[Deadline Extended] Theory/Post-Theory: An Interdisciplinary Conference

full name / name of organization: 
Graduate Students Association, Department of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley

Due to the spirited discussion that has already been generated in response to our initial announcement, the Berkeley Rhetoric community would like to submit a revised call for papers with an extended deadline of March 1st. Notifications will be sent by mid-March.

Theory/Post-Theory: An Interdisciplinary Conference
Organized by the Graduate Student Association of the Department of Rhetoric
University of California, Berkeley
April 18th, 2014
Keynote Address: Professor David N. Rodowick (Chicago)

The Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley is pleased to invite papers that investigate the role, value, and efficacy of theory in the contemporary humanities and social sciences.

In the humanities and social sciences today, "theory" – and the many meanings and histories that this signifier entails – refers to a series of related but heterogeneous discourses whose assumptions and frameworks often conflict with one another by their very nature as modes of critique. For instance, recent debates over the status of "theory" have centered on the waning influence of "high theory" associated with the American reception of French Post-Structuralism, and along with it, "theory" itself. And yet much critical work has been carried out in the past few decades that demonstrates both the potency and multivariance of "theory" as a non-monolithic enterprise that transcends any one particular discourse. Indeed, contributions from scholars working areas ranging from third world studies to transnational feminism have widened and augmented the scope and relevance of "theory" as such, calling into question the presuppositions of race, gender, and class which have served to both implicitly and explicitly inform many of the discourses in and of "theory" broadly conceived; others have continued to implement the methods of reading characteristic of the French mode to bodies of texts that had hitherto remained unexamined through these frameworks; still others turn to new objects, texts, and questions as they emerge in contemporary culture.

It can be said, then, that "theory," even in its concomitant "post-theory" moments, has also provided the staging ground for debates over the methodological structure and interpretive purchase of a wide range of humanistic disciplines, while also acting as the site of interventions into the epistemological and ethical assumptions which undergird them. The question for practitioners of "theory" today lies precisely in how to grapple with what is included, what is excluded, and what is left behind in both "theory" qua 'theory" and the discourses that constitute and contest it.

With these broad issues in mind, this conference aims to investigate whether or not "theory" has indeed come to an end, and if so, to ask: how could such an end be possible? What do the range of "theory's" periodizations propose in its stead? What are the prevailing "theories" of today? What effects do they have, both intentional and unintentional? What is the relationship between "theory" and interdisciplinarity? What role, if any, can "theory" play in the future of humanistic inquiry?

The keynote address will be delivered by Professor David N. Rodowick (Chicago) followed by a faculty roundtable with Professors Catherine Malabou (Kingston), Mary Ann Doane (Berkeley), and Martin Jay (Berkeley).

With these broad issues in mind, possible themes and topics for papers might include:

-Reflections on the configuration of academic disciplines and the future of interdisciplinarity
-Critiques of power and inequality as constituted or undercut by theoretical discourse
-The methodological and disciplinary form of theory in the 21st century
-Critical genealogies of theory in the humanities
-The relationship between theoretical discourses and new media, digital technology, discourse networks and systems theory
-The role of the sciences and/or Science and Technology Studies in contemporary theory -Reconsiderations of the Frankfurt School, and/or critical theory writ large
-The epistemological (or non-epistemological) grounding of theory
-Theoretical readings of cultural objects

Abstracts of 300 words or less can be sent to post.theory2014@gmail.com on or prior to March 1st, 2014. Please include name, title, institutional affiliation, and a brief academic biography. If possible, please also indicate whether your presentation has A/V requirements. Presentations should last between 15 and 20 minutes.

This event is co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities.