Contagion: Matter, Method, and Medium

deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Gender & Violence: South Korea and Beyond (University of Minnesota)
contact email: 

Contagion: Matter, Method, and Medium

University of Minnesota, April 30-May1, 2021
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this conference will be held online through Zoom. Call for Paper deadline: Thursday, December 31, 2020
Organizers: Soyi Kim ( / Soo Jackelen (

Keynote Speaker:
Scott O’Bryan, Indiana University (East Asian Languages and Cultures)

Sangjoon Lee, Nanyang Technological University (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information)

This year, global “contagions” reached multiple tipping points, as seen in the COVID-19 pandemic that compounded racialized hatred and Black Lives Matter protests that fanned out worldwide. These cases materially and biologically substantiated the interconnection between racism, pathological discourse, postcolonialism, necropolitics, and media culture. Now more than ever, “contagion” is a dominant form for thought. The biological dimensions of contagion take on social resonances, and vice versa. The unknowability of contagious diseases tends to boost public anxiety over racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities as well as “exotic” animals. On the other hand, social phenomena, like public rioting, Internet vernaculars, and even collective laughter, are often dubbed “contagious.” In science studies, contagion is biological, viral, material. In the humanities and social sciences, it is geopolitical, racialized, and gendered. From an ecocritical perspective, contagion is material and political, as when the ecological impacts of capitalism create new points of contact with viruses. We propose to think through pandemic and post-pandemic epistemologies, adapting contagion as a methodology that productively blurs the boundaries of nation, discipline, media, genre, gender, and race.

For this biennial Graduate Conference on “contagion,” graduate student scholars in East Asian studies are invited to respond broadly to this theoretical concern with contagion across different media, cultures, genres of writing, research methodologies, geopolitical areas, and disciplinary languages. Papers will emphasize East Asian studies. We welcome work in post/neo/colonial studies, biopolitics, ethnic studies, critical racist studies, feminism, queer studies, trans studies, disability studies, cinema and media studies, and more.

Possible topics for the conference may include, but are not limited to: • Disease on media/art/literature
• Politics/life/media and COVID-19
• History/Historiography of epidemiology in East Asia

• Contagion as a methodology in social science and humanities
• Transnational cinema and media studies
• Meaning of border crossing / translation in media and literature study • Biopolitics and necropolitics in East Asia
• Memes, virality, and internet culture
• Contagious laughter and comedy
• Translation and perception in humor studies
• Affect theory and media/art/literature in East Asia


• Transversality and gender studies (trans, queer, feminist studies)
• Ecocriticism
• Public health Issues (epidemics, pandemics, and other contagious diseases) • Anthropocene, posthumanism, animal, etc.
• Object oriented ontology in East Asian context

We accept submissions from current graduate students from all disciplines whose research interests are in the East Asian area.

Please send the abstract (up to 250 words), and a short bio (up to 100 words) to by December 31, 2020.

Host: Asian & Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota
IAS Research and Creative Collaborative, “Gender and Violence: South Korea and Beyond”

Sponsors: Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies Institute for Advanced Study

The Imagine Fund