Trance: Graduate Student Conference, English Dept.,GC- CUNY, March 5-6, 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Graduate Student Conference Committee, English Student Asssociation, GC-CUNY
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This conference seeks to bring together critical and imaginative forms of scholarship, workshops, performance and other creative work around ideas of trance. From the Great Awakening's irruptive glossalia to the glossed eyes of late capitalist workers, from various manifestations of trance dance to the moving spiral, trance is woven into the fabrics of spiritual, theological, political, and literary histories, texts and methodologies. Trance not only challenges Enlightenment models of knowledge production, but also forces us to navigate extra-linguistic experience, thus destabilizing language as epistemological ground.

Spells, tricks, and questions abound: Is trance out-of-body or emphatically embodied? Is trance inherent to aesthetic experiences? Does trance (d)evolve from boredom or hyper-attention? Is it inherently active or passive? Does trance occasion a rupture in "business-as-usual" or are the predominant forces of media and markets the producers of trance? Beyond these dialectical poles, what other modalities of critical and creative thinking and expression does trance invite? Trance raises questions concerning conceptions of subjecthood, empiricism versus mysticism, and the limits of knowledge and conscious experience. While trance helps us to explore various modes of being and knowing, it also becomes complicatedly racialized, gendered and classed. We encourage work that explores these tensions, asking how the entranced subject is read differently across cultural lines? How does trance act as both a decolonizing and colonizing practice? Attention to trance in academic study demands reconsiderations of the different ways in which modes of (ir)rational experience and altered-consciousness are accessed, coded and perceived.

We believe that a convocation around trance will produce important interdisciplinary connections and inspire further inquiry through and about our own scholarly and creative methods. Given trance's richly valenced place in poetics, literature, psychological inquiry, religious practice, and sites of cross-cultural exchange, this conference encourages proposals from across a variety of disciplines.

We especially welcome proposals for interactive performances and workshops that might engage participants more experientially.

Professors Susan Buck-Morss and Kandice Chu will be among the opening panel participants on the evening of Thursday, March 5.

Professor Wayne Koestenbaum will be our closing keynote speaker the evening of Friday, March 6.

Participant panels, performances and workshops will take place all day Friday, March 6.

Please send proposals by November 3rd to


Possible proposals may involve but are not limited to the following:

Trance-related art, writing, movement, etc. workshops
Trance and aesthetic experience (temporality, corporeality, aurality, visuality, etc.)
Institutional trance (schools, prisons, museums, etc.)
Trance of production and consumption (the commodity, the assembly line, labor, eating while reading)
Trance and religion/spiritual practices
Trance dance (might include Vodou rituals, the Shakers, Evangelicals, Ravers, and possession of various kinds)
Racial and cultural implications of trance's uses and accessibility (might include Primitivism, New Age and Radical Faeries)
Hypnosis and induced therapeutic states
Transcendence and immanence
Trance and the image
Magic, charms and spells
Methodologies of trance (automatic writing, ritual, practice, etc.)
Sex and trance
Trance and weather
Trance and land(scape)
Reading and writing practices/experiences
Mesmerism in literature
Drugs and the literary
Distraction and/or getting into the zone
Spectatorship, audience participation and crowd mentality
Trance and cinema
Performance as/and trance
Sound and trance
Trance and habit/trance and ordinariness
Trance and ugly feelings
Trance and violence
Trance and so-called criminal behavior
Trance and space/movement
Notions of sanity and mental illness
Trance and trauma
Pain, illness and trance
Prosecution of trance and entranced prosecutors
Trance and community
Trance and marginal state/status
Trance and miscommunication
Trance and the digital
Modes of learning, study skills and procrastination
Radical possibilities of trance