The Imaginary [March 4-5 2016; abstracts due December 21, 2015]

full name / name of organization: 
Northeastern University English Graduate Student Association

"The imaginary" invokes spectres, memories, what is sensed, felt, and wanted, the fanciful, visionary, shadow, illusory, what is not visible or legible, a past and a future we can not perceive. For Lacan, the imaginary is the beginning: "I began with the Imaginary, I then had to chew on the story of the Symbolic ... and I finished by putting out for you this famous Real." For sociologist John B.Thompson, the social imaginary is "the creative and symbolic dimension of the social world, the dimension through which human beings create their ways of living together and their ways of representing their collective life."

We invite papers that critically examine any variation of the theme "the imaginary" in literature, theory,drama, history, film, composition, rhetoric, visual culture, the public humanities, and the digital humanities. How might we understand what is imaginary? As an ethos? A fantasy? As opposed or complementary to reason? How does the imaginary shape what is real? What are the radical possibilities of the imagination? How do we turn imagined presences and absences into more material realities?

Topics to consider may include:

-What are the lasting material, political, and cultural effects of imagined communities, nations, borders, boundaries, and
spaces?

-What are the affordances and limitations of re-constructing and re-imagining histories (particularly the histories of colonialism and empire) from the archives?

-How might our imagined or desired futures influence present-day political action in matters such as the refugee and environmental crises?

-How do we think about debates surrounding imagined realities versus lived realities in regards to current movements like Black Lives Matter, Fight for 15, and Trans*Awareness?

-From a pedagogical perspective, how might we most effectively recognize our students' past experiences with writing and reading, and prepare them for a future that we can only imagine?

-How do we imagine and represent our students through assignment structures, curriculum, teaching portfolios, etc.?

-How might "invisible" populations make themselves visible through self-representation?

-How does visual culture negotiate the imaginary and the real?

-How do we imagine the future of the humanities?