Postmodern Madness & The Reconstruction of Subjectivities, 1st International Symposium (Angers, France: Thursday 4th to Saturday

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Alejandro Cervantes-Carson, General Coordinator, International Network for Alternative Academia
contact email:

International Network for Alternative Academia - Extends a general invitation to participate

1st International Symposium: Postmodern Madness and The Reconstruction of Subjectivities

Part of the Research Program on: Space, Time and New Technologies of the Self

Thursday 4th to Saturday 6th of September, 2014

Angers, Pays-de-la-Loire, France

Partner: Université Catholique de l’Ouest
Venue: IPLV, UCO (3 Place André Leroy)
Main Campus (Building: Bâtiment Scientifique)


Call for Papers

(Abstract Submission Period Opened: Monday 3rd of March, 2014)
(Abstract Deadline: Monday 31st of July, 2014)

This trans-disciplinary research project is interested in exploring the links between madness, subjectivity, and postmodern narratives. Or, from a different angle, we seek to investigate the ways postmodern discourses encompass ideals of madness in relation to the construction of subjectivity. Schizophrenia, paranoia, perversion, deviation are often called upon and incorporated in the construction of the postmodern subject. How are these terms used to construct subjectivities in cultures in which anxiety, unreason, and disorder are the norm? How is meaning refashioned to pass from 'clinical abnormality' to forms of social 'normality'? How is this concept employed in constructing the postmodern subject in literature, movies, music, photography, painting, and other forms of art?

The project tries to examine the concept of madness considering how it is linked to expressions of the self in postmodern discourses. Considering its relationship to deviance, difference and discourse, it explores how madness both shapes and is shaped by postmodern narratives and cultural framing.

We invite colleagues from all disciplines and professions interested in exploring and explaining these issues in a collective, deliberative and dialogical environment to send presentation proposals that address these general questions or the following themes:

1. Madness, Culture and Crisis

- How is madness defined by and through contemporary culture?
- While medicalization has been a pervasive process in the past two centuries, what are other shifts in the historical definition of madness that warrant investigation? How do the commercialization of illness and the legalization of culture figure in this process?
- How has mental illness been defined in relation to madness? How can we describe and understand the shifting boundaries between these concepts?
- What remains outside the scope of mental illness and medicalization?
- Should madness be conceived as a crisis or, in contradistinction, should it be considered a state of normality? Is it an expression of an abnormality or a reaction to normality? To what degree manifestations of subjectivity can be considered as deviations from normality?
- What is the relation between madness, authority and the subject? Is madness an interpretation of the anxieties of the subject in relation to authority? Is it premised on the acceptance of authority?
- Where is the line drawn between the non-conformist and the clinical cases of madness? Where do we place deviants, minorities, and eccentrics? Has their status changed over time?

2. The Discourses of Madness

- How has the linguistic shift from madness to mental illness altered our understanding of this experience? What are the benefits and weaknesses of this change in language? Do they refer to the same phenomenon or are they, in fact, different experiences?
- Is disorder of discourse constructing a new subject or is it just a sign of abnormality inscribed within an otherwise coherent subject? Is disorder constructing subjectivities at the border between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’?
-What is normal? What is abnormal? How can we account today for definitions of normality and abnormality? Does this binomial relation and dichotomy change over time? What happens when the 'normal' becomes 'abnormal'?
- How do order and disorder change, inform, and deconstruct one another? Where does the subject stand in relation to this order and conflict? How is it altered? How does it incorporate both order and disorder?
-To what extent is madness employed in constructing discourses?
- Is there a difference in the vocabulary employed when dealing with different aspects of madness? How is meaning changed when crossing from the clinical into the realm of art in general and the fictional in particular?
- What are the different connotations of describing someone as 'mad'?
- What makes a subject mad? Is there something underneath the veil of madness?

3. Representations of Madness

- What are apt metaphors for madness in contemporary culture?
- Is madness a metaphor? Is it a punishment?
- How is madness represented in and through the media, corporate culture and the arts? To what affect?
- How do contemporary models of madness construct new subjectivities? Do they generate a crisis of representation?
- Madness implies a form of disorderliness. Language imposes order. Can we speak of madness as such? What language is apt in describing the experience of madness?
- How does a 'mad sovereign' alter reality to fit his own 'madness'? What is the role of his 'subjects'? What is the role of the mad jester?
- Is madness an expression of freedom? Does madness entail a certain kind of freedom? Is a ‘mad’ subject freer than a ‘normal’ subject? What relation does it have to authority from this standpoint?

4. Madness and Coherence in Postmodern Cultures

- Can we expect coherence in/from madness? Should we have such expectations?
- If one of the defining features of postmodernism is incoherence, is ours a culture of madness?
- What is madness in relation to the world? Is it a way of interpreting the world? Does it construct new worlds apart from the ‘real’ one?
- What is the relationship between madness and imagination?
- In a culture of the particular, of the multiple, of fragmentary, does madness articulate alternative worlds that coexist rhizomatically within the subject?
- How is madness employed in the construction of the subject? How is it done from the bottom-up and as an exercise of agency? How is it done from the top-down and as an exercise of power?
- Is the madness of the subject a manifestation of the madness of the world? Does it function as a defense mechanism or as a tool of versatility?

5. Madness - Traversing Cultures

- From ancient literature to postmodern writing, madness has been a theme in constructing, interpreting and modifying worlds. How are the forms of madness in art and literature dependent of the status of the world and place madness has in the world? How does it become an expression of the world from a form of ‘abnormality’?
- What role does madness play in social groups, communities and social formations?
- What are the cultural stereotypes of madness? What is the status of the mad, of the rebel, of the disrupter of the non-conformist? Does this status change in time? Is it interpreted differently across cultures and forms of art?
- How has madness transformed from mental illness to a social expression of difference? To what extent insanity becomes in art a celebrated form of freedom, of the different, of the state of difference?
- In what ways is it censured as toxic, sick, deviant and in need of correction? What forms of madness are celebrated and what forms are feared and repressed? Why?

If you are interested in participating in this Annual Symposium, submit a 400 to 500 word abstract as soon as possible and no later than Thursday, 31st of July, 2014. (For justifiable cases, we do uphold a tolerance period of fifteen days.)

Please use the following template for your submission:
First: Author(s);
Second: Affiliation, if any;
Third: Email Address;
Fourth: Title of Abstract and Proposal;
Fifth: The 400 to 500 Word Abstract.

To submit an abstract online follow these steps:
1) Go to our webpage:
2) Select your Symposium of choice within the list of annual events (listed by period and city)
3) Go to LOG IN at the top of the page
4) Create a User Name and Password for our system and log in
5) Click on the Call for Papers for the Symposium
6) Go to the end of the Call for Papers page and click on the First Step of Submission Process button
7) Follow the instructions provided for completing the abstract submission process

For every abstract proposal submitted, we acknowledge receipt. If you do not receive a reply from us within three days, you should assume the submission process was not completed successfully. Please try again or contact our technical support for clarifications.

All presentation and paper proposals that address these questions and issues will be fully considered and evaluated. Evaluation of abstract submissions will be ongoing, from the opening date of Monday 3rd of March, 2014. All Prospective Delegates can expect a reply time to their submission of three weeks.

Accepted abstracts will require a full draft paper by Thursday 21st of August, 2014. Papers are for a 20 minute presentation, 8 to 10 pages long, double spaced, Times New Roman 12. All papers presented at the symposium are eligible for publication as part of a digital or paperback book.

We invite colleagues and people interested in participating to disseminate this call for papers. Thank you for sharing and cross-listing where and whenever appropriate.

Hope to meet you in Angers!

Symposium Coordinators:

Oana Strugaru
Faculty of Letters and Communication Sciences
Stefan cel Mare University
Suceava, Romania

Alejandro Cervantes-Carson
General Coordinator
International Network for Alternative Academia
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain


Informational Note:

Alternative Academia is an international network of intellectuals, academics, independent scholars and practitioners committed to creating spaces, both within and beyond traditional academe, for creative, trans-disciplinary and critical thinking on current debates and key themes. We offer annual and biannual symposiums at sites around the world, providing forums that foster the development of new frames of reference and innovative structures for the production and expansion of knowledge. Dialogue, discussion and deliberation define both the methods employed and the values upheld by this network.

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