CFP: Seriality Seriality Seriality — Berlin, June 2016

Seriality Seriality Seriality: The Many Lives of the Field That Isn’t One

On June 22-24, 2016, the Popular Seriality Research Unit (DFG Forschergruppe 1091 “Ästhetik und Praxis populärer Serialität”) will hold its final conference in Berlin, Germany.

After six years, thirteen subprojects, nine associated projects, numerous conferences, workshops, and publications it is time to reach some kind of conclusion.

Together with our international collaborators over the years, we would like to explore future possibilities and alternative visions of a “field” that we always claimed existed. Thus, the focus of our final conference will be on the histories, conceptualizations, and methodologies of seriality studies itself.

Trying to sidestep the formats of the project pitch, the case study, the “reading” of individual series according to pre-existing theoretical models or their translation into philosophical master vocabularies, we invite scholarly practices—including those just mentioned—to reflect on the challenges and limits of (their contributions to) seriality studies as an ongoing, perhaps fantastical, project that traverses disciplinary and methodological paradigms.

Each of the Research Unit’s current subprojects will organize a section. Section formats will vary but they will always stress discussion and exchange. Hence, workshops and panel discussions will provide at least 40 minutes for Q&A. Time limits for papers (20 minutes) and panel statements (5 minutes) will be strictly enforced.

We invite paper proposals for sections nos. 3, 7, & 11 by October 31, 2015. Please specify which of these sections you are applying for; note that other sections are already complete.

Please refer to the CFP above for details and application procedures, and visit our conference website at: http://www.popularseriality.de/en/konferenz/index.html

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Trust Issues: Community, Contingency, and Security in North America

Surveillance_cameras

My friend and colleague Felix Brinker, now at the Freie Universität Berlin, is co-organizing a conference on the notion of “trust” — including all the technologies and media of surveillance and control upon which trust is built and broken — in contemporary America. I am pleased to post the call for papers for this exciting event:

“Trust Issues: Community, Contingency, and Security in North America”

GSNAS Graduate Conference 2014

May 9-10, John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

From the misprision of financial institutions to the NSA scandal, recent years have seen several revelations calling the architecture of American society into question. The United States has been rocked by crises of faith that have cast new doubt on the American Dream. Historical breaches of trust are also at the fore. The fortieth anniversary of Watergate is a further reminder that issues of trust constitute a central concern in North American studies.

This conference engages with the significance of trust for social cohesion and the consequences of its withdrawal from social, political, and financial institutions. We also welcome papers exploring how these processes are represented in literature, film, and other media. Where can we place our trust, culturally and socially, given a multitude of informational sources and authorities? How can America’s damaged politico-cultural institutions be stabilized, transformed, or replaced?

Papers are invited on a range of topics from various disciplines. Possible subjects include, but are not limited to:

  • How has America created, maintained, and interrogated its ‘grand narratives’ throughout history? What role does popular culture assume in debates regarding surveillance and control, conspiracy theories, and leadership? 
  • How can the conflicting priorities of an individual’s right to freedom and the communal desire for security be accommodated? In what way do business interests interact with political responsibilities? Can corporations rebuild trust at a local and transnational level? 
  • In what ways do the histories of race, sectarianism, and sexuality in North America intersect with those of community and security? How does the figure of the Other stabilize or destabilize a sense of trust?
  • In what way does minority/divided government influence political accountability and legitimacy? Do the political systems of the U.S. and Canada inspire trust in adequate representation?
  • What does the erosion of trust between narrators and readers signify for modern and postmodernist texts and aesthetics? How are alternative realities, paranoia, and the fear of technology depicted in fiction?
Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words and a short CV to gsnas.conference2014@gsnas.fu-berlin.de. The proposal deadline is February 9, 2014. For updates, please refer to http://www.gsnas.fu-berlin.de/en/conference/2014/index.html.

