March 2021 Conference Program and Registration



The Octavia E. Butler Literary Society and the St. Catherine University Abigail Quigley McCarthy Center for Women Present:

The Confluence: Octavia E. Butler At the Intersection of Cultural Critique and Climate Collapse  (Virtual meeting March 6-7, 2021)

A confluence is the place where two rivers meet. It is a place of not only great energy but great power and creativity. Located at one of the great confluences,  the Twin Cities occupy this place called Bdote – “where two waters come together” – that is sacred to the Dakota people. The Octavia E. Butler Literary Society invites you to join us virtually at this sacred place of power and creativity for the third biennial conference where we will feature work honoring Butler. Our host is St. Catherine University in St. Paul MN.

The Octavia E. Butler Literary Society was formed to occupy the space at the intersection of the Academy and the Community. We are pleased to welcome Erin Sharkey and Signe Harriday, the curators of our community engagement and presentations.

There is no fee to attend the conference. However, you must register to receive a link on the day of the event. Please see the Eventbrite at the end of the program schedule below.

Contact:   Tarshia L Stanley,                                                                           Or,   651.690.8846

Image courtesy of St. Catherine University student Karla Scherber. (Untitled, oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″)

Calling all Artists: The St. Catherine University Catherine G. Murphy Gallery invites artists to participate in Speculative Futures, Present Imaginations, a virtual community art exhibition celebrating the visionary writings of Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006).

Please see the Murphy Gallery page for additional information.

CONFERENCE PROGRAM Saturday March 6, 2021

(All times are Central Standard Time)

9:00am-10:00am Welcome and History

Ed Chang–Ohio University–Vice President OEB Literary Society

Sharon Doherty–St. Catherine University–Director Abigail Quigley McCarthy Center for Women

Tarshia Stanley–St. Catherine University–Founding President OEB Literary Society

Integrated Learning at St. Kate’s

Integrated Learning at St. Catherine University is a university wide approach to highlighting the intersection of our creative energy and critical reflection. It is our approach to partnering academics with activism, the paper with the performance, and the campus with the community.

Video presentation Parable of the Sower: The Integrated Learning Series at St. Catherine University 2018-2021.” 


Ashley Chavez, St. Catherine University, ’21 Public Health (Public Policy/ Community Health Worker)

Chelsea B. Osademe, PhD Student, Department of American Studies, University of Minnesota

10:15am-11:30am Session 1A

Corporeal Boundaries

“I Must Strip Down Through Layers of Attenuated Meanings”: Ethnomaternity, Butler’s Radical Mothers, and the Fugitive Feminist Futurity of Octavia Butler” Amanda Awanjo—University of Pittsburgh

“Gender and Carcerality in Octavia Butler’s Fiction” Gabriella Friedman—Cornell University

“Something Other Than You Were”: Dawn’s Abolitionist Subjects, the End of Human Capital, and the Problem of Resilience” Travis Sands—Metropolitan State University

Community Presentation and Engagement 11:45am-12:45pm Session 1B

Conversation Exploring Octavia E. Butler and Parable of the Sower:  Lisa Marie Brimmer and SooJin Pate with Imagine Joy and BrotherHood Dance

12:45pm-1:15pm Break and Reflect

1:15pm-2:30pm Session 1C

Corporeal Expansion

“Hyperempathy and Pandemics: A Medical Humanities Approach to Reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Clay’s Ark” Holly Lowe Jones—University of Oregon

“Speculative Disease & New Materialist Disability Theory in Butler’s “The Evening the Morning and The Night.” Nicole McCleese—Michigan State University 

“Borrowed Bodies: Bioethics, Class, and Race in Octavia Butler and Hanya Yanagihara’s Fiction” Ashely B. Tisdale—University of South Florida.

2:45pm-4:00pm Session 1D


Branches of Butler: Earthseeds of Pedagogy Rooted in Empathy

Inspired by the four directions of the Native American medicine wheel this roundtable will address themes and conflicts of constructed identities and their historical and political impact on contemporary identities and experiences relative to social structures and human experiences. Educators, writers/poets, artists, art historians, nurses and healers will reflect on the impact that Butler’s works have had on their pedagogy, curriculum development, creative and personal work and life of Octavia E. Butler

Taiyon J. Coleman, St. Catherine University 

Suzanne Lehman, St. Catherine University 

Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen, St. Catherine University

Dawn Quigley, St. Catherine University

Community Presentation and Engagement 4:15pm-5:30pm Session 1E

Ananya Chatterjea and Ananya Dance Theatre (video and conversation). Join Ananya Chatterjea and Sharon Bridgforth to view Dastak 3. Fire followed by a conversation about their collaboration and the Octavian resonance and vibrations in their work. Dastak means knockings, and the dance traces the knockings of global injustices on our hearts through four sections: Earth, Water, Fire, and Air.

5:30pm-6:50pm Break and Reflect

Special Evening Performance Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely

7pm-8:30pm Central Standard Time

 Toshi Reagon  Singer, Songwriter, Musician,

Photo credit: Desdemona Burgin

One year from the last performance of the opera Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower at CAP UCLA We get to celebrate with song and dive back into this great work that resonates so precisely with our here and now. Featuring songs from the opera Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Many of us were members of the company that played the sold out performance at the O’Shaughnessy in 2019.  We are so happy to return as part of The Confluence: Octavia E. Butler At the Intersection of Cultural Critique and Climate Collapse. Our engagement with the Twin Cities community is ongoing. In addition to our musical performance we are happy to create in collaboration with Ananya Chatterjea of  The artist- Robert Burke- Drums, Carla Duren – Vocals, Ganessa James- Bass, Josette Elaine Newsam- Vocals, Adam Widoff- Guitar, Toshi Reagon- Vocals/Guitar. 

Sunday March 7, 2021

(All times are Central Standard Time)

9:00am-10:00am Business Meeting

10:15am-11:30am Session 2F

Shaping Vision, Shaping Thought

“Escaping Signification through Butler’s “A Necessary Being” Kristen Lillvis—Marshall University

“Human:alien interactions as bio/technological and epistemic intervention in Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn” Kristen Reynolds—University of Minnesota

“The Cover As Critique: Visualizing 40 Years Of Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred”  Christine Montgomery—California State, University Sacramento and Ellen C. Caldwell–Mt. San Antonio College

11:45am-12:45pm Session 2G


Changing Faith: Religious Practices and Ideology in the Works of Octavia E. Butler.

This roundtable explores the upcoming edited collection. Essays explore Butler’s religious imagination, placing her fiction in new and provocative interpretive contexts to demonstrate and share the intellectual spiritual vitality of her work. While scholars have extensively published on the Parable series, this is the first collection to focus solely on how Butler shapes spiritual and religious ideology, across all of her works.  


Shelby L. Crosby—University of Memphis

Apara Nanda—University of California, Berkeley

Brianna Thompson—Cornell University

Briana Whiteside—University of Nevada Las Vegas

Ebony Gibson—Georgia Gwinnett College

Phyllis L. Burns—Otterbein University

Keegan Osinski—Vanderbilt University

Tarshia Stanley—St. Catherine University

12:45pm-1:15pm Break and Reflect

Community Presentation and Engagement 1:15pm-2:30pm Session 2H

Inspired by Earthseed, Million Artist Movement (MAM) has been hosting Sowing Sessions as opportunities for community to gather and support each other.  Join MAM for this Sowing Session where you’ll be invited into dialog and creation around Earthseed and MAM’s Power Tree Quilt.
The quilts are a way to bring together and recognize the many powerful initiatives working for the liberation of Black people around the world. They embody the extensive power that community has to resist, celebrate, honor, dismantle, imagine and build together.

2:45pm-4:00pm Session 2I

Spiritual Destinies

“Guiding Light: Representations of Spiritual Activism in Octavia Butler’s Patternist series” Ebony Gibson—Georgia Gwinnett College

“The Portrait was a Black Madonna”: Octavia E. Butler, Politics of Representation, and the Black Church” Kendra R. Parker—Georgia Southern University

“Convergent Cosmology: Earthseed as Both Destiny and Destination in Octavia Butler’s Parable Series” R. Nicole Smith—Spelman College 

Community Presentation and Engagement 4:15pm-5:30pm Session 2J

Octavia E. Butler Dome hermitage dedication at Rootsprings Farm and Alchemy of Change offerings with Free Black Dirt

5:30pm-6:00pm    End and Reflect