Greek philosopher Socrates in front of the National Academy of Athens

Call for papers and student artistic submissions for fall Humanities conference

Dawson’s Humanities and Public Life Conference will take place from Oct. 21-25, 2024, and the theme will be aesthetics. Philosophers have pondered the arts and artists since the time of Socrates. Our goal with this year’s humanities conference is to explore the very real relationship between the arts and humanities. How have philosophers and those within the tradition of the humanities grappled with the arts and artists?   For the purposes of this proposal, we consider literature, poetry, film, theatre, music, the visual arts and the culinary arts within our horizon of interest.

Our goal is to have a different kind of humanities conference. We would like to have talks & presentations but also performances whereby artists perform and then explain their approach to the performance. So, we would like to combine performance with discussion, underlining for our students the premises that lie behind performance and the arts in general.

Students are also invited to present their creative work. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to the conference to discuss with panelists their creative work in terms of the concepts that have been applied from their humanities course.  First and second prizes will be awarded for poetry, short stories, song writing, film, and visual arts that incorporate content and concepts from their humanities courses.  Dawson students are therefore invited to submit work to the appropriate panel. A separate call for submissions has been issued and distributed throughout the college.

To make it relevant for our budding conference goers, presentations should reference one or more of the three categories of Humanities courses offered at Quebec colleges: Knowledge, World Views and Ethics. Consistent with our theme, here are some examples of potential presentation topics:

The Arts and the Knowledge Course:

Knowledge courses are premised on the ancient branch of philosophy called epistemology. In terms of the arts, questions about the perception and judgment of beauty involve questions like, why is the eye attracted to certain visuals? How does our brain work when we listen to music? Is there an objective standard of beauty that we could all agree upon, or is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Why do certain colours evoke emotions or states of being?  Why do certain rhythms inspire us to dance?   How is our ear sharpened to discern certain things? How are our eyes opened to notice certain things? What is the relationship between the mind and the body when we learn to play an instrument or dance? For example, how should students of music approach practice and self-discipline? How should parents approach music or art lessons for their kids? Given the surge in AI accessibilty, how should we assess originality?

The Arts & Worldviews

There are many questions that can be explored in terms of worldviews. How do different religious traditions view aesthetics? How do different cultural traditions see our relationship to art, expression and to objects in general? What is the relationship between politics and art? For example, how do the arts play a role in the culture wars between left and right? How have art and music been enlisted for political purposes?

The Arts & Ethics:

In terms of ethics, there are many possible topics we could explore.  Now that AI is part of the digital landscape, how should we deal with it in terms of creativity and claims to originality? What options do we have? Should we embrace it or try to manage or control it? Should we find a way to protect and promote local or national cultures in the digital age? Should online platforms like Spotify be subject to Canadian content legislation? In the age of the internet, is Canadian content something meaningful? Do governments have a duty to protect, promote and fund culture? In the last few years, questions about cultural appropriation have arisen. How should they be resolved?  Is there is a problem with how we fund the arts in Canada?  To what extent should music and the visual arts be nurtured among children at the primary and secondary level? Should we enjoy the work of artists who are controversial in their political leanings or in their personal life?

These are just a few ideas. We encourage you to craft your own topic based on your expertise and area interest.

Format: We have three formats. A traditional talk or presentation should be around 35-45 minutes long. They will be followed by approximately 15 minutes of questions. The talks should be accessible and engaging for a general audience consisting largely of CEGEP students who have only recently graduated from high school. If you have any doubts about the level of your presentation, please consult us.

Also, we’d like to have performances with an explanation component. What are the ideas that underlie a performance? These performances/talks will be part of our Mind/Body Series at the conference. There is limited space for this series, so apply soon.

Thirdly, we will accept artistic submissions from registered students who want to connect creativity with the content or concepts from their humanities courses. A separate call for submissions has been issued and distributed throughout the college.

Please send a 150-word presentation summary and title, along with a very short bio, to Sean Elliott ( by June 21, 2024.

Call for Student Artistic Submissions for the Fall 2024 Humanities Conference

The Dawson Humanities Department is looking for young writers, screenwriters, filmmakers, poets, artists and songwriters!

The Annual Humanities conference will be about the arts. We would like to feature student work that combines Humanities course content and concepts with creativity. Submissions will be pre-selected, and then the short-listed candidates will present their work to a panel at the conference, who will award a prize of $200 for the first-place work and $100 for the second-place prize. There will be five panels: Visual Arts, English, French, Music and ALC. Your work will be judged on the grasp and application of the humanities concept or theme, and your creativity.

Convene with your humanities teacher and then contact Sean Elliott via MIO or at Submissions accepted until September 20, 2024. Specify what panel you’d like your work to be submitted to. Only registered Dawson students can submit work.

Last Modified: March 28, 2024