CFP: [General] On the Possibility of Worlds - Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference

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Dora Zhang
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Call for Papers

On the Possibility of Worlds

An Interdisciplinary Conference at Princeton University, March 6-7, 2009

"But it creates, transcending these
Far other worlds, and other seas"
-Andrew Marvell

 The goal of this conference is to bring together graduate students and
faculty across the humanities and social sciences to discuss a topic
being studied in a variety of disciplines: the creation of worlds—real or
imaginary, human or divine, possible or impossible. By considering the
genesis of the worlds we live in and the worlds we create, we hope to
initiate a conversation about the borders of these worlds, the spaces in
which different approaches meet and interact. Possible worlds theory has
become influential in various areas of contemporary philosophy, including
metaphysics and philosophy of language, and has interesting applications
in the field of literary studies. What is ontological status of fictional
worlds created by literary texts, and what is the relationship between
these imaginary worlds and the actual one? The idea of possible worlds,
furthermore, provides a framework for thinking about topics ranging from
the discourse of colonization, utopianism, the changes wrought by
technological and scientific advancements, and the consequences of
immigration and globalization. Modal questions about contingency are
raised in debates about counterfactual history, while in the study of
religion, origin myths, theodicies, and questions of predestination all
rely on a concept of world creation.

The conference will include panels on the topic in literature,
philosophy, religion, and history. Each panel will have a respondent
drawn from the Princeton faculty: Professor D. Vance Smith in literature;
Professor Gideon Rosen in philosophy; and Gordon Graham, Henry Luce III
Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, in religion. Thomas Pavel,
Gordon J. Laing Distinguished Service Professor at the University of
Chicago, will deliver a keynote address.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

The ontology of fiction
Prophecies and predictions in literature

Modal questions in narrative theory (e.g. contingency in plot)

Narrative universes (e.g. Balzac, Marvel Comics)
Potentiality (e.g. Aristotle, Agamben)

Essence and existence (e.g. Avicenna, Leibniz)

Virtual realities
The Age of Discovery
Cosmologies (e.g. Lem, Bruno, Milton)
Counterfactual histories

Please submit abstracts of no more than 500 words to by December 15th. Abstracts should be
formatted for blind review, with a cover page listing the author’s name,
the paper title, institutional affiliation, and a brief biography. All
participants will be notified on or before January 15th.

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Received on Mon Nov 24 2008 - 15:26:01 EST

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