Extending Play: Rutgers Media Studies Conference

Thanks to Aaron Trammell, who was scheduled to be on the “Game Studies as Media Studies” roundtable with me at the FLOW 2012 Conference, but who was unable to make it due to Hurricane Sandy, I have just learned of an exciting conference going on April 19-20, 2013 at Rutgers University (Aaron is on the organizing committee). The conference is entitled “Extending Play,” and it’s not too late to submit a proposal (but hurry, the deadline is December 1!). Here’s the CFP:

Can we still define play as an organizing principle in today’s technologically mediated world? 

Play can be hard work and serious business, and it’s time to push beyond the conceptualization of play as merely the pursuit of leisure and consider how the issues of power, affect, labor, identity, and privacy surround the idea and practice of play. The Rutgers Media Studies Conference: Extending Play invites submissions that seek to understand play as a mediating practice, and how play operates at the center of all media.

We are interested in all approaches to the traditions, roles, and contexts of play, and hope to explore how play can be broadly defined and incorporated as a fundamental principle extending into far-flung and unexpected arenas. Johan Huizinga characterizes man as the species that plays: “Law and order, commerce and profit, craft and art, poetry, wisdom and science. All are rooted in the primaeval soil of play” (Homo Ludens, p.5).  How does play operate as a civilizing function — or is it perhaps a technology that produces order?

Play is a means of exploring and joining various disciplines: Social media, mash-ups, and blogs have altered how we communicate and create; game design has influenced how businesses relate to consumers; citizen journalists have shifted the role of the professional in mediating information and forging a public sphere.

To explore these questions, we invite scholars, students, tinkerers, visionaries, and players to the first ever Rutgers Media Studies Conference: Extending Play, to be held April 19th and 20th, 2013 on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Confirmed speakers for our keynote conversations include Fred Turner (Stanford University) & Stephen Duncombe (New York University) and Trevor Pinch (Cornell University) & Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky (The European Graduate School).

We invite individuals from media studies and related fields in the humanities and social sciences to participate. Potential topics for paper, panel, roundtable, and workshop may include, but are not limited to:

-Playing with labor: work-like games and game-like work
-Play as resistance (culture jamming, situationist art, or other contexts)
-Gendering (and gendered) play
-Music and performance
-Linguistic play
-Play and social media
-Playing with identity
-Love and play (flirtation, AI relationships, robotica, etc)
-Gamification and games in nontraditional settings
-Transgression, cheating, and “gaming” systems
-Darker side of play (trolling, gambling, or corruption)
-Game studies

The Rutgers Media Studies Conference: Extending Play promises to offer a memorable meeting of scholarship, and to that end, we are looking to play with standard conference conventions. One track throughout the conference will be a series of public workshop sessions in which scholars and practitioners will host roundtable discussions on contemporary issues that bring together an audience of experts and interested parties. In the academic panel track, each presenter will have a maximum of 15 minutes to offer his or her ideas as a presentation or interactive conversation, and will choose one of the following methods of presentation:
–material accompaniment (hand out a zine, scrapbook, postcard series, etc)
–performance (spoken word, song, verse, dance, recording, etc)
–limited visuals (a maximum of 3 slides and 25 total words)
–game (create rules and incorporate audience play)
For additional ideas on how to play with media, play with time, or play with space during your presentation, visit our Style Guide.

The deadline for proposals is Saturday, December 1, 2012. We invite individual proposals, full panel proposals (of four members), and proposals for roundtable and workshop sessions. Please email an abstract of approximately 247 words, along with your name, affiliation, presentation method, and a short biography to mediacon@rutgers.edu. If you are interested in proposing a topic for our public workshop track, or are interested in participating in one, please indicate that as well. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by mid-January 2013.

For more info, see the conference website: mediacon.rutgers.edu

CFP: Comics and Politics

Comics and Politics

7th Annual Conference of the Gesellschaft für Comicforschung (Society for Comics Studies)

at the Institute for Media Culture Studies, University of Freiburg

September 27-29, 2012

comfor2012.comicgesellschaft.de

We invite abstracts for each of the following three parts of the conference: Talks on the main conference topic, Comics and Politics (1); reports on ