Framing the Human: (De)humanization in Language Literature and Culture - March 6, 2010
Debates around how "the human" is defined, interrogated and regulated often delineate boundaries that separate the human and its others (e.g. the animal, the divine, the monstrous). Far from being abstract exercises in taxonomy, assessments of these boundaries impose ways of knowing, reading and seeing. Political, ideological, scientific, religious and economic regimes participate in framing the human. Determining who or what counts as human under these regimes has profound consequences. For example, one can be biologically but not politically human (e.g. undocumented workers). One's political "human-ness" can be stripped away or called into question after certain violations of the law (e.g. enemy combatants). Recent genealogies of gender, race and ethnicity remind us to what extent our "humanity" is precarious and contingent upon culturally coherent frames that not only produce the (in)human but reflexively legitimate that production. Definitions of the human are not fixed temporally or qualitatively but rather shaped by various lenses, filters and paradigms. This symposium will consider objects of literary, linguistic and/or cultural study, which engage with frames that produce, perform, disqualify, marginalize, or maintain and (re)appropriate conceptions of the human.
We encourage submissions from a wide variety of fields including (but not limited to): literature, art history, linguistics, music, theater arts, history, political science, philosophy, medicine, disability, gender and women's studies, religious studies, anthropology, geography, sociology, American studies, African Diaspora studies and cultural studies.
Please send an abstract of up to 300 words in anticipation of a 15-20 minute presentation in English to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 31, 2009. Proposals for panels are also welcome.