[UPDATE] DESIRE: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference

full name / name of organization: 
Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students in English

August 21-23, 2015
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia

"There is only one big thing—desire," says Wunsch in Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark (1915). Indeed, many current events can be explained through the lens of desire, indicating the extent to which human behaviours and socio-cultural phenomena seem to be dictated by yearnings of all kinds. If the recent Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi scandals, for example, have taught us anything, it is that misplaced sexual desire, gender-based violence, and structural power inequalities are not one and the same—that this sort of conflation is problematic and needs to be continually addressed. But what of repressed, socially-sanctioned, or even benevolent desires? In what ways are private desires socially constructed, the products of public discourses and tastes? What might different approaches to the study of desire in literary studies, history, sociology, psychology, or other disciplines tell us about desire itself? How might an interdisciplinary approach inform the study of desire?

Most major thinkers in the Western tradition discuss human desires: Plato defines them negatively in terms of something that is lacking; Augustine argues that concupiscence, or lustful thoughts, arise because of our separation from God; Nietzsche writes of Machtgelüst, or the desire for power; and, more recently, Judith Butler traces the contours and contingencies of deviant identities and desires. We encourage thoughtful engagements with such figures, but we also encourage analyses of desire as it manifests itself in the writing of non-Western, non-canonical authors, in literary or non-literary forms of artistic expression, or in politics, social media, and the everyday.

The Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students in English (DAGSE) invites submissions of paper presentations for "DESIRE: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference." We welcome proposals from students at all levels and in all areas of graduate study. This three-day conference will be held August 21-23, 2015 at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and will investigate the various origins, forms, and consequences of desire in literature, art, history, religion, politics, society, and other areas of research.

We invite proposals for papers (15-20 minutes) on themes and subjects including, but not limited to:

  • Bod(il)y desires; sex, lust, titillation, and the body
  • Fetishes and pornography
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Deviant versus normative desires
  • The politics of desire
  • Utopian hopes and dystopian hangovers
  • Desire in a virtual age
  • Ennui/anomie
  • Policing or prohibiting desire
  • Religious yearnings in a "postsecular age"
  • The commodification of desire
  • Cultural and national desire
  • Desire for freedom/equality/justice
  • Romance

Keynote Speakers: Our Keynote Speakers will be announced shortly.

Submissions: Please submit a 250-word abstract plus a 50-word biographical statement that includes your name, current level of graduate study, affiliated university, and email address to dagse.conference@gmail.com. Panel submissions are also welcome.

Please include the words "conference abstract" in subject line.

Deadline: April 15, 2014. Accepted presenters will receive notification by the end of May.

Contact the organizers at dagse.conference@gmail.com if you have questions about the conference. Visit the conference website at http://www.dal.ca/faculty/arts/english/news-events/dagse-conference.html.