CFP: Embodying Theory, Theorizing Embodiment - Graduate Student Conference May 28-29, UC Santa Cruz

full name / name of organization: 
UC Santa Cruz Bodies and Embodiment Research Cluster


Keynote speaker: Professor Jennifer Doyle, UC Riverside.

Over the last twenty years, 'the body' has become an important field of study, generating a critical turn towards bodily practices and representations in a multitude of disciplines, including, but not limited to: critical theory, feminist studies, visual culture, literature, philosophy, film studies, performance studies, political theory, and media studies. In recognizing the body as a material, signifying, experienced and experiencing entity, these fields have collectively striven to avoid the tendency to overly generalize 'theory' and to change the understanding of it as that which is abstracted from our experiences of the worlds around and within us. Yet this tendency subsists and 'theory' continues to be understood as 'thought,' which still carries its Cartesian legacy of belonging to the disembodied mind.

How does maintaining attention to the terms of 'embodiment' affect the important conversations concerning what theory is and does? In other words, how does working to integrate bodies and embodiment in what we consider 'thinking' move us to theorize differently? Much work in this vein has been informed by the outstanding oeuvre of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and while embracing his influence, we want to push further and ask if there are other ways in to the study of bodies and embodiment. With the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Sara Ahmed, Sianne Ngai, Jay Prosser, Laura Marks, and John Mowitt, amongst others, we see critical practices of sense-making arise that include tactility, affective knowledge, the importance of skin, aural pleasure, and 'ugly feelings.' Here are eyes that feel and ears that sense, working with and going beyond the haptic (and definitely beyond the scopophilic) to embrace a way of theorizing that interfaces with our embodied senses radically differently from earlier models of simply 'studying the body.' We aim to uncover how a new generation of scholars is utilizing established work on 'the body' while recognizing the potential in working more closely with 'embodiment.'

We welcome submissions that explore new ways of 'doing/embodying theory differently.' We recognize that much work on this is being done at the intersections and intertwinings of artistic practices and creative thinking, and so we are open to abstracts of both critical and creative papers.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

- Affect and embodiment
- Cinema and new types of embodied spectatorship
- Bodies, embodiment and contemporary medicine
- How urban production of space shapes our embodied existence
- The role of able and disabled bodies in forming embodiment
- Queer embodiments
- How to think bodies and embodiment in continental and analytical philosophy, including how they challenge Cartesian thought
- Experimental and artistic expressions and interrogations of bodies and embodiment
- Embodiments of class and race
- Phenomenological accounts of bodies and embodiment
- The place of touch, skin, and the senses in relation to embodiment
- Sexed and gendered embodiments
- Embodiment and poetry
- Human and non-human embodiments, and what roles these play in determining certain bodies as 'human' and some as 'other'
- Feminist theories of embodiment
- Embodiment, ecology, and environmental interaction

We invite 300-word abstracts for 15-minute papers to be submitted by 1 March as Word document attachments to Please state how your paper addresses the conference theme, as well as what audio-visual equipment you will need.