'The biopolitics of sensation' panel SLSA 2015 Houston, TX Deadline March 30

full name / name of organization: 
Mark Paterson, University of Pittsburgh
contact email: 

We are currently seeking submissions for our panel "The biopolitics of sensation".

Mark Paterson, University of Pittsburgh (Paterson@pitt.edu)
David Parisi, College of Charleston (ParisiD@cofc.edu)

We are interested in how the sensate body has been co-constituted and reimagined through a combination of 'hard' technologies (hardware, interfaces), 'soft' or social technologies (disciplinary apparatus or sensorial regimes), and more generally how scientific discoveries concerning sensation and new modes of somatic address have arisen since the original 'turn' to embodiment in the 1990s. Pace Panagia's project in The Political Life of Sensation (2009), what happens if we turn specifically to the formation of motoric or sensory habits in everyday life, or the mediation of sensations through technologies, interfaces, prostheses? In other words, what is at stake for the biopolitical life of sensation?

Foucault's interpretation of the mechanistic materialism of Descartes and La Mettrie, or "the great book of Man-the-Machine" as he terms it, reveals the inherent potential for something more politically transformative. Foucault identifies two registers here: firstly, the "anatomico-metaphysical register" of thinking the machinic body; but secondly, the "techno-political register" whose calculated effects were felt in social institutions for "controlling or correcting the operations of the body" (Discipline & Punish, 1979). With the rise of the sciences of human management, and the quantized self, to what extent do such 'soft' and 'hard' technologies channel or dull sensory channels, cement motoric habits, diminish spontaneity in habit or sensation?

We are open to theoretically-informed papers that contribute to discussion: how the archaeology of interfaces and sensory prostheses has came about, of the place of digital video and haptic cinema in late capitalism, and more generally how 'aesthetic' encounters have problematized the normative configuration of 'sensation' or the sense 'modalities'. We encourage submissions that make use of aesthetic examples, using 'old' or 'new' media, or 'walkthroughs' of new works. This will extend discussions from the successful panel stream 'Reconfiguring Sensation' in 2013, with a view to publication as an edited collection.

The panel will considers issues such as: How are interfaces, sensory prostheses, and technologies of sensory substitution reconfiguring the sensorium? What can art-science collaborations, including digital installations, teach us about the biopolitics of sensation? Given the 'Quantized Self' movement, and availability of biometric data collection for everyday exercise (e.g. FitBit, Nike+), what are the implications for disciplining the body and the senses? What is the relationship between biopolitics and the normative model of the five senses? What effective aesthetic examples are there of mashups, remixes, reconfigurations, of senses, habit, and affects? How are machine interfaces disciplining gesture, sensation, movement, affect?

If interested, please send c250 word abstracts to both organizers. The deadline is March 30th.

This year's annual meeting of the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts, with the theme 'After Biopolitics', will be held at Rice University, Houston, Texas, November 12 – 15, 2015.  Information about the conference can be found at http://litsciarts.org/slsa15/