SLSA 2018 (Toronto) PANEL: The Disembodied Woman in Digital Art and Culture

deadline for submissions: 
April 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Society for Literature, Science and the Arts
contact email: 

Call for Papers: SLSA 2018 (Toronto) PANEL: “Vanishing Ladies”: The Disembodied Woman in Digital Art and Culture


“Invisible” is a word that haunts histories of the technologized body. From the popularity of the late-19th century magic trick, the “Vanishing Lady,” to the advent of photography, in which “the body itself appeared to be abolished, [and] rendered immaterial” (Gunning), and the invention of the television (another kind of ‘body’), which Jean Baudrillard writes, “is now intangible, diffuse and diffracted in the real,” it is as Donna Haraway predicted in her ‘Manifesto for Cyborgs’: “modern machines are quintessentially microelectronic devices: they are everywhere and they are invisible.” The threat (and thrill) of this concept is magnified in the digital age, where the body is both immaterial and networked, and where the inscrutability of computational architecture hides itself behind pretty software interfaces that masquerade as perfectly clear and easy to understand.

That the vanishing lady is a lady is no accident. Our representations of the body in digital culture are similarly gendered female. In the new media era there is a simultaneous turn towards invisibility (omnipresent surveillance; dispersed identities) and a return to the material world of things (as evidenced by the recent academic trend towards speculative materialism and object oriented ontology). In this oscillation between absence and presence, it is important to ask: which objects get to be seen and which are made to disappear? The female body seems to be one object that is always in the process of dematerialization (Apple’s digital assistant Siri and CGI Instagram model Lil Miquela, for example).

In keeping with the SLSA conference theme (“Out of Mind”), I hope to construct a panel that both challenges Cartesian dualism (in which the rational is privileged over the corporeal) and demonstrates its problematic perseverance as a structuring principle in art and design. I invite submissions that take up the following questions: Where does the organic human body exist (or persist), especially in relation to “bodies” such as avatars, digital renderings and filmic or animated traces? What are the procedures that construct and govern mechanical and digital bodies, and do these procedures differ substantially from those that govern organic bodies? How do lived conditions of difference such as race and gender factor into digital representations of the body?


I am particularly interested in submissions that explore representations of the female body in relation to:

-       (Dis)embodiment

-       VR / AR (and other immersive media)

-       Digital and algorithmic choreography/dance

-       Visual and screen media

-       Posthumanism

-       Kinaesthetics and sensation

-       Interactivity

-       Affect Studies

-       Interfaces and software

-       Mind-Body Dualism

-       Sound studies


Abstracts of 250 words should be sent to along with a short bio by April 1st.


NOTE: This is a call for papers for a panel to be submitted for consideration for the SLSA conference in Toronto, Canada, November 15-18, 2018. The conference theme is “Out of Mind” and featured speakers include Jack Halberstam and Montreal artist Skawennati. The SLSA general call for papers can be seen here: