cfp Forms of Care - Conference/Workshop/Symposium

deadline for submissions: 
April 19, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Alexandra Kingston-Reese and Erin Lafford / University of York and University of Derby

What forms does care take? What does taking care of oneself, another, or each other look and feel like? These are questions that have arisen and persisted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as everyday intimacies have given way to the need for social distancing, mutual aid groups have organised to try to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in their communities, and NHS hospitals and services have been overwhelmed and altered drastically. Yet these questions also have a rich and interdisciplinary history in the critical medical humanities, disability studies, the environmental humanities, literary studies, affect theory, moral philosophy, feminist theory, and beyond. As a word tied to the realms of both emotion and practice, care simultaneously poses a challenge to and requires form; the messy, ambivalent, spontaneous, and sometimes difficult feelings around caregiving exist alongside the frameworks, structures, routines, and scrupulous attention that acts of care might entail.  

Inspired by current scholarly and political debates (such as the recently published The Care Manifesto by Andreas Chatzidakis, Jamie Hakim, Jo Littler, Catherine Rottenberg, and Lynne Segal) that lament the systematic dismantling of caring infrastructures under neoliberalism and at the same time call for a more expansive sense of caring activities and ‘imaginaries’, this cross-period, interdisciplinary workshop seeks to spotlight form as that which might productively organise but also capture the protean nature of care. We want to work with form as both the textual, creative, and cultural forms and techniques familiar within humanities disciplines, and as a more expansive sense of the forms and institutions of the social world and its ‘arrangements’ (speaking to Caroline Levine’s concept of form), in order to spark discussion especially about care at the intersection of ethics, affect, and aesthetics. 

This two day workshop aims to generate conversation about the form(s)—intellectual, emotional, professional, medical, political, stylistic, structural, social—care has taken in the past, and about how scholarly, creative, and activist projects form care, while generating knowledge and envisioning artistic and social change.

Related questions include but are not limited to the following: 

  • How is care formed? What structures and infrastructures are required to “form” care? How might we describe and/or experiment with those forms?

  • What sets “care” apart as a mode of labour? How do we understand institutions, methods, and genres as forms of care? How does care make space within, outside of, or alongside existing institutions, methods, and genres?

  • What pedagogical lessons can be drawn from the emphasis on care that is becoming central to the public humanities? 

We welcome interdisciplinary approaches (such as but not limited to: critical medical humanities, disability studies, literary studies, affect theory, creative and clinical practice, political, ethical, philosophical, environmental, and feminist perspectives) to the question/notion of care, and cross-period approaches. We would be especially excited to foster conversations around the following topics in relation to care and its forms: intersubjectivity; dependency; (in)security; precarity; care as concern, attention, feeling, practice, labour, method; the temporal experience and practice of care; (in)visibility; the relationship and/or tension between structure/spontaneity; the relationship and/or tension between care/cure; routine; repetition; repair; writing as a form of care. 

This workshop also hopes to explore academia’s interest in care during COVID-19—in particular the attention given to student mental health—and how this might overlap with precarity in the profession. 

Papers are 3000-3500 words. Co-created pieces are welcome. 150- to 200-word abstracts due to by April 19, 2021. We welcome submissions from postgraduate and early career scholars, and as this will be a largely online workshop, we welcome submissions from international scholars, scholars who won't wish to travel, or scholars who have caring responsibilities.

The tentative timeline: Responses to submissions in early May 2021. Submissions from those selected due in early August 2021 ahead of the two-day workshop on 9-10 September 2021.