Communicating Forms: Aesthetics, Relationality, Collaboration

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University of Chicago Departments of English Language and Art History

Call for Papers and Creative Proposals:
Communicating Forms: Aesthetics, Relationality, Collaboration
Fifth Annual English Graduate Conference, University of Chicago
A joint conference between English Language & Literature and Art History

October 21-22, 2010
Keynote speaker: LEO BERSANI

"A modern reflection on being must be aware of itself not as an approximation of metaphysical truth; rather, the ontology most congenial to an age of information is one that identifies being as relationality, as the principle of connectedness assumed by all technologies of transmission, as well as by the social imaginary that can refract or violate it." - Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, "Beauty's Light"

While a myriad of correspondences and exchanges make artistic, literary, and critical production possible, aesthetic forms themselves can deepen our understanding of relationality and allow us to imagine new modes of collaboration. This conference seeks to investigate relationality in its many guises: as a mode of aesthetic production, as it is represented in art and literature, but also as it fails to produce or eludes affective registration. Submissions of particular interest will consider a variety of subject positions in elective relationships as they are defined through and defining of historically embedded media and technologies.

Together, we hope to address a range of questions concerning the aesthetics of relationality and collaboration. For example:

How might we imagine connectedness in terms that account for the idiosyncratic amity and enmity that exists between theory and material form? What sort of relationship could we elaborate between making and thinking that might complicate the binary of theory and practice? How have historical shifts in forms of connectedness transformed artistic and literary production? Can we articulate the effects of collaboration without terms that have been determined by models of singular subjectivity or individual intention? What are the stakes and possibilities for disciplinary collaborations? Where do insular methodologies break down and what are the conditions for productive (mis)communication?

In the spirit of Leo Bersani's exploration of collaboration as both form and theme, we strongly encourage papers and presentations with multiple authors or artists. We encourage creative submissions that put the concerns of the conference in practice through process, form, or content. Though we look forward to nontraditional formats, all presentations should be no longer than 20 minutes. Please address special space and media requirements in your proposal.

Papers from all disciplines will be considered and may address topics including:

• collaboration, collectivity and connectedness
• (mis)communication and (mis)translation
• Genre and collaborative formation
• relationships and partnerships: in and between works of art and literature, between the artist/author and work, between conceptual and experiential critical models
• interactions in which agency is ambiguously located
• information networks; virtual, global, or otherwise
• the "stuff" of the social; the materiality or immateriality of media and spaces of communication
• historically contingent forms of social interaction and theoretical approaches to sociality (psychoanalysis, queer theory, etc.)
• harmony or discord: commensurability or incommensurability between medium, content, and reception
• intersections of theoretical concepts (such as aesthetics and relationality) and practice (such as the practical dynamics of collaboration).
• group politics: inclusion and exclusion, power-plays, mutinies
• inadequacies of current exhibition spaces, modes of circulation, forms of critical production, or pedagogical exchanges

Please submit abstracts of 350 words or less to by June 15, 2010. Creative proposals may be up to 500 words.