Living Enclosures

deadline for submissions: 
January 5, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Stony Brook University 36th Annual Graduate Conference

Stony Brook University 36th Annual English Graduate Conference 

 February 23, 2024 “Living Enclosures” Keynote Speaker: Rachel Adams Columbia University 

 Enclosure is as much origin-story as it is globally contested condition. Critical accounts positioning the act of enclosure as integral to the root-systems of global capitalism, environmental catastrophe and precarity often refer to the historical effort by landowners to do away with the commons in favor of legally and politically recognized enclosures. Transforming sustainable agricultural practices into sites of energy-production primed for capital development, the early-modern enclosure movement gave rise to what Robert P. Marzec characterizes as “a model of the human that took as its direct enemy an environment thought to be threatening because it had yet to be properly secured, privatized, and cultivated” (18). To be enclosed, however, need not be a foreclosure of the subject, a point which Saidiya Hartman emphasizes in her 2019 book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments. An exploration of young Black women’s experiences in early twentieth-century cities such as New York and Philadelphia, Hartman argues that, accompanying the surveillance, criminalization and stigma attendant to these “new enclosure[s]” opportunities emerged for revolutionary modes of intimacy (24).  

Such an insight exemplifies the ambiguous character of enclosure within modernity. Whether placing emphasis on the more potentially redemptive aspects or hewing nearer to its corrosive effects, enclosure’s appearance within a diverse range of critical accounts and artistic mediations speaks to its staying-power as a relevant line of inquiry.  

This conference welcomes presentations interrogating the definition, demarcation, and disintegration of enclosures. How does one approach spatial, temporal, aesthetic, or figurative enclosures? In what ways can resistance to enclosure preserve other forms and frameworks of community? How have global discourses of enclosure influenced the politics of mass incarceration and the carceral industrial complex? How are non-human agents engaged in, resistant, or subjected to issues of enclosure? How can art bolster or undermine the act of enclosing? How might we examine the relationship between enclosure, excess, and alienation? In what ways are exile, communion, and/or re-entry bound to ideas of enclosures? How can we employ concepts of enclosure to think through issues of the nation-state, displacement, colonization, migration, and refuge? How have global discourses of enclosure influenced the politics of mass incarceration and the carceral-industrial complex? How might technology both reinforce and destabilize material and metaphorical examples of enclosure? 

 Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words to by January 5th, 2024. Presentations may include but are not limited to the following fields and topics: 

* Cultural representations of enclosure in literature, theater, visual art, film, television, music, fashion or performance art 

* Carceral Studies 

* Ecocritical accounts of enclosure: the enclosure movement, speciesism, climate change, postcolonial ecologies 

* Labor studies: ramifications of the enclosure movement; historical and contemporary economic enclosures 

* Gender Studies, Sexuality Studies, Queer Theory & Feminist approaches to enclosure 

* Diaspora, Migration Studies: geographic, metaphorical political and cultural enclosures 

* War Literature & War Culture: militarization and enclosure; imperialism-as-enclosure; rhetorical enclosures within militarist discourse 

* African American Literature and Cultural History, Black Studies: segregation, enslavement, racism as literal or figurative instantiations of enclosure 

* Indigenous Studies 

* Colonial & Postcolonial Studies 

* Gentrification & Cultural Displacement 

* Animal Studies 

*Disability Studies/Medical Humanities: categorization of ‘disability’, medicalization 

* Rhetoric: rhetorical enclosure, education and enclosure 

For more information, please visit our conference website.