Graduate Conference: Interpreting Appropriation/Appropriate Interpretation Feb. 28 - Mar. 2, 2014 UMass Boston

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Beacon: A Graduate Conference in the Humanities

The English Department of UMass Boston is pleased to announce our new annual event, Beacon: A Graduate Conference in the Humanities. For our inaugural conference, we are asking for papers that focus on the topics of interpretation and appropriation, and, in particular, how these terms intersect and interact with one another. How can we interpret appropriation? What constitutes appropriate interpretation?
There are many ways to think about appropriation. Appropriation appears to be the motor of artistic innovation. It is through imitation, modification, and renovation that a new generation of artists take the forms and preoccupations of previous generations and makes them relevant. In this sense, appropriation leads us to questions about periodization and literary history more generally. Further, when considered in terms of culture, appropriation refers to instances when a dominant culture takes on aspects of a marginalized culture or vice versa. Appropriation is thus linked to forms of exploitation that speaks to racial, ethnic, gender, and class inequalities. Are these forms of appropriation the same? What cultural, artistic, and political possibilities do each hold? Lastly, we can also think of appropriation in terms of commodification. At a moment when the culture industry seems to have fully appropriated every form of artistic expression, we might ask: how does art avoid appropriation? Do spaces of aesthetic autonomy remain? What effects does this have on the work of art (or art-commodity) itself?
At the same time, these issues might also lead us to consider the appropriateness of interpretation itself. Recent developments within literary criticism such as surface reading, neuroaesthetics, distant reading, and certain aspects of affect theory suggest that interpretation is itself a kind of appropriation, that it reduces the object of interpretation to a means to an end. Is this always the outcome of interpretation? If so, do we have to choose between empirical reading and symptomatic reading? Conversely, can interpretation be considered inappropriate? And if so, are there moments/objects that call for such inappropriate interpretations?
The conference will be held from Friday, February 28, 2014 to Sunday, March 2, 2014 at the UMass Boston campus. We welcome submissions for panels, roundtables, and individual papers. Those interested should send abstracts for individual papers of no more than 250 words, or panel/roundtable proposals containing a session rationale of no more than 250 words and descriptions of roughly 150 words for each individual paper, along with the following information:

• Name
• Email address
• Institutional affiliation

Please send proposals to no later than December 15, 2013.