CFP: [Cultural-Historical] Literature, Art and Culture in an Age of Global Risk

full name / name of organization: 
Dr Paul Crosthwaite

CALL FOR PAPERS: Literature, Art and Culture in an Age of Global Risk

An International, Interdisciplinary Conference

Cardiff University, UK
Thursday 2â€"Friday 3 July 2009

Keynote Speakers:
Prof. Imre Szemán (McMaster University, Canada)
Dr Charlie Gere (Lancaster University, UK)

What are the cultural implications of living under conditions of global,
manufactured risk?

In the twentieth century, the possibility arose for the first time that a
crisis of planetary proportions might result from human activities. By the
early decades of the century, global economic and financial interdependence
was such that a crisis unfolding in one location could radiate outwards to
destabilize the entire socio-economic world-system. Through the twentieth
century and into the twenty-first, the risk of pandemic upheaval has been
heightened by an array of phenomena: the expansion and acceleration of
media and telecommunications networks; the integration of financial markets
and the instantaneous ramification of market fluctuations via programme
trading; nuclear proliferation; international terrorism; rapid population
growth; unsustainable consumption of natural resources; overload of
electricity grids, leading to cascading power failures; pollution of the
ecosphere and resulting climate change; computer viruses and
“cyber-warfare”; genetic engineering; cloning; nanotechnology; artificial
intelligence; bioweaponry; the emergence and rapid spread of new strains of
infectious disease; and the development of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Scholars speak of “systemic risk” (Anthony Giddens), “simultaneous crisis
formation” (David Harvey), a “general disaster” (Brian Massumi), “worst
imaginable accidents” (Ulrich Beck), “total risk of catastrophe” (François
Ewald), “global” or “integral” accidents (Paul Virilio), “global
catastrophic risks” (Nick Bostrom and Milan Ćirković), and “modernist
events” â€" “events which not only could not possibly have occurred before
the twentieth century but the nature, scope, and implications of which no
prior age could even have imagined” (Hayden White).

Such occurrences hover indeterminably somewhere between the possible, the
probable, and the inevitable. This conference will explore how writers,
artists, filmmakers, dramatists, philosophers, and critical and cultural
theorists have responded to the prospect and reality of global crisis.
Moreover, it will ask how the methodologies of textual and cultural
criticism might offer new insights into our age of global risk.

Topics might include, but are by no means limited to:

-Notions of futurity, messianism, and the à venir (“to come”)
-Modernism and the first era of globalization
-Figurations of the contemporary, postmodern, or technological sublime
-The alteration and/or realization of textual meanings in the wake of
catastrophic events
-Connections between conditions of global risk and the aesthetic or
intellectual ‘risks’ taken by experimental artists and thinkers
-Disaster films
-Ecocriticism and climate change
-Future ruins
-The fate of the archive
-“Nuclear Criticism” and its possible revival post-9/11
-(Post-)apocalyptic visions
-Cyberculture and utopian/dystopian futures
-The cultural implications of Kondratiev waves and world-systems theory

Please send 250-word abstracts for 20-minute papers to the organizer, Dr
Paul Crosthwaite, at by Monday 22 December 2008.
Proposals for three-person panels are also welcome; please send a brief
description of the panel along with abstracts for the individual papers.

Updates will appear on the conference web site:

Dr Paul Crosthwaite
Lecturer in English Literature
School of English, Communication, and Philosophy
Cardiff University

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Received on Fri Sep 12 2008 - 04:15:30 EDT