Turning on Rights: Politics, Performance, and the Text April 16-17, 2010 University at Albany Keynote Speaker: Joseph Slaughter
"We must more than ever stand on the side of human rights. We need human rights. We are in need of them and they are in need, for there is always a lack, a shortfall, a falling short, an insufficiency; human rights are never sufficient." (Jacques Derrida, Philosophy in a Time of Terror)
If human rights are insufficient yet necessary, we must then ask what to do with "rights." This conference will explore historical and theoretical definitions, constructions, and performative notions of rights. How do texts challenge predominant conceptual narratives of rights? In what ways does literature explore notions of rights outside of the juridical realm? Can we have a discourse on rights that exceeds the anthropomorphic field?
In wide ranging disciplines, rights of the subject and to the objective world are both historically grounded and contemporarily debated. If discourses of all varieties are also textual sites, then the places where rights are manifested (technology, culture, art and literature, science, law, and ontology) must be read and ultimately performed.
As the focus of our 8th annual Graduate Student Conference, the English Graduate Student Organization at the University at Albany seeks both critical and creative projects that further this discussion. Our keynote speaker will be Joseph Slaughter, associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia and author of Human Rights, Inc.: The World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law. The Friday evening event will commence with a creative performance, featuring a poet TBA. We encourage submissions from graduate students working in any field, historical period, or scholarly discipline. We also solicit creative submissions for inclusion in the Friday evening performance. Critical abstracts should be limited to 250-300 words; creative abstracts should include a 300 word or less description and a 3 page sample. Submit abstracts to: firstname.lastname@example.org by February 14, 2009.
Possible areas of inquiry may include, but are not limited to:
• Animal and Other Alterities
• Violence, Trauma, and Testimony
• Sovereignty, Exemplarity, and Exception
• Environmental, Agricultural, and Terrestrial Rights
• Witnessing vs. Performing Rights
• Authorship, Readership, Agency
• Global vs. National Rights
• Unwritten, Inalienable Rights
• Definitions of Freedom
• Sexual and Reproductive Rights
• Corporate and Commercial Rights,
• Information, Technology, and Copyright
• Rights and the Demarcations of the Body
• Rights in the Realm of the Post-Human and Virtual