deadline for submissions: 
November 10, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Rice English Department

CFP: Pleasure

Time: February 15 - 16

Place: Rice University, Houston TX

Keynote presentations will be by Rita Felski and Tim Morton. Rita Felski is William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English at the University of Virginia, and Niels Bohr Professor at the University of Southern Denmark. Her current interests are in aesthetics, interpretation, and method; recent books include Uses of Literature, The Limits of Critique, Critique and Postcritique.

Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Professor of English at Rice University. He has collaborated with Björk, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Walshe, Olafur Eliasson, Haim Steinbach, and Pharrell Williams. His recent books include Being Ecological, Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People, and Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence. His research interests include ecology, literature, music, art, architecture, design and food.


 To think pleasure in 2018 is to think about pleasure after… after the human, after 2 degrees of global warming, even after truth. Historically pleasure has been viewed with suspicion, repressed, trivialized, or commodified – in short it has been cast as the villain, the precursor to ruin. In order to imagine a different future, what if we imagine pleasure differently? This work has already begun, for example in Audre Lorde’s use of the “erotic,” Irigaray’s feminine desire, or Stacy Alaimo’s work on pleasure in the Anthropocene. 

 Yet the contradictory vocabulary of pleasure remains to be fully articulated. Can pleasure be separated from desire? What is the relationship between aesthetics and pleasure? Is there room for pleasure in academia? What is the work of pleasure? Can – or should – pleasure be work at all?

 We invite papers that shed light on conceptions of pleasure. Abstracts may address histories and theories of pleasure, depictions of pleasure, pleasure as practice, and offer innovative ways of understanding pleasure in our present moment. Exploring the role of pleasure in different fields, we hope to facilitate conversations across disciplinary boundaries. 

 This conference focuses on working together rather than presentations of isolated papers. Attendees’ papers will be pre-circulated and participants will meet for discussion in small groups led by seminar leaders. 


Potential Topics

Pleasurable bodies

Deviant sexualities

After work/otium

Technologies of pleasure

The fall

Pedagogies of pleasure

Toys, games, and pleasurable objects



Theories of use, value, and profit

Narrative pleasures

New ideas on psychoanalysis

Affective pleasure

Sensory pleasure 


Deadline extended: please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words by November 10th. Individual papers, as well as panel and group projects, are encouraged. Please send abstracts and questions to