"Considering Relevance" -- SUNY Albany 11th Annual English 2013 Graduate Conference, March 8-9, 2013

full name / name of organization: 
SUNY Albany English Graduate Student Organization
contact email: 
egsoalbany@gmail.com

SUNY Albany 11th Annual English 2013 Graduate Conference: Considering Relevance
March 8-9, 2013 – http://egsoalbany.weebly.com/

When we are confronted with questions of “relevance,” we often make quick evaluations about the timeliness of a particular mode of thought or approach as it relates to the work we do today. Concepts of relevance not only play a major role in the way we conceive of and practice academic inquiry but also function as wider and more fundamental elements of political, ethical, and historical discourse beyond academic and institutional venues. While the increasing specializations of disciplines encourage us to consider relevance as already evident, this conference invites participants to think of relevance as a normative and historically determined concept. Changes in relation to crises and contradictions are often seen as occurring beyond the accepted boundaries of relevance as a particular field of study has constructed them. This conference invites scholars and students to explore this—often unstated—relation between crisis and relevance with an eye to further defining and extending the current interdisciplinary trend in the humanities and social sciences. We aim to encourage an open articulation and theorization of the notion of relevance that is both imaginatively and historically informed and that self-consciously accounts for its own relevance inside and outside the current fields of academic inquiry and artistic production.

Multiple crises relating to education, economy, ecology, and the political climate, among others, press us to consider the role that conceptions of relevance—new and old—play inside and outside of our academic communities. With these particular crises in mind, we hope to build on previous theories which allow us to examine, critique, and recognize the stated and unstated constructions of relevance as having both a history and a (precarious) future. We hope, by bringing together the threads of this conversation, to outline the historical and intellectual conditions required for a realization or articulation of new conceptions of relevance. Therefore, this conference aims to increase interdisciplinary collaboration and speak to broader crises and concerns in the world at large. We envision a collective rethinking of the notion of relevance and its connection to crisis in direct relation to the work we do. We are specifically interested in presenters and scholars who invest in the stakes and crises surrounding their work and its larger impact in professional and public discourses. In this way, this conference is a step in trying to assert the relevance of relevance itself as a normative category that continually establishes grounds for the work we do as both scholars and citizens.

For our 11th Annual Conference, we invite graduate students of any discipline to consider the applications and effects of relevance. We schedule approximately 15 to 20 minutes for each presentation. For research or critical presentations, please submit a 250-word abstract to egsoalbany@gmail.com by January 18, 2013.

We are also seeking graduate student artists to submit proposals. The conference will offer an opportunity for presentations from creative writers, visual artists, performers, audio/video or digital artists, and any students actively engaged in other creative media, which would ideally include discussion about how your work deals with issues of relevance. We schedule approximately 15 to 20 minutes for each presentation. Please send an e-mail with a small sample of your creative work (.mp3, .jpeg, .tif, .avi, .mp4, or .doc files) as well as a 250-word description of your presentation to egsoalbany@gmail.com by January 18, 2013. Video projectors, computers, speakers, and other technologies can be arranged to supplement presentations.

Possible considerations might include:

• Body, Sexuality, and Gender: changing notions of normalcy and deviance
• Image and Text: visual representation, changing nature of advertising
• Reading, Writing, and Teaching Practices: texts read and written in and outside the university classroom, pedagogical concerns
• Critical Methodologies and Specialization: academic jargon and mainstream language
• Canon and Value: dictating high literary value or "truth"
• Creative Arts: art in culture and academia, marginalizations, categorizations and genre
• Art Markets: commodification of art, institutionalization of creative art, the “Program” era
• Theory and Relevance: frames and the identification of importance
• Scientific Relevance: paradigms and scientific crises; science il/literacy and its accessibility to the public; public, private, and government
• Technology: history and practice
• Interdisciplinarity: finding legitimacy elsewhere, corporate model of the university
• Eco-relevance and Environmentalism: global warming and its effects, shifting conceptions of the natural, humanity’s relevance to its ecosystem
• Geography and Borders: art crossing borders, uneven development, spatial negotiations

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