The 16th Annual Conference of the Marxist Reading Group: “Art in Interesting Times”

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University of Florida Marxist Reading Group
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The 16th Annual Conference of the Marxist Reading Group
“Art in Interesting Times”
Keynote Speakers: Nicholas Brown, Fredric Jameson, and Kim Stanley Robinson
27-29 March 2014 at the University of Florida
Submission Deadline: 10 January 2014

As Mathias Nilges and Emilio Sauri argue in their recent collection Literary Materialisms (2013), art, in general, and literature and literary study, in particular, is experiencing a moment of severe crisis. They situate this crisis within the larger apocalyptic turn that comes with, in the words of Slavoj Žižek, living in the end times. Some take this crisis as an opportunity to retreat into traditional practices of aesthetic appreciation. However, Žižek alternately calls these end times “interesting times," less a moment of closure than a confluence of new possibilities. We contend that to make and study art in interesting times requires a fundamental rethinking of the relations between cultural production and politics. Thus, this conference proposes that we move toward a fuller understanding of the material consequences of cultural production and how cultural production might respond to, rather than retreat from, crisis.

The MRG invites scholars to join us in rethinking the intersections between politics and art. We would like to clarify and explore questions such as: How can art help us imagine a postcapitalist future? How does art register or reflect social struggle, and how can art help us think totality in the timespace of full globalization? How can art be more than a commodity under the conditions of postmodernity? How can we read structures of feeling in art work? How can different aesthetic forms be periodized within different historical moments? In the current context of the crisis of the university, what are the stakes of abandoning political engagement in art? How do narrative and non-narrative forms work as strategies for reflecting, engaging, and thinking beyond capitalism?

Fredric Jameson is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University. His many books include Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, The Modernist Papers, Archaeologies of the Future, Valences of the Dialectic, The Hegel Variations, Representing Capital, and most recently The Antinomies of Realism.

Kim Stanley Robinson is a Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning science fiction author whose books include the The Mars Trilogy, The Three Californias Trilogy, The Years of Rice and Salt, The Science in the Capital Trilogy, 2312, and Shaman. He is also the author of The Novels of Philip K Dick.

Nicholas Brown is Associate Professor in the Departments of English and African American Studies at University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of Utopian Generations: The Political Horizon of Twentieth-Century Literature.

Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Intersections of aesthetics and politics
The gendered politics of art
Political commitment in postmodernity
Artistic representations of politics, economics, and crisis
The crisis of the humanities
Politics of the affective turn
Globalization and art
Nostalgia v. futurity
Periodizing such aesthetic and political movements as realism, modernism, etc.
Postcolonial and transnational aesthetic forms
Posthumanist conceptions of art
Art and Identity

Please submit a 250-word abstract with 3-5 keywords for a 20-minute presentation along with contact information to by 10 January 2014. Please indicate any a/v requests (data projection and DVD player available). Authors of accepted papers will be notified by 3 February 2014. For questions concerning the conference, please contact us at For more information, visit our website:

cfp categories: 
modernist studies