Detritus, Refuse, and Other Castoffs 2021
The Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students in English presents
Detritus, Refuse, and Other Castoffs
An Online Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference
August 10-12, 2021, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Surely the wake left behind by mankind’s forward march reveals its movement just as clearly as the spray thrown up elsewhere by the prow.
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Few would dispute the validity of Teilhard’s analogy itself: a society is defined as much by what it rejects as what it values. What we might question is the very forwardness of the march he imagines. Moreover, would an exhibit of what any given society has “left behind” constitute a tribute or a condemnation?
Humans generate waste. From basic bodily functions to lofty philosophical and religious dogmas, the idea of letting go of what we don’t need seems, in various forms, to be built into many of our psyches, including in the disturbingly persistent ideology of linear progress that motivates positions like Teilhard’s. Focused on the thrill of surging ahead, Teilhard’s rhetoric conceals the harsh and often bloody process by which the wake – the detritus – is defined and the power structures that underpin the question of who gets to decide. Though some things must be discarded, much is wasted because its value merely goes unacknowledged by those in power, and too much of that waste is measured in lives.
Our conference this year focuses on how societies, both contemporary and historical, determine what to let go of and how. We invite submissions for papers (15-20 min) from across the disciplines that engage critically with issues related to physical, technological, and social disuse, including those that engage with the ideologies of progress that frame these issues, particularly in the light of apocalyptic events like the current pandemic. Proposed topics include but are not limited to:
Waste management and reduction Conceptions of biological difference
Repair vs replace practices Outcasts, social, economic, or otherwise
Obsolescence (planned or otherwise) Acceptance and rejection
Adaptation and evolution Abjection
Development and maturation Return of the repressed
Anomalies and throwbacks Canonicity
Categorization and systemization Archive theory
Technological advancement Utopia and dystopia
Burial and body disposal practices Artistic representations of any of the above
Submissions: Please send a 250-word abstract plus a 50-word bio along with your name, current level of graduate study, affiliated university, email address, and current time zone (in UTC) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Panel submissions are also welcome. Please include “Detritus Conference Abstract” in the subject line.
Deadline: April 16, 2021