Call for Papers: OutLines: Undergraduate Symposium 2018 (Closed)

“When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out.”
– Vickie Karp

When we write, we begin with an outlinean out-line, an insight line. Our lines are vectors: lines with direction and force that move outwards to create out-words in lines that aren’t about toeing the line, but knowing the line, the flow of lines outpouring from between the rigid lines of prescription.

Yes, we live and write within lines and on lines, but we yearn to step out of the lines and cross the lines of convention, to write across and between and beyond the lines of orders and borders: we want out lines. We want out of the straight and narrow: we want to open the radial, the circular, the recursive, the multi-directional and multi-modal beams and streams of thought. We want to break out of narrow channels of thought to create new lines of light and flight. We don’t want to stand in line; we want to write from the line to stand out, a stance we will be taking next spring at OutLines.

OutLines is a symposium for undergraduate students held by the Professional Writing Students’ Association. On April 27, 2018, students will come together to share their knowledge and present 10 minute papers that explore or bring new insights to the topics of writing, language and communication. The PWSA symposium organizers invite proposals for critical, creative, scholarly or blended-genre papers that open new conversations about writing in the 21st century.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Writing in Digital Mediums (e.g. on the Internet, social media, or by text message)
  • Writing and the Fine Arts (e.g. music notation or visual art as language)
  • Writing in Different Genres, Disciplines or Industries
  • Writing on Controversial and Sensitive Topics
  • Poetry in Politics, Business or Law
  • Personal or Public Writing
  • Creative Writing and Reality
  • Chasing, Creating, Embracing Inspiration
  • Writing Process
  • Writing Conventions and When/Why We Break Them
  • How or Why We Edit
  • Structure and Form
  • Grammar Matters (How to Write Good)
  • Roles and Perspectives of Authors and Readers
  • Lexicography
  • Multilingualism, Translation, Code-Switching, and All Your Englishes
  • Languages and the Brain or Personality
  • Communication and People with Disabilities (e.g. Braille, Sign Languages)
  • History of Language, Writing or Communication Technologies

Application has been closed. Should you need to reach us, please contact


Q: What is this symposium?
A: OutLines: Undergraduate Symposium 2018 is the first symposium organized by York University’s Professional Writing Students’ Association. The symposium will have the typical format of a graduate conference: there will be different panels consisted of four panelists whose papers are thematically similar. Each panelist will read out their paper to the attendants, and a discussion will ensue.

The theme of the symposium is writing and writing in all fields, such as in music, in science, in business and in translation. It will be a symposium of writers where we discuss writing and celebrate writing.

Q: Is the symposium only for Professional Writing students?
A: Not at all—writing is essential in every single discipline. Music notation, scientific reports, mathematics, Braille, sign languages: these all count as writing. Therefore, we encourage people from other disciplines to submit abstracts to shed lights on the writing in their field of studies.

Q: How will the symposium benefit me?
A: This symposium is, by nature, a conference. Conferences are usually only associated with graduate school, and are rarely seen in undergraduate studies. Having presented in a conference during your undergraduate studies is an amazing experience to put on your CV or resume to wow your future graduate school admission committee and/or employers. During the symposium, you will be able to share your ideas on writing with others who are as passionate about writing as you, and discuss everything about writing with them. Furthermore, your paper will be published on the online literary magazine Inventio—this website you are on—under “Conference Proceedings” as a record of your achievement.

Being a panelist in this symposium, in short, is an amazing opportunity for you as a writer, thinker, and voice of the future.

Q: What is an abstract?
A: The 250-word abstract should clearly state what your paper will be on—kind of like an essay proposal, where you include your thesis and state how you will go about expanding it. You should consider including things like which perspective(s) you will be using to discuss or argue about your topic, what references or examples you will be using etc.

Q: What kind of paper are you looking for?
A: We want papers that bring new insight, perspective and/or ideas about writing. While well-researched and well-supported papers are preferable, we are not looking for academic papers. Papers with conversational tone will be the best—remember, you will be reading out your paper to your audience. Don’t make them fall asleep!

Q: When/how will I know if I’ve been selected?
A: The PWSA Symposium Council will carefully read through all abstracts and select the ones that are the aptest, most insightful and most intriguing. We want to inform our applicants as soon as possible. If you submitted your abstract by January 31st, you will hear from us no later than mid-February.

Q: Is there a min/max length for my paper?
A: Yes. Since each panelist’s presentation will be roughly around ten minutes, your paper should be around four to five pages long depending on how fast you read.

Q: How long do I have to present for?
A: As long as it takes to read your paper, which should be about four to five pages in length.

Q: Are poetry and other literary forms acceptable?
A: As long as it brings something unique, new, or interesting about writing, it is acceptable. After all, we are holding a celebration of writers, and writers write in different forms.

Q: What day will I be expected to have the paper done?
A: On the day of the symposium, which is April 27, 2018.

Q: Can I use a paper I wrote for a class?
A: No.

Q: Will I be writing the paper by myself?
A: Yes, but we are also accepting collaborations. We encourage you to seek writing and editing help for your paper as well.

Q: Where can I get help with my paper?
A: Don’t worry, we won’t hang you out to dry. The PWSA and Professor Baus will hold several writing workshops to help you with your paper and prepare you for the symposium. Be sure to attend them if your abstract is accepted!

Q: What if the strike happens?
A: It won’t stop this celebration of writers and writing.

Depending on how long the strike lasts, we might just have to push the date of the symposium to later. Don’t worry, you will be informed of any changes of the schedule made if classes are pushed back due to the strike.