ENERGIES: THROUGH THE MATERIAL, THEORETICAL & TEXTUAL
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
March 28-29, 2014
Deadline for proposals: December 15, 2013
Fiction writer and essayist Roxane Gay (Eastern Illinois University) is the author most recently of An Untamed State (Atlantic/Grove) and Bad Feminist (Harper Perennial).
Scholar Ursula K. Heise (UCLA) is the author most recently of Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (Oxford University Press).
This conference will explore the many ways that systems of energy facilitate connection and exchange across borders and networks. As the world increasingly searches for new forms of sustainable and renewable power of all kinds, energies direct our lives on both macro and micro levels every day. In 2013, energy as an umbrella term relates not only to the technology that saturates our day-to-day existence — the forces that powers our cars, phones, computers — but also the invisible forces that connect us to each other, to nature, to the world around us and worlds beyond.
The idea of energy crosses disciplinary boundaries and historical periods, but holds a particular resonance for the questions engaged by the humanities. From the printing press to the camera to the Internet, technological and mechanical energy has long been integral to the way we communicate and create. Kinetic energy moves performing bodies across stages and screens; creative energy pushes the artist to new psychic spaces. Along with religion, art and literature have historically been primary catalysts for the exploration of the ways that vital emotional and spiritual energies surround and sustain — or destroy — us.
As a concept, energy also bridges a number of recent critical conversations. Ecocritics investigate the relationship between literature and the environment with an aim toward environmental praxis and a sustainable future, positing what Jane Bennett calls a “vital materiality” that runs through the human and nonhuman alike to emphasize the web of mutual affect that connects all bodies. The turn to phenomenology in queer theory argues that understanding experience may depend on understanding the energies that act on bodies as they move through the world. And, of course, the recent push toward the digital humanities raises questions about in what sort of product we should be investing our scholarly energies.
These are only a few of the many energies that we imagine coming together at this conference. We invite submissions that explore the topic of energies from diverse perspectives and fields, including:
power, machines, science and technology studies
biopower, exploitation, state violence
labor, mass production, old and new materialisms
sex, intimacy, affect
pain, trauma, emotional exchange
reproduction, conception, replication, adaptation, extinction
creativity, the mind, poetics, narrative theory, media technologies
sustainability, nature, the built environment
animals and animality
the supernatural, ghosts, the dead and dying, residual energies
speculative energies, alternative energies, science fiction, the cyborg
revolution, political organizing, radicalism
time, development, excess, decay
the live, theatre, performance, ritual
networks, archives, online communities, the digital humanities
migration, border crossings, diaspora
For individual submissions, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words by December 15, 2013. We also welcome panel proposals composed of three to four presenters on a related theme. To propose a panel, please send a 300-word panel abstract, and include all paper titles.
In addition, creative presentations relating to the theme of the conference, such as poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, films, and performances, are enthusiastically encouraged. In addition to an abstract of no more than 300 words, please indicate technical requirements, as well as the estimated duration of the event, as allotted time may vary depending on the proposed project.