Conference 2023

46th Annual Conference: Failure!

October 4-8, 2023 Norfolk, VA Sponsored by Towson University and Northern Kentucky University

Towson University and Northern Kentucky University are co-sponsors in planning the 2023 OSCLG conference, which will convene at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel. The conference will feature interdisciplinary scholarship, performances, and activism around the theme of Failure. As Berlant notes in her explanation of cruel optimism, our lives are shaped through attachments to ideas or objects that move us forward towards an imagined ideal life. As we grow up, these ideas and objects drive our goals or paralyze us with fear. They shape our everyday performances of self, and our expectations of others. Our paths are charted by the cruel optimism of possibility for a better life, a happier life, a richer life. These ideas and objects, though, are cruel because they don’t really exist, and ignore the implications of race, class, ability, sexuality, or gender in the hope of imagining a bright and shiny utopian futurity. We are doomed to never attain this ideal. We are doomed to fail. However, following Sedgewick, a reparative reading of failure recovers possibility within the cruelty. For OSCLG 2023, we invite submissions that explore failure and all the emergent reparative possibilities within it through various lenses. Topics may include but are not limited to the following: the failure of race/nation/hetero/homo/ability normativity, failure in communication at both macro and micro levels, ways in which the intersections of life create more opportunities for failure and/or for the witnessing of failure, the effects of our failure as scholars and teachers, the ways that our failures reshape our lived experiences, the vulnerability of failure, or an exploration of how we recover from failure. We invite you to embrace failure with us in Norfolk.

Submissions are invited for presentations in oral or multimodal formats including extended abstracts, papers, posters, panels, and performances that address all aspects of communication, language, and gender. Sessions are scheduled for 90 minutes. Presentation time will be planned to allow for discussion at each session.

Participants may have more than one submission but no participant will be scheduled as a presenter for more than two sessions.

Submissions will open April 1, 2023.

All submissions are due June 15, 2023, with decisions about acceptance expected by July 15.

Please send any submission questions via email to Jessica Kratzer at or Desirée Rowe at


Travel Info

Hotel: Sheraton Norfolk Waterside 777 Waterside Drive Norfolk, VA 23510 (757) 622-6664

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