The Good Consumer: Consumption, Ethics, and Subjectivity--March 31, 2017

deadline for submissions: 
December 22, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Brandeis English Department Graduate Student Conference


Keynote: Professor Joseph Litvak--Tufts University (working title of talk: “Unconsumable Comedy”)



On its surface, “consumption” might seem to be a simple act: eating something, buying something, watching something.  However, theorists from Marx to Veblen to Bourdieu have explored the topic, and recent theory on consumption illustrates that it is a concept that goes beyond the mere definition of taking something in.  Rather than being a straightforward subject-object relationship, consumption redefines and constitutes our subjectivity.  Therefore consumption necessarily entails moral and ethical dimensions and has profound social and cultural implications.

Our 2017 conference, “The Good Consumer: Consumption, Ethics, and Subjectivity,” seeks to rethink modern subjectivity through the lens of consumption, whether it be of food, luxury goods, or the media. We seek to explore various aspects of consumption, asking the question, “Is consumption a ‘good’ interaction between the self and the other?” This topic is particularly relevant today, in light of the prominence of consumption and of concerns about its ethics. We invite a broad range of submissions that explore consumption from both literary and interdisciplinary perspectives.  Please submit a 250-word abstract for a fifteen-minute paper to by December 22nd, 2016.  Please include your name, e-mail address, name of university, and a working title.  

Possible topics may include but are not limited to:

  • consumer culture

  • the relationship between consumer and the consumed

  • modes of consuming and being consumed

  • eating/food: survival and excess

  • shopping and luxury

  • tuberculosis

  • consumption as an exercise of freedom (of choice)

  • eating disorders

  • diet, organic foodies, and well-being

  • vegetarianism and ethical consumption

  • taste/distaste

  • consumption as a mode of aesthetic appreciation and its possible alternative

  • ethics of consumption

  • biopolitics and food management

  • starvation

  • melancholia as a consumed state

  • hunger and artist figures

  • self-starvation as a means of resistance

  • sex and the body: consuming as an erotic metaphor

  • production versus consumption

  • consumption and gender


For more information, please contact the conferences organizers, Abigail Arnold, SarahGrace Gomez, and Pyunghwa Lee, at or visit our website at