Recent Opportunities

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CFP: Reformatting the World: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Technology and the Humanities

The Graduate Program in Humanities and the Humanities Graduate Student Association (HuGSA) at York University are pleased to announce an interdisciplinary conference interrogating the critical role of technology, both past and present, in shaping human culture and society. Technology, in the broadest sense, has enriched our lives by opening up new vistas of knowledge about ourselves (or our selves) and the natural world. Digital technologies, for example, have made possible new, highly-advanced forms of social organization. They have also revolutionized almost every aspect of our lives, from travel, communication, entertainment, culture and the arts to food, medicine, education, politics, and science.

However, technology is also associated with the rise of technical rationality and a cold, calculating approach to the creation and application of technological innovation. From the industrial revolution to the development of the atomic bomb, politics in alliance with private interests have wreaked havoc on the environment, peoples and communities across the world, and threatens to alter or destroy the things we value the most. Where, for instance, is the place for privacy, freedom, spirituality, and other aspects of the human experience as we move forward in increasingly technologically administered bodies and societies? Are we destined to become slaves to our own creations, the “sex organs of the machine world,” as Marshall McLuhan predicted? Can humanism and morality withstand—or even make use of—technology for the genuine betterment of humankind?

Or, perhaps it is technology itself that must be rethought. What changes if we conceive of a technology as anything instrumental (a material, tool, text, medium, digital platform, etc.) and/or social (writing, discourse, institution, etc.) that exerts its own subtle pressure, penetrating deeply into in human experience or culture? What happens when our discourses of social/political/cultural technological “progress” are supplemented with that of “affordances” and “constraints?” In other words, can we attend to the stakes of technicity itself as an increasingly prominent (and often assumed) conceptual framework? How can such interdisciplinary approaches trace the real and imagined effects of a given technology across past and present human societies, and where do discourses and practices of technology and the humanities converge?

Panel themes and topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • Digital Humanities: collaboration, new perspectives and communicative technology
  • Technology and the Arts: literature, fine arts, music, film, theatre, sound, fashion, etc.
  • Human–Machine Interaction: cyborgs, the social and the technological,
  • Biotechnology and Biopolitics: policies, ethics and technologies of living organisms
  • Epistemologies: disciplines, divides and the production of knowledge
  • Media Studies: communication and culture, social impact of media
  • History and Philosophy of Technology: past and present perspectives
  • Profit and loss: Potentials of new technologies and what is made antiquated in turn
  • Prophets and the lost: how varieties of spirituality have adapted with/to technology

We welcome submissions from graduate students of any level, as well as early career researchers, from a wide cross-section of disciplines, fields and critical approaches, including (but not limited to) anthropology, art history, classics, communications and culture, comparative literature, critical theory, cultural memory, digital humanities, education, film studies, fine arts, futurism, historicism, history of science and technology, media studies, medical humanities, medicine, philosophy, popular cultural studies, religious studies, representation studies, sociology, translation studies, and women’s studies.

Submissions may take the form of 20-minute papers, or 12–15 minute roundtable papers in either English or French. Those wishing to participate are invited to submit a 250-word abstract to humaconference@gmail.com by 8 December, 2017. Submissions must be accompanied by

  • the presenter’s name
  • institutional affiliation, program and level of study
  • e-mail address
  • tentative title
  • a short (150-word) bio
  • as well as an indication of whether any computing or electronic equipment (e.g., laptop, projector) is needed

We are also very pleased to welcome practitioners of digital technologies who wish to present their work. We are offering access to the Digital Media Studio in the York University School of the Arts, Media, and Performance & Design building in the evenings for post-panel workshops. This room is equipped with Oculus Rift and Vive virtual reality hardware and Unreal virtual reality software. For those wishing to organize such a session, please contact us with technology requirements [etc.?]. Other submissions, in the form of poster sessions, visual art, or performance, will also be considered.

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SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation for its operating support.
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