CfP: Beyond the Cut-Up: William S. Burroughs and the Image

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The Photographers' Gallery
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The Photographers' Gallery, London, Saturday 15 February 2014

Confirmed plenary speakers:
Professor Oliver Harris (Keele University)
Professor Allen Fisher (Manchester Metropolitan University)

William S. Burroughs's complex and provocative uses of the image challenge critical and theoretical orthodoxies. His works in writing, visual arts, cut-up and collage, painting, assemblage, photography, and in sonic arts, constantly return in multiple ways to a detailed and politically urgent enquiry into the nature and effects of the image, the word-as-image, and beyond.

Critical work on Burroughs's art has hitherto focused mainly on his uses of cut-up techniques. However, his works offer very diverse responses to the multiple political and emotional functions of images in relation to modern and postmodern societies of control, and enable explorations of the status and potentials of the artist as agent within these contexts. These themes are insistent Burroughsian concerns.

This conference will explore new theoretical interventions and accounts of Burroughs's ideas of the image, its effects and modes of operation, its impact on human consciousness, its complex embedding within textual and other fields, its psychological and ideological transformations of perception.

Papers are invited that explore themes 'beyond the cut-up', including, but not restricted to:

- Burroughs's theories of the image
- Contextualising and theorizing Burroughs's various uses of images
- His use of different images in a variety of creative / destructive contexts
- Permutations, intersections, interzones of the image
- Burroughs as image: composing and decomposing autopictoriality
- Recent theories of the image (eg Ranciere, Nancy, Laruelle, Flusser) and their potentials for understanding Burroughs's works
- Burroughs's uses of the image considered in relation to image-theories and works of his contemporaries – eg Gysin, Ginsberg, Ballard, McLuhan, Baudrillard
- Legacies in contemporary art, literature, photography, and film of Burroughs's theories of and uses of the image.

Proposals are invited for 20-minute presentations addressing these or other pertinent aspects of Burroughs's art. This conference is being held at The Photographers' Gallery during the exhibition Taking Shots: The Photography of William S Burroughs, January – April 2014.

Conference organisers: Dr Patricia Allmer and Dr John Sears (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Please send proposals (250 words max) by 1 July 2013 to the conference co-ordinator, Cheryl Platt:

For further information, please visit:

Please note: The Photographers' Gallery is a not-for-profit organisation and cannot assist with conference travel or subsistence.