Visual Memory: Mind, Monument, Metaphor (Proposals due Jan 6, 2012; MadLit Conference March 1-3 , 2012)

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University of Wisconsin-Madison English Graduate Student Association
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The Graduate Student Association of the University of Wisconsin-Madison English Department is pleased to invite papers for the 8th annual MadLit conference to be held March 1-3, 2012. This year's theme, "Visual Memory: Mind, Monument, Metaphor" seeks to investigate the role that vision plays in the creation, recollection, and use of memory as well as to challenge the relationship between optic experience and the visual idioms often used to describe these processes.

These relationships have been fraught at least since Aristotle's characterization of memory as a seal imprinted on the wax of the mind by sensory perception. Their instability has been highlighted recently not only by what W.J.T. Mitchell has called "the pictorial turn" in humanistic studies but also by a number of current events. The dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument in Washington, DC, for instance, has been dogged by controversy over whether the statue adequately resembles the man it commemorates and over its inscription, missing an "if" clause in its claim that "[King] is a drum major for justice," which poet Maya Angelou has claimed wrongly characterizes the man as arrogant. Though all visitors to the site will have ostensibly similar sensory experiences, representational power of the experience itself is unfixed; though the visual is intended to act as a "repository" for memory, it is also contingent upon the memories of those who encounter it. The visual also conversely takes an active role in shaping the memories of those encounterers and participates in the way that memory gets invoked for political, cultural, or personal ends.

The interplay between the visual and the memorial of course has ramifications for literary production (Why do visual metaphors for memory and writing persist? Why does Shakespeare seem relieved that his handsome youth and his poetry will enjoy longevity "so long as…eyes can see"?) However, these considerations demand engagement with other fields of inquiry: art, linguistics, neuroscience, media studies, politics.

We are currently soliciting proposals for 15-20 minute paper presentations and 3-person panels on any aspect of the relationship between visualization and memory. Proposals for non-traditional presentation formats are also welcome. We particularly encourage submissions from those whose work makes use of interdisciplinary perspectives to speak to multiple fields. Possible considerations include:

-What is the role of perception systems in the recall of memory?
-What is the relationship between language comprehension and visual experience?
-How do maps act as memory-makers?
-How do memorials act as sites of conflict or contestation?
-How do memory and/or memorials challenge ideas of the "post-human" and vice versa?
-How does the archive act as "prosthetic" memory? How is it denotative vs. connotative?
-How and why does the media manipulate memory?
-What is the relationship between longevity and "imaging" or iconography?
-What is the role of ekphrasis in the making of history?
-What is the relationship between seeing and knowing? Between visuality and literacy?

The conference will feature two keynote addresses by speakers TBA.

Please submit a 250-word abstract to the Graduate Student Association at by January 6, 2012. Accepted papers will be notified by January 13. In your proposal, please indicate any A/V requirements.