EXTENSION -- Making and Collecting - University of Virginia - April 7-9, 2017

deadline for submissions: 
January 20, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Graduate English Students Association

Making and Collecting - University of Virginia - April 7-9, 2017

Making and Collecting

April 7-9, 2017

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Keynote: Bill Brown (University of Chicago)

Lunchtime symposium hosted by Bill Brown and Cynthia Wall (University of Virginia)

How does collecting affect our desire and ability to create? Whether browsing library shelves, old notebooks, or Pinterest, engagement with collections is often central to processes of intellectual and aesthetic production. Yet while collecting enables making, collections themselves are almost always in the making—they are incomplete, expandable, and open to reconfiguration. From Chaucer’s poetic “makynge,” to Melville’s compendium of cetology, to Robin Coste Lewis’s critique of the Western archive, authors foreground organization and reassembly as literary strategies, drawing attention to the work of making meaning as well as the gaps and blind spots that shape knowledge and experience.

The University of Virginia Department of English invites graduate student proposals for conference presentations that explore issues of curation, reinvention, archival practice, epistemology, and the intersection of literary, visual, and material cultures. We welcome papers that explore these topics and their interdisciplinary intersections in fields such as museum studies, architecture, archeology, music, history, religious studies, philosophy, education, art history, and others.

Possible paper topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Collecting as a literary/artistic practice and as a precondition for making

  • Notions of re-assemblage in relation to aesthetic production

  • Questions of reinvention, translation, collage, pastiche, and literary recycling

  • The boundaries, possibilities, and difficulties of archives and archival labor

  • The past, present, and future of physical and digital collections, catalogues, and databases

  • The ethics of organization and/or the politics of display and presentation

  • Issues of selection and curation in relation to pedagogical practice and crafting syllabi

  • The role of scholarship in curating, preserving, and forwarding cultural memory


While we welcome projects in the standard 20-minute conference-paper format, we also invite proposals that modify or challenge this format in meaningful ways. Please submit abstracts of 200-400 words, along with relevant biographical information and institutional affiliation, to makingcollecting2017@gmail.com by January 20, 2017.

Bill Brown (keynote; lunchtime symposium) is the Karla Scherer Distinguished Professor in American Culture, English Language and Literature, Visual Arts, and Deputy Provost for the Arts, University of Chicago. He is also Director, The Object Cultures Project, Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory and Co-editor, Critical Inquiry. He is currently working on the intersection of literary, visual and material cultures, an inquiry that asks how inanimate objects enable human subjects (individually and collectively) to form and transform themselves. His major theoretical work is in "thing theory," which borrows from Heidegger's object/thing distinction to look the role of objects that have become manifest in a way that sets them apart from the world in which they exist. He edited a special issue of Critical Inquiry on this subject, which won the CELJ award for Best Special Issue of an academic journal in 2002. His books include Other Things (The University of Chicago Press, 2015) and A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature (University of Chicago Press, 2003).

Cynthia Wall (lunchtime symposium) is Professor of English at the University of Virginia. She is the author of The Prose of Things: Transformations of Description in the Eighteenth Century (Chicago, 2006; Honorable Mention, James Russell Lowell Prize 2007) and The Literary and Cultural Spaces of Restoration London (Cambridge, 1998), the editor of the Concise Companion to the Restoration and Eighteenth Century (Wiley‐Blackwell, 2005), and has edited works by Bunyan, Defoe, and Pope. Her newest work, Grammars of Approach: Landscape, Narrative, and the Linguistic Picturesque, will be published by The University of Chicago Press in 2017.