EVENT May 04
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‘Changing the Subject’: Subjectivity, Habitus, Behavior, and the End of the Subject

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Organization: BMG Reading Group
Categories: Postcolonial, Graduate Conference, American, Hispanic & Latino, Comparative, Interdisciplinary, British, Popular Culture, Literary Theory, Women's Studies, World Literatures, African-American, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Transcendentalists, 1865-1914, 20th & 21st Century, Medieval, Early Modern & Renaissance, Long 18th Century, Romantics, Victorian, 20th & 21st Century, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Cultural Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Philosophy, African & African Diasporas, Asian & Asian Diasporas, Australian Literature, Canadian Literature, Caribbean & Caribbean Diasporas, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle East, Native American, Scandinavian, Pacific Literature
Event Date: 2017-05-04 to 2017-05-05 Abstract Due: 2017-03-13

The BMG Reading Group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign invites graduate students to present papers at its twelfth annual interdisciplinary conference, “Changing the Subject’: Subjectivity, Habitus, Behavior, and the End of the Subject.”

Our conference brings together innovative work in literature, film, philosophy, psychology, and related fields of study to consider how scholarship and media have responded to questions about subjectivity and ontology, specifically how behavior, habit, embodiment, and the mind affect our understanding of the everyday material existence of the ostensibly individual, coherent subject. As recent developments in domestic and foreign policy (such as the immigration ban) have reanimated questions of who is imagined to be the citizen-subject deserving of humanity, inclusion, and civil rights, our conference confronts the explicit and implicit stakes of reifying subjectivity--and the forms of being that the “subject” excludes and forecloses from our imaginary.

We invite novel paper proposals from any discipline and theoretical background. Possible paper topics and methodologies include, but are not limited to, the following:

Lived experience and materiality in film, visual art, and expressive culture

Theories of racialization and subjectivity

Learned behavior and cognitive theory

Studies in subjectivity and alternate subjectivities

Theories of the mind

Queer subjectivities

Non-normative bodies and minds

Disability and illness

Science and embodiment

Reflex and automatic behavior

Theories of the everyday

Object-oriented ontology

Affect of the mind

Forms-of-life other than the subject

Theories of reading and writing

The posthuman turn

We hope to foster responses to questions concerning the subject, the abject, the reject, and the object. What does focusing on subjectivity in literature and other disciplines teach us? How do the oft-overlooked, banal, everyday categories of behavior, habit, and embodiment shape and determine the conditions of possibility for subjectivity and our lived orientation to the world? When exploring the forms of lived experience that constitute the ontology of the subject, what new forms-of-life along with their attendant interactions with and orientations to the world emerge? How might theories of the mind, behavior, psychology, disability, queer, and non-normative embodiments enliven and re-awaken conversations concerning the relationship between being and everyday existence? What new considerations of ontology as everyday lived practice might reading, writing, film, visual art, and other expressive genres foster? How do questions of being re-orient spectators to their own being-in-the-world? Do such reformulations of subjectivity disrupt or unsettle our understanding of the objects that surround us? How might historic and contemporary scientific studies attempting to define and explore what it means to be shape our understanding of literary texts, representation, and reader reception? Does a reformulation of subjectivity affect our understanding of the citizen, law, nation, and racialization?

Abstracts of no more than 250 words for individual papers (or 350 words for panels) should be submitted to modernities@gmail.com by Monday, March 6, 2017. Please include your name, along with your departmental and institutional affiliations, in your email. Conference papers must not exceed 20 minutes. Visit our website (http://modernities.wordpress.com/) or check us out on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BritishModernitiesatUIUC/) and Twitter (@BMGmodernities) for more information about the BMG.

*About our keynotes:

Professor Wientzen’s forthcoming monograph, entitled Automatic: Literary Modernism and the Politics of Reflex, examines the relationship between modernist experiments in form and twentieth-century scientific thinking about embodiment. His other interests include modernist literary form, contemporary discourses of reflex, and the interdisciplinary relationship between literary studies and modernity’s involvement in public relations, physiology, vitalism, sociology, behaviorism, and propaganda.

Professor Gaedtke’s forthcoming manuscript, Modernism and the Machinery of Madness, focuses on madness, the history of psychology, and the relationship between machinery and psychology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His research interests include literary modernism, psychoanalysis, philosophy of the mind, cognitive science, narratology, disability, medical humanities, and media theory. Professor Gaedtke’s interdisciplinary interests are reflected in his being the distinguished recipient of the IPRH Prize for Faculty Research in the Humanities in 2013 and 2016.



Jessica Witte