FOMO 2020: Exploring What's Missing

deadline for submissions: 
January 21, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
George Washington University
contact email: 

FOMO 2020 -- Exploring What’s Missing

Keynote Address by Prof Ashon Crawley, UVA (bio below)

28 February 2020, 9am-4pm (lunch and refreshments provided)

The George Washington University in the National Churchill Library and Center

Hosted by: The English Graduate Student Association at GWU


The “fear of missing out,” or FOMO, captures the zeitgeist of millenial and modern pop culture, but is simultaneously germane to a broader audience and a longer history linking the individual with missing and missing out. As a contemporary expression tied to technology and social media, FOMO is concerned with reality, possibility, and the delta of dissonance in between. FOMOcan be humorously self-deprecating and crushingly self-deflating. It can be both a motive and an obstacle that simultaneously energizes and stymies, stimulates and stultifies. Its kindred spirits, missing and missing out are discernable in works of literature and art from other periods and geographies, and express similar anxieties that something more exciting, interesting, or worthy is not present to us or in us, and might be elsewhere. “What are we missing?” and “What are we missing out on?” are questions about how we perceive ourselves and others, and bring in concerns about self and social identities, ability/disability, and proprioception/sensation, among others. 


FOMO 2020 seeks papers from across the disciplines of literary and cultural studies that engage FOMO, missing, and missing out in the broadest sense. In addition to the above, other questions might include: Where do we find FOMO, missing and missing out in literature/art/film? How are the concepts explored? To what are they responding and from where do they come? What does an excavation of the terms suggest about connections to/between theory, literature, and culture? How do FOMO, missing and missing out impact how we consider and engage each other, other creatures, and the planet? How are related concepts, such as time, alterity, and possibility, connected? How do form and genre play with the idea of missing and missing out? What is missing--if anything is missing at all?


Please submit 300 word abstracts for individual fifteen-minute presentations. We also welcome panel submissions; these should include a 500 word panel abstract as well as appropriate abstracts for each individual presentation. All submissions should include the proposed paper title as well as a short bio (100 words), giving you name, institutional affiliation, and department. Abstracts should be submitted to Brian Dumm ( by 21 January 2020.


Relevant projects might address one or more of the following topics:

  • Desire and lack

  • Multiplicity and hybridity

  • Memory and Imagination

  • Projection and self-projection

  • Opportunity and opportunity costs

  • Anxiety

  • Ennui and boredom

  • Youth and aging

  • Death and dying

  • Immigration

  • Assimilation

  • Legacy and heritage

  • Tradition and revolution

  • Digital Humanities

  • Affect and sensory studies

  • Critical race studies

  • Marxist literary theory

  • Posthumanist theory

  • Psychoanalytic literary theory

  • Queer theory

  • Disability studies


About the Keynote Speaker

EGSA is proud to welcome Ashon Crawley as the symposium’s keynote speaker. Prof Crawley is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. He is author of Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (Fordham University Press), an investigation of aesthetics and performance as modes of collective, social imagination and The Lonely Letters, an exploration of the interrelation of blackness, mysticism, quantum mechanics and love, to be published with Duke University Press in 2020. He is currently working on a third book, tentatively titled "Made Instrument," about the role of the Hammond Organ in the institutional and historic Black Church, in Black sacred practice and in Black social life more broadly. All his work is about otherwise possibility.