RAW MATERIAL. Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, March 19-20, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
Northeastern University Graduate Student Association
contact email: 

Northeastern University English Graduate Student Association
Call for Papers:


Keynote Speaker: Dr. Ann Laura Stoler, The New School

Faculty Speaker: Dr. Elizabeth Britt, Northeastern University

March 19-20, 2011

We invite papers that explore the concept of "Raw Material" in literature, theory, drama, history, film, composition, and art. Raw Material is that which can be found, extracted, altered, worked, manipulated, manufactured, produced, and consumed. It is the subject of human labor and the element out of which "things" are made. The quest for raw material continues to drive the exploration of both real and imaginary worlds. As scholars, it leads us to the archives, marketplaces, printers' shops, cutting-room floors, and classrooms in which "materials" undergo processes of alteration, transformation, and manipulation—materials that could be understood as the productive elements of texts, subjects and selves, bodies, empires, and nations.

While "materiality" has held a rooted place in scholarship, we are particularly interested in examining the concept of the "raw" and "raw material." The term itself embodies the tensions inherent in projects of creative, cultural, financial, and national enterprise. Raw material is, as Marx writes, "the fish which we catch and take from their element, water, timber which we fell in the virgin forest, and ores which we extract from their veins." It is the matter of labor and empire, and evokes both images of creation and potential, as well as processes of destruction, exploitation, and misappropriation. We invite papers that may explore the dynamics of labor processes; that may consider the significance of raw material to creative, cultural, financial, and national projects; that may examine raw material as physical, tangible, and corporeal, as well as imaginative and ephemeral; and finally that may map the discursive processes through which the raw material of human experience is shaped, produced, exchanged and deployed.

200-word abstracts may be sent to neuegsa@gmail.com by December 20. Please include your name and university affiliation.