Autotheory: Thinking through Self, Body, Practice (Hybrid Conference)

deadline for submissions: 
October 24, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
University of Glasgow

Call for Papers: Autotheory: Thinking through Self, Body, Practice (Hybrid Conference)

Deadline for Submissions: 1st February 2022

Date: Week of 24th October 2022

Venue: University of Glasgow and online

In 2015, the term ‘autotheory’ rose to prominence with the publication of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, eliciting a flurry of critical and academic attention. Yet the practice of blending self-representation with philosophical and theoretical engagements has a long history and rhizomatic roots. Notably, the practice has been mobilised and advanced through the work of Women of Colour and LGBTQ+ feminist writers and thinkers, for example Audre Lord, bell hooks, Cherríe Moraga, Christina Sharpe, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. Comparable practices have arisen across time and place, across traditions of memoir and autobiographic writing, personal essay, creative nonfiction, criticism, autoethnography, activism, philosophy and critical theory, as well as in performance, visual art and film. While the practice has been most closely associated with literature, we are interested in exploring its possibilities beyond. Artists like Adrian Piper and Félix González-Torres push the boundaries of the term beyond the literary sphere and we especially encourage submissions that do the same.

We use ‘autotheory’ not to limit the possibilities of engagement, but rather to pay homage to the thinkers who have thought alongside it over the years; thinkers like Gloria Anzaldúa, who’s  ‘autohistoria’ and ‘autohistoria-teoría’ are foundational blocks for autotheory as it is understood today. Anzaldua used ‘autohistoria’ to describe art that ‘depicts both the soul of the artist and the soul of the pueblo… [which] goes beyond the traditional self-portrait or autobiography; in telling the writer/artist’s personal story, it also includes the artist’s cultural history.’ In 2009, she coined ‘autohistoria-teoría’ to describe a ‘personal essay that theorizes’. 

The cognate ‘autotheory’ was coined by Stacey Young in 1997 to describe feminist ‘autotheoretical texts’ such as This Bridge Called My Back (ed. Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga) as ‘counter-discourses’ and ‘the embodiment of a discursive type of political action, which de-centers the hegemonic subject of feminism’. Later, Mieke Bal described the practice as a ‘ongoing, spiralling form of analysis-theory dialectic’ and more recently still, Lauren Fournier has referred to autotheory as a means of using autobiography, first person and other self-imaging processes to perform, enact, iterate, subvert and instantiate the hegemonic discourse of theory and philosophy.

The term, then, is nebulous and porous, open to multiple iterations and possibilities. We want to explore them.  

Autotheory: Thinking through Self, Body, Practice will be held over two days at the University of Glasgow and online and will explore autotheory across practices, mediums, disciplines, places and times. We seek contributions from activists, artists, critics, curators, filmmakers, musicians, performers, scholars, writers, and anyone whose work engages with autotheory or with the self and theory/philosophy, working in any medium. We are interested in papers, performances, workshops,  and cross-modal events which explore the history and/or future of autotheory; autotheory as decolonial and feminist practice; the assumptions and implications underlying the mode; practices of autotheory; autotheoretical works and works which might be autotheory; and anything else that touches on the personal as theoretical. Autotheoretical approaches are encouraged. Please also send us your autotheoretical poems, songs, artworks, fragments and uncategorizable miscellanea--we hope to provide space for autotheoretical works themselves.

If you have any queries, please email us at: autotheoryconference@gmail.com

To submit, please complete this google form: https://forms.gle/a4qN1evzivVRxiUNA 

Submissions should include an approximately 300 word proposal and a little bit about yourself. Please also consider if you would like to contribute in person or online and let us know any specific requirements your submission might entail.