Making Sense: A Humanities Symposium

deadline for submissions: 
December 22, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Rice University


In the time of COVID-19, online events and classes make the central (post)humanistic questions of sensation ever more imperative. Making Sense: A Humanities Symposium is an online conference that brings together scholars at all levels from many universities and disciplines to share work about and involving senses, sensation, and processes of perception. Challenges and changes to our daily embodied routines have changed the way we think about the senses—whether it be breathing through a mask, watching lectures on a screen, losing one’s sense of smell, or being unable to hug a friend. This conference aims to provide a platform for new work in the study of the senses and sensation  - now, in the past, or in the future. 

Making Sense challenges scholars to experiment with forms and formats. Its online format allows us to host five keynotes (TBD) who will speak on different aspects of the senses from the perspectives of different disciplines. At the end of the symposium, we will host a roundtable over lunch where all of the keynotes can discuss their work together.

Making Sense: A Humanities Symposium aims to foster continued interdisciplinary discussions between scholars of different fields and areas of expertise at any stage of their career on the problems of perception, especially during a time of increasing disconnect. We invite projects that treat any topic relating to senses and sensation in humanistic disciplines.You might consider:

  • Marginalization or elevation of particular senses

  • How particular instances, artifacts, moments, and texts are or could be influenced by sensation

  • Ruptures and changes in sensory experience

  • Sensation as risk, vulnerability, power, solidarity

  • Affect, affectivity, affectability

  • Augmentation or dampening of sensation

  • Disability studies and sensing bodies

  • Innovation in sensory description and representation 

  • Perspective and point of view

  • Hierarchies of the senses 

  • Beyond the five senses

  • Phenomenology, experience, embodiment


We are also excited to solicit applications for sessions in 5 different formats: Workshops, Roundtables, Activity Sessions, Lightning Talks, and Traditional Panels. All individual entries should anticipate being approximately 15 minutes long, except for Lightning Talks, which should be 5-10. Making Sense will provide access to a premium version of VoiceThread, an online platform where participants can pre-record their talks. Individual projects, as well as panel and group projects, are encouraged.

Please send 250-word abstracts, along with a short bio of one to two sentences including your department, to by December 22, 2020. Please include the type of session you aim to participate in and whether your format is flexible. We will be hosting information about the conference on