Envisioning the Body Politic(al): Wayne State University Visual Culture Graduate Symposium

deadline for submissions: 
February 20, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Wayne State University Visual Culture Student Group
contact email: 

Visual Culture Spring 2017 Symposium - Wayne State University, Detroit MI

Envisioning the Body Politic(al)


What images will we remember from the 2016 presidential election? Donald Trump impersonating a disabled journalist? His stalking of Hillary Clinton on the debate stage? Or Pepe the frog?

Whichever image comes to mind, it is clear that every image is inherently political. While perhaps diverting our attention away from human bodies in the world, images of bodies underline that such “real” bodies are equally always already politicized. Both image and body have been incorporated into, celebrated, manipulated, demonized, and resisted by the nationalist, sexist, racist, ablist, homophobic, and xenophobic ideologies upon which the Trump presidency depends. While this is nothing new, the presidential race and Trump’s ascent to power have made the critical role of the visual in interconnecting “real” politics and body politics strikingly clear.

The sixth annual Wayne State University Visual Culture Graduate Symposium seeks paper/presentation proposals that engage questions around the intersection of “the body” and “politics” in contemporary visual culture. We welcome critical investigations in any form, discipline, and period, yet challenge participants to consider the stakes of their projects in the context of the current sociopolitical climate. We encourage presenters to envision the body politic(al) in the broadest sense: i.e., not only as images that portray human bodies, but also the ways in which the political imagines and projects bodies in various contexts—whether in terms of race, gender, sexuality, and ability; of individuality and collectivity; as passive, and easily acted upon, or as active, and thus as potentially dangerous. In addition to critical approaches based in identity politics or biopolitics, we welcome papers that invite us to think about the visualized body in contexts, genres, and historical moments that are not traditionally associated with the political.

Please submit abstracts (250-300 words) of scholarly papers, artist talks, or film/visual media presentations by Monday February 20, 2017 to wsucontext@gmail.com. The symposium will take place at WSU on Friday, April 14, 2017.