse analysis, archival work)
  • modes of writing (autobiography, ethnography, autoethnography)

We welcome graduate students who conduct research on human subjects, communities, texts or archival materials, and who use (or are considering) quantitative, qualitative or discourse-based methods.

This one-day event will feature concurrent workshops in queer, postcolonial and black studies, respectively, which will allow participants to receive feedback from eminent scholars and graduate peers in their individual fields and to collaboratively reflect upon “what we talk about when we talk about method.” Participants will be expected to pre-read peers’ proposals and offer critical comments and/or questions before the workshops commence as well as to contribute to a working archive of field-specific methodological resources. It is our hope that each participant will walk away from the event with both a clearer understanding of “method” and insights into how method and/or methodologies might inform their own projects. Each of the three workshops will consist of approximately ten graduate students and will be guided by an invited non-UMass faculty member. The afternoon roundtable — as well as the reception that follows it — will allow for a large-group discussion about methods as interpreted and practiced by our invited scholars.

How to Apply:

  • By January 29, 2016, please send a maximum 750-word description of your current research to the event organizers at If you know your method, please describe it and tell us why you have chosen it. If you are unclear about your method, please identify what questions you have about method and how these questions are interacting with the state of your research/project. Please also include a list of 3-5 citations (articles or books) from your field that have influenced your method/ology. Our hope is to archive these on our website and/or use them as framing texts for discussion during the workshops.

  • If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at or to visit

This symposium is generously supported by a number of sponsors at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst: the Departments of English, Communication, History, Sociology, Political Science, Spanish and Portuguese, French and Italian, German and Scandinavian, Language, Literatures, and Cultures, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; the Graduate School and College of Humanities and Fine Arts; and the Institute for Social Science Research and Interdisciplinary Studies Institute.


108 Bartlett Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
United States
108 Bartlett Hall Amherst MA