[UPDATE] Obsolescence.

full name / name of organization: 
Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference
contact email: 
grad-conference@uwm.edu

The fifth annual Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference at
the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee seeks submissions for
“Obsolescence,” a graduate student conference to be held February
12-14, 2010, in conjunction with the Center for 21st Century Studies
and its research theme for 2009-2011: “Figuring Place and Time.”

This year’s theme calls upon scholars to interpret and consider
variously the notion of “obsolescence.” According to the <em>Oxford English
Dictionary Online</em>, obsolescence derives from the classical Latin
<em>obsolescere</em>: “to fall into disuse, fade away, sink into obscurity.”
Obsolescence thus presents a sense of expiration or decay, it
represents some act, object or idea that is out of its own time. In
contemporary life we hear much of technologies and their life-spans,
often in terms of the fast-capitalist invention of “planned
obsolescence.” Public life is also informed by the mainstream media’s
focus on the immediate present or future; we are perpetually asking or
being asked: <em>what’s hot?—who’s now?—what’s next?</em>

Given these observations, we are interested in exploring the
theoretical, historico-cultural and political ramifications of
identifying an act, object or idea as “obsolete.” However, we also wish
to engage the concept of “obsolescence” as an active state of being, as
a performative, as indicative of political value. We aim to engage in a
multi-day, interdisciplinary exploration of persistent tensions within
the concept of obsolescence as well as in its obverse—utility. In doing
so, we expect to question the economic, political and cultural
implications of temporality as tied to objects and media and to
interrogate the assumption that value is inherently contingent on
usability.

Submissions that explore “Obsolescence” from a diverse range of
fields and disciplines are encouraged. Possible topics include, but are
not limited to:


* Desire, Nostalgia and the Fetishization of Obsolescent Media (vinyl, Viewfinders, pre-digital cameras, typewriters, Stereo 8, the retro gaming movement )
* Storage and Transmission of the Past (packrats and hoarders, archives, museums, cemeteries)
* Discourses of Marketing: the new and improved, the upgrade
* Obsolescence and Fashion, Style, Mode
* Cultural Panic and Obsolescence: Y2K, Digital Amnesia, Future Shock, the Digital Dark Age, “Digital Natives”
* Planned Obsolescence and Disruptive Technologies
* Transitional Places and Non-Places (airports, dead malls, junkyards, antique stores, the Atari Landfill)
* The “post” label (concepts of a post-racial America, post-modernism, post-gay, post-feminism, post-colonialism)
* Traditionalist Notions, Practices, and Spaces of Academic Study; the Tenure-Track academic
* Aesthetics and Un-useful Objects (knick-knacks, bric-a-brac, novelty stores, gift shops)
* Obsolescence and Ecology, Extinction and Conservation

This year’s keynote address will be presented by Matt Coolidge, founder and director of the Center for Land Use Interpretation.


Please submit a 250 word abstract, with title, for a 15-20 minute
presentation as an MS Word file attachment (.doc or .docx) to:
grad-conference@uwm.edu. Panel proposals for 75 minute sessions will
also be considered (comprised of three presentations); please submit an
abstract for each presenter and indicate that you are proposing a
panel. Deadline for Submissions: October 15, 2009

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