CFP: 9/11 and the Futures of Critical Thought (6/2/06; 10/21/06)

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"Beyond Ground Zero": 9/11 and the Futures of Critical Thought

Saturday, October 21, 2006

McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

    In the wake of the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World
Trade Center in 2001, and amid sweeping patriotic declarations that the
suicide hijackers had waged a war on America as well as democracy, the
energetic response by public intellectuals, academics, philosophers,
and theorists has been to ask: what "America?? what "democracy?? what
"war?" "for" and "against whom?" Today, in view of the unfolding
catastrophe in Iraq, the growing presence of the Canadian military in
Afghanistan, and the heightened anxieties over "state security," what
does it mean?what could it mean?to conjure the specter(s) of "9/11?" In
what ways does this event haunt the present day, not only as a moment
of traumatic violence, but also as an occasion to change the very
nature of how we think about events? As Jacques Derrida has argued,
9/11 means calling ?into question, at their most fundamental level, the
most deep-seated conceptual presuppositions in philosophical discourse?
(Derrida 100).

     What quickens this one-day conference is a need not only to
(re)visit and unsettle current discourses on "9/11," but also to engage
the ethical, cultural, (geo)political, and pedagogical repercussions of
the attacks in their immediate and long-term aftermaths. How has 9/11
complicated the relationship between (media) spectacle and terror? What
are the new challenges and pedagogical implications of 9/11 and its
myriad representations in the collective work of mourning and public
remembrance? How are theories of alterity at once problematized and
made even more vital by the racialized divides that the attacks
(re)inforced or (re)configured? How are the concepts of "democracy,"
"justice," "freedom," "multiculturalism," "tolerance," and "diversity"
put in the service of "empire" post-9/11? In what ways does the willful
forgetfulness of past cultural traumas enable the public mourning of
only those who died in the attacks? How is 9/11 reshaping our shared
concept of "humanity" and of what constitutes the "human?" The
conference will be animated by the conviction that critical thought and
informed debate?far from being the morally equivocal "weak link"?are,
today, never more urgently needed modes of intervention in the current
and ongoing "War on Terror."

    To reflect the breadth and vitality of current critical work in the
discourses on 9/11, we invite submissions and participants from a wide
range of disciplinary perspectives, including critical theory, cultural
studies, postcolonial and critical race theory, literary studies,
multimedia, peace studies, philosophy, critical pedagogy, queer theory,
and gender studies. Possible subjects of conference submissions may
include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
-(re)configuring the post-9/11 "human"
-specters of "empire" and the spectacle of terrorism
-teaching (after) 9/11: the Humanities and critical pedagogy
-spectacle, memory, and the work of (selective) mourning
-ethics, rights, and doing justice to/after 9/11
-race, gender, and the "alterities" of terror
-trauma, temporality, event: representation and the conceptual limits
of "9/11"
-9/11 aesthetics/the aestheticization of 9/11
-the politics of (bio)power after 9/11

Plenary Speakers:

     Dr. Marc Redfield is Professor of English and the John D. and
Lillian Maguire Distinguished Chair in the Humanities at Claremont
Graduate University. His fields of specialization include Romanticism,
the nineteenth-century novel, aesthetics, literary theory, and
comparative literature. His celebrated recent work focuses on the
genealogy of the concept of ?terror,? and on the ways in which ?terror?
has a complex history in political and philosophical discourse that
inflects its use and abuse in the present day.

     Dr. Roger I. Simon is a Professor at the Ontario Institute for
Studies in Education cross appointed to the Department of Sociology and
Equity Studies and the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning.
Simon is the Faculty Director of the Centre for Media and Culture in
Education and Director of the Testimony and Historical Memory Project
at OISE/UT. His most recent research has addressed questions of the
pedagogical and ethical dimensions of practices of cultural memory in
the context of our age of spectacle.

Sponsored by McMaster University's Department of English & Cultural
Studies and made possible by the generous donations of the John Douglas
Taylor family.

Please submit 500-word abstracts via e-mail to Karen Espiritu or Don
Moore at: by Friday, June 2, 2006. For more
information, please visit our website:

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Received on Sat Mar 18 2006 - 13:38:27 EST