GRIDLOCK, October 14-15, 2011

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Department of Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies, Stony Brook University | Hosted at the AC Institute, New York, NY
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For our 2nd Annual Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies Graduate Conference, we invite submissions that explore the possibilities of Gridlock.

Keynote: Eugene Thacker, Associate Professor of Media Studies, The New School

Conventionally, gridlock defines a blockage in a traffic network, but the term has been broadly applied to any system breakdown resulting from conflicts between opinions, agendas, bodies, technologies, and other social forces. An analysis of gridlock may be literal, such as considering how traffic networks and urban planning shape our experience of travel, moment and space, or how cities and towns solve problems of gridlock. Similarly, gridlock can also occur in both the form and content of textual and material artifacts, and is often typified by stagnation, immobility, no-win situations, spinning one's wheels, and zero-sum games. In the recent 2010 U.S. elections, we witnessed gridlock manifest as the primary agenda between embittered political parties. Gridlock is problematically appealing, as it refuses linear notions of "progress" by stopping the machinery of the system altogether.

Beyond these textual and political examples, the grid has long served as formative device in art, architecture and graphic design. The grid has been challenged by deconstructive and post-modernist aesthetic practices, there have been returns, re-examinations and re-appropriations of grids, pixels and their underlying architectures in both art history and art practice. How might considering the use, re-use and breakdown of the grid as both a literal experience and a metaphoric relation enhance our sensitivity to these histories, aesthetics and experiences?

Possible topics and fields of study relevant to this conference include:

* literary themes of opposition, stagnation, conflict and resistant, etc.
* philosophical concepts of oppositionality, politics, space, etc.
* automotive, utilities, urban development histories
* cartography, geography, global positioning systems
* urban planning, sustainable transportation researchers, traffic analysis
* the grid in art history, design, and architecture, pixelation
* ethnographic and anthropological studies of "gridlocked" groups (be they drivers, voters, etc.)
* software, hardware and platform studies

Submission and acceptance to the conference is based on blind peer review of a 250-300 word abstract. Panels and non-traditional presentations will also be considered. Graduate students interested in submitting should email an abstract, paper title, 2-3 sentence bio, affiliation and contact information to by June 20th. Presenters will be informed by July 15.

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