New Directions in Critical Theory Graduate Conference 2013: “Uncovering the Sublime: The Infinite, the Material, and the Beyond”

full name / name of organization: 
University of Arizona: Department of English
contact email: 
newdirectionsconference@gmail.com

Friday, April 5--Saturday, April 6
University of Arizona

The Sublime—the “beyond,” the moment when the ability to know, to express a thought or sensation is defeated—has been labeled as “indescribable,” yet, as Philip Shaw points out, the Sublime has been “debated for centuries amongst writers, artists, philosophers and theorists,” and it remains a “complex yet crucial concept” that stretches across many disciplines. From the awe-inspiring landscapes of the southwest as articulated by writers like Terry Tempest Williams and Edward Abbey, to the infinitely reproduced image of prophecies represented in the Ministry of Magic scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the endless hall of drawers that Sam Bell discovers in the film Moon, to the untapped potential of HAL 9000, the supercomputer capable of billions of computations per second, the Sublime leaves us with a sense of unease in confronting boundless possibilities. The Sublime can be “a building or a mountain,” or “a thought, a heroic deed, or a mode of expression . . . a state of mind.” It is the moment when fear and beauty become indistinguishable. At the same time that the Sublime teases us to negate our notions of physical reality, it draws us ever closer to “our actual material limits.” Yet a definition falls short of words. The Sublime escapes us, frustrating the distinction between cause and effect.

Broadly reaching across disciplinary boundaries, this conference accepts submissions from both national and international scholars at all levels with contributions from fields such as rhetoric & composition, history, literature, linguistics, philosophy, science studies, theories of technology, theories of place, environmental and sustainability studies, feminist, gender and queer theory, critical theory, as well as comparative global studies, pop-culture and media studies, cultural geography, and more.

A list of possible concerns that may engage the Sublime in direct or indirect ways include, but are not limited to:

• In the constantly changing face of academia, what is considered sublime in specific academic disciplines? How are current inter-, cross-, trans-disciplinary work sublime?
• What is the sublime in thinking about social and global problems? In transcendentalist notions of nature and ecology? In resistance to hegemonic notions of being and place? In gender identifications and representations? And what can we do to overcome the sublime as such?
• What are some manifestations in popular culture and media such as advertising, digital and online spaces, or (post)apocalyptic, fantasy, and superhero narratives?
• What are notions of the sublime as related to technology, computation, virtual reality, game studies, and formations of the post-human?

We welcome submissions in any of the following formats:
• academic papers to be presented individually or as a panel;
• research descriptions or findings;
• creative works to be displayed or performed;
• other non-conventional and experimental presentation formats that engage the audience in new ways of meaning-making.

Please send 200-word abstracts of an individual work or 500-word group/panel descriptions as a .doc, .docx, .pdf, or .rtf file to newdirectionsconference@gmail.com by Friday, Febuary 11, 2013.

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