UPDATE: Synthetics (grad) (3/5/07; 5/4/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Nathan Brown
contact email: 

New keynote speakers have been added:
The 18th Annual Southland Graduate Student Conference
UCLA Department of English
Friday, 4 May 2007

N. Katherine Hayles, John Charles Hillis Professor of Literature and
Design|Media Arts, UCLA
Ali Behdad, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, UCLA

What does it mean to invoke the category of "the synthetic" today?

The term "synthetic" activates a connotative field that includes logical
operations, grammatical structures, technoscientific procedures, and
concrete materials. It is a fundamental (through frequently misrepresented)
concept in the development of modern critical theory since Kant and
dialectical thought since Hegel. It is directly or indirectly at issue in
contemporary debates concerning globalization, hybridity, and
cross-culturality. It might allude to the formal properties of aesthetic
artifacts, the chemical constitution of fabricated materials, or the
dynamics of media convergence. In its broadest application, "synthetic"
might refer to any combinatory or "artificial" phenomenon.

The heterogeneous referential field opened by the term "synthetic" is made
even more complex by its fraught ideological value. While the aspirations
of Enlightenment philosophy with which it is frequently associated have been
subjected to withering criticisms by thinkers of radical difference, the
synthetic nonetheless retains a certain promise for contemporary thought
insofar as it offers conceptual resources by which to resist rhetorics of
the natural, the originary, and the proper.

Graduate students are invited to submit papers and/or panels addressing the
manner in which "synthetics" are at stake in literature, philosophy,
material cultural studies, postcolonial studies, identity politics, and
media/technology theory.

Abstracts for 20-minute papers and panel proposals are due by Monday, 5
March 2007. Please paste the abstract (200-300 words) or panel proposal
into the body of an e-mail message and submit to <uclasouthland_at_yahoo.com>.
Panels should consist of three papers and may include a respondent. Include
your name(s), contact information, department(s), and institution(s).
Prospective conference participants will be notified by Monday March 12.

Southland Conference
c/o Nathan Brown, Kate Marshall, and Ian Newman
Department of English
149 Humanities Building
Box 951530
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1530

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Received on Mon Mar 05 2007 - 14:01:49 EST