Renewing/Reknowing the Body

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Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies Students Association
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In Precarious Life, Judith Butler writes that "[t]he body implies mortality, vulnerability, agency; the skin and the flesh expose us to the gaze of others, but also to touch, and to violence, and bodies put us at risk of becoming the agency and instrument of all these as well" (26). While Butler's analysis of the body and its potentialities emerges from considerations of life and its uncertain value, recent scholarship on the body reveals that it is a politically charged space where seemingly fixed concepts of identity, ethics, and ability destabilize from normative discourses. As such, the conference, under the theme of Renewing/Reknowing, will consider ongoing conversations of bodily materiality, agency, and how we respond and/or are called upon to respond to the bodies of others. More specifically, the conference seeks to explore ideas regarding the body and its agency to call into question and expand our current understandings of responsibility, or response-ability, towards others. Our intention is not to reinforce conventional or normative constructions of the body or 'able-body'; rather, we wish to reflect on the body as a densely packed space for thinking about and appreciating inter-human and inter-species relationships, agency and vulnerability.

The Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Association, on behalf of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, invites graduate and upper level undergraduate students to submit short abstracts (250-300 words) for presentations that engage with these issues and related issues from a range of theoretical and disciplinary approaches. Presentations may choose to address the following questions:

1. What does it mean to be a responsible, or response/able, body?
2. How do we understand the body as a figure that produces knowledge, and is itself a figure produced through contextually specific knowledge? What are our responsibilities, or response/abilities, towards others, including nonhuman animals?
3. How can the body, and associated ideas about its agency and vulnerability, be utilized as a conceptual tool for thinking about the moral status of others, including racialized, feminized, and animalized others?
4. How can the body, as a source of pain, pleasure and shared experience, perform as a medium for deconstructing mind/body dualisms?
5. How does the body present challenges to normative and restrictive understandings of identity, ethics, and ability?

In keeping with the spirit of interdisciplinarity that such questions require, we welcome creative and critical presentations from all disciplines, including papers, performances, and artistic projects Please send your short abstract as an email attachment to or by February 15 2013. Include with this abstract a brief cover letter that includes your name and contact information. All files must be in .pdf, .rtf., .doc, or .docx format. We also welcome proposals for non-paper based presentations (poster, performance, or other artistic work).