Concussions, Commotions, and Other Aesthetic Disorders

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Department of English at the University of Chicago

Concussions, Commotions, and Other Aesthetic Disorders
Annual Graduate Conference of the Department of English at the University of Chicago, November 20-21, 2014

Keynote Speaker: Claudia Rankine, Henry G. Lee Professor of English, Pomona College
With a public discussion conducted by Lauren Berlant, George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English, University of Chicago

Proposal submission deadline: July 25th, 2014

Consider the concussion, a sudden impact inducing a distortion of perception that might not be recognizable before it is diagnosed; or the commotion, a situation that appears as chaos before its content and contours get defined. What aesthetic forms emerge from an effort to work with and within such types of disorder?

For its autumn 2014 conference, the University of Chicago Department of English Language and Literature proposes to ponder what happens to composition, interpretation, and critique when their motivating impulse is less to organize and structure than to sense disorder. The project of this conference is to thus explore modes of aesthetic production located in the fissures or in periphery of projects of hegemonic or total social mapping (e.g. Marxism, post-structuralism, and psychoanalysis, or, more recently, studies of surveillance, biopolitics, and grammatization). Questions include, but are not limited, to:
• What is the role of sensing in aesthetic production (e.g. literary, visual, auditory, etc.)?
• How does an aesthetic of disorder deal with the event implied by such phenomena as the concussion and the commotion?
• How to approach an aesthetic of disorder when it fails to be reparative?

We invite graduate students and writers to present scholarly and artistic works of fiction, non-fiction, prose, or poetry (or some hybrid) touching on various historical periods and stemming from literary criticism; poetry, poetics, and poiesis; media studies, art history; anthropology; cultural studies; critical theory; or other relevant fields of inquiry. Please submit 250-300-word abstracts for 20-minute presentations to by July 25th, 2014. Include a title as well as your full contact information and institutional affiliation.