Radical Materialisms--updated

deadline for submissions: 
February 8, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Boston College English Graduate Conference

Radical Materialisms

Boston College English Graduate Conference

April 6th, 2019


***We are pleased to announce that we have extended the deadline for submissions to February 8th***


New materialisms and object-oriented ontology offer a radical reorganization—perhaps a democratization—of human/object relations, deemphasizing human agency in favor of a “parliament of things.” This conference asks if such approaches have been too quick to abandon human politics altogether. Can new materialisms be both conceptually and politically radical?

We seek papers that reflect on the status of political critique in literary criticism today while simultaneously taking seriously the claims of new materialism, vitalism, object-oriented-ontology, and other related critical discourses. We welcome approaches that inject political energy into new materialist discourse, provide political readings of the object matter of literature, or reflect broadly on the political implications of post-human (and post-critique) methodologies.

Possible paper topics may address but are not limited to the following questions:


  • What do old materialisms—Spinozism, Marxism, etc.—have to say about the politics of new materialism?
  • How do literary texts depict the relationship between human agency and nonhuman things in political contexts?
  • What type of theory is needed to ground vitalist accounts of materiality in a radical political climate?
  • How can new materialisms and vitalism be repurposed to sustain a thoroughgoing progressive or radical politics?

We welcome papers that explore these topics in fields such as literature, history, and philosophy, as well as in interdisciplinary fields such as African-American studies, queer studies, women’s studies, and American studies.


Nathan Wolff, Assistant Professor of English at Tufts University, will deliver the keynote address. He is the author of Not Quite Hope and Other Political Emotions in the Gilded Age (Oxford University Press, 2019) and is working on a new book tentatively titled Inhuman Environments: American Literature’s Political Climates.

Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words for 15-20 minute presentations and a short bio to Alex Moskowitz and Laura Sterrett at bcgraduateconference@gmail.com by February 8th, 2019.