CFP: Decadence: Excess, Erosion, and Transgression (12/1/06; VSGSA, 3/2/07-3/3/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Decadence Conference
contact email:


The 2007 UC Irvine Visual Studies Graduate Student Association Conference
March 2-3, 2007


"Decadent" is typically a value judgment, and a pejorative one at
that, associated with particular artistic styles, habits of
consumption, and historical periods. For example, when fin de si=E8cle
members of the Symbolist and Aesthetic Movements were derided as
"decadent," some reclaimed the term to invert the contemporary
value system that had thus labeled them. As one source notes, writers
of the 19th century Decadent movement began "to consider modern
Europe's elaborate culture as a degeneracy, rather than the pinnacle
of human achievement."

Beyond reclaiming "the decadent," we would like to investigate how
something comes to be labeled as such. What motivates and sustains
the construction of "decadence?"

We propose that decadence is predicated upon the presence of a
boundary (cultural, historical, aesthetic, etc.) that can be exceeded
or eroded. Whether or not it is sanctioned, decadence is underpinned
by a fundamental operation of transgression.

How are the transgressions of decadence relevant to the political
analyses of culture (material, visual, mass, and high), history
(capital, class, identity, and dialectics), and aesthetics (taste and

Submissions may explore, but are not limited to, some of the
following topics and keywords:


What effect does decadence have on the boundaries between art, life,
politics, etc. within (or across) the public and private spheres?
Is the visual culture of capitalism inherently decadent?
Should we disengage Decadence from its 19th century connotations or
is it necessarily informed by them?
What are the valences of decadence across Modernist cultural
production (e.g. Adorno's critique of mass culture or Greenberg's
critique of kitsch)?


How do cultures of (over)consumption relate to the international
exertion of power and influence?
How does decadence construct and police the boundaries of class
through taste and morality?
If decadence implies a value judgment, what is its effect upon the
construction and interpretation of identities?
How does "decadence" as a theoretical construct facilitate
historical narratives of advance and decline?


What are the political stakes of a decadent sensuality or synaesthesia?
What is the relationship between decadence and "decay" (figured as
the obscure, arcane, outmoded, obsolete)?
How does decadence construct and police the boundaries of Art through
taste and morality? Alternatively, how does decadence police the
boundaries of morality through Art?
How does decadence function in contemporary art (in shows such as
Ecstasy: In and About Altered States, in the "return" of craft, in
the form of the wunderkammer)?

.addiction; debauchery; indulgence; intoxication
.aesthetics of violence; exploitation; punishment
.boundaries; liminality; territory; transgressions
.Carnivale; Degenerate Art
.decline; erosion
.Empire (Ancient Rome; La Belle =C9poque)
.excess; surplus
.exotic; grotesque; the Other; stigma
.fetish; perversion
.jouissance; pain; pleasure; playfulness; sensuality
.the sacred; the profane; profanity
.the sublime

PLEASE SUBMIT 300 word abstracts along with your name, institution,
email address, phone number, and C.V. to
by December 1, 2006.


UCI Ph.D. Program in Visual Studies

              From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
                         Full Information at
         or write Jennifer Higginbotham:
Received on Fri Nov 10 2006 - 18:14:24 EST

cfp categories: