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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. Information on past conferences can be obtained through the "Past Conferences" link on the sidebar.




Current CFP (available here as a pdf file)


Masking the Self: Secrets, Disguise, and Mysteries

The 24th annual Mardi Gras Conference invites scholars to investigate discourses on secrecy, anonymity, rumor, masking/masquerading, and mysterious places in literature and writing--along with discovering the hidden treasure in the king cake.

Masquerading, secrets, and intrigue feature prominently as themes of the Carnival celebration from Venice to New Orleans. In Venice, elaborate Carnival masks enable revelers to celebrate in disguise, while in New Orleans, the tradition continues with many masked krewes. For these krewes, not only is the identity of their king unknown by the public, the theme of their parade remains a guarded secret until the day of the event, creating an air of mystery and suspense.

By examining the long tradition of Carnival, masques, and masquerading, we can better understand the interplay among masks, identity, and assumed personas. This is important and relevant today as we continue to role-play, apply makeup to our faces, and even "pass," as students, teachers, lovers, stereotypes, radicals, women, men, characters, and sheer possibility.
Please submit an abstract that speaks to one or several of the following themes:

• Carnival/carnivalesque and masquerades
• Identity, anonymity, and masks
• Stolen identities and multiple personalities
• Costuming, makeup, and disguise
• Racial masking and gender performance
• Passing, acting, and role-play
• Masques and fictive/idealized selves
• Secrets, codes, and clandestine societies
• Places of intrigue – the court, royal coteries, courthouses, country estates, and cities – and games of thrones
• Mysterious/gothic spaces – abbeys and castles
• The criminal, the hidden, and the forbidden
• Rumors, whispers, and slander

Both scholarly and creative presentations (papers, fiction, roundtable discussions, performances, videos, etc.) are welcomed. For scholarly papers and creative works, please submit an abstract of 250 words along with a working title as an attachment, in addition to your contact information, including name, institutional affiliation, degree level, email address, and phone number.

Maximum presentation time: 20 minutes

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Henry Abelove

Please send submissions to with the subject line “Mardi Gras 2014 Submission.” Although late submissions may be considered, the preferred deadline for submissions is Monday, December 16, 2013. Questions may be directed to the conference organizers, Christie Mills Jeansonne and Cristina Rosell.


For important conference hotel and local information, please see the sidebar links.


About the Keynote Speaker

Henry Abelove was educated at Harvard College (A. B.,’66) and at Yale University (Ph.D.,’78).  During his career as a university teacher, he has belonged to departments of History, of English, and of American Studies. He has taught at Yale University, Brown University, New York University, Princeton University, Wesleyan University --where he spent most of his career -- and Harvard University, where in 2012 he served as the F. O. Matthiessen Visiting Professor of Gender and Sexuality. Now retired from full-time teaching, he is the Willbur Fisk Osborne Professor of English, Emeritus, of Wesleyan University.

Abelove has authored two books – The Evangelist of Desire: John Wesley and the Methodists (Stanford University Press, 1990) and Deep Gossip (University of Minnesota Press, 2003) – and he has co-edited two others – Visions of History (Pantheon, 1983) and The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader (Routledge, 1993). He has published articles and essays in a wide variety of journals, and he has given invited public lectures at more than thirty colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. For five years he was director of Wesleyan University’s Center for the Humanities. He has served on the editorial board of the Wesleyan University Press and of three journals -- Eighteenth-Century Studies, Genders, and The Journal of Homosexuality. He has also served as Chair of the Committee on Lesbian and Gay History. He has been a Member and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., and he has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He has also been a Fulbright Commission Senior Specialist.

Abelove won Wesleyan University’s Binswanger Award for Excellence in Teaching, and he was appointed as the Stanley Kelly, Jr., Visiting Professor for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University. The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader won the Lambda Prize. Abelove also won the Michael Lynch Service Award for Activism in Queer Studies Scholarship.

Abelove lives in New York City. He is at work on a book on the intellectual and cultural history of the gay liberation movement.