CFP: [Cultural-Historical] Cultural Studies Assocation Conference Seminar: Risk

full name / name of organization: 
Helen Kapstein
contact email:

Taking Risks in Literature and Culture

A seminar proposed for the upcoming Cultural Studies Association conference, May 22-24 2008,
New York City

Deadline: January 20, 2008

Seminar Description:

In his 1992 book Risk Society, Ulrich Beck describes a society organized by
its response to risk in which “risk may be defined as a systematic way of
dealing with hazards and insecurities induced and introduced by
modernization itself.”

We are now accepting proposals for a seminar on risk, a concept most often
associated with sociological studies of risk cultures, actuarial risk
assessment, and economic studies of risk-taking and –sharing, but here
enlarged to apply to literary and cultural representations of and
experiments with risk. Risk-taking might be approached from the perspective
of a specific field of inquiry such as public policy, psychology, medicine,
or finance, or from a theoretical angle such as danger, threat, uncertainty,
or challenge. The goal of this seminar is to use the concept of risk to
probe the seam between literature and culture and to take our own risks in
the uses and definitions of these theories and categories.

Seminar Requirements:

To apply for this seminar, the prospective participant should submit a
proposal (in the format of his/her choice) describing the research project
that brings them to the question of risk. Include contact information with
email address and a brief bio. Email submissions preferred.

Once accepted for the seminar, participants will be asked to read Mary
Douglas’s Risk and Blame (Routledge, 1994), Ulrich Beck’s Risk Society
(Sage, 1992), or another theoretical statement on risk. They should also be
prepared to circulate abstracts of their projects to the other participants.
We will aim to move back and forth between our theoretical readings and the
research projects in order to generate a deeper knowledge of what might be
gained (and also what the risks are) in considering risk-taking for our
respective objects of critical inquiry.

Seminar Organizer:

Professor Helen Kapstein

John Jay College, CUNY
English Department
445 W 59th Street
New York, NY 10019

Seminar moderator:
Helen Kapstein is a tenured Assistant Professor of English at John Jay
College, The City University of New York. She earned her PhD in English and
Comparative Literature from Columbia University. Her areas of scholarly
interest include postcolonial and contemporary British literatures, cultural
and media studies, and southern African literature and culture. Her current
book project is entitled A New Kind of Safari: Tourism in Postcolonial
Literature and Culture and her recent publications include an article on
domestic tourism in Safundi: The Journal of South African and American
Studies (January 2007), an article on Bessie Head in Critical Essays on
Bessie Head (Praeger-Greenwood, 2003), and an article on South African
detective fiction in the journal Anthropology and Humanism (June 2003).

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Received on Wed Jan 02 2008 - 09:40:32 EST

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