[UPDATE] Nomenclature - University of Maryland - March 5-6, 2010 - DEADLINE EXTENDED
DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JANUARY 2, 2010
Keynote Speakers: KavitavDaiya (George Washington University) and Tita Chico (University of Maryland)
The Graduate English Organization of the University of Maryland's Department of English invites students
at Washington, D.C. area universities to submit abstracts for our third annual interdisciplinary graduate conference. "Nomenclature" seeks to interrogate the causes, conventions, and consequences of the human impulse to name, label, and categorize.
The practice of naming and labeling influences, for better or worse, how we formulate identities
and regulate taxonomies. According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, marking difference among groups dates back to Adam's God-given power and responsibility to name and classify "every living creature" (Gen. 2:19). The early modern period saw the naming of an entire land mass—the New World—and Shakespeare himself has given us that time-worn question, "What's in a name?" More recently, the
remapping of national boundaries following decolonization has called into question the strict demarcation of peoples and places.
What we choose to name an individual, group, or phenomenon constitutes our own identities in relationship to people and things outside of ourselves. But what we choose not to call someone or something is equally significant. At Harvard University, for instance, the administration's official policy mandates that "cutbacks" be referred to as "the reallocation of funds." Here, at the University of Maryland, statements insist that budget problems are being addressed through "furloughs" rather than "pay cuts." While we might characterize these policies as careful
and prudent advertising, the phenomenon of re-naming for the sake of palatability is not new to our time. In literature departments, scholars regularly reconsider how we refer to certain fields of study.
For example, the term "post-colonialism" has given way to "oceanic" and "hemispheric" studies in order to more accurately capture the
reciprocal relationships among countries and people.
Heidegger suggests that language is "the house of being," that humans require language to "dwell"
and "create." More obliquely, Lao-tsu reminds us that "the name that can be named is not the eternal Name." If we cannot escape the inclination to name, is it possible to operate within academia and the world at large with endless possibilities for taxonomy? Must common terms for discussion be reached? How have our taxonomies been re-oriented by the recognition of categories as artificial and
accidental rather than innate and essential?
The conference committee invites proposals for fifteen-minute papers addressing the conference theme
from a broad range of disciplines and theoretical backgrounds. Presentations of creative work are also welcome. Panel submissions (3-4 participants)
are highly encouraged. Please limit abstracts for fifteen-minute papers to 300 words for individual abstracts and 500 words for panel abstracts. Full papers may accompany abstracts. Please include three
keywords at the end of the abstract to assist panel formation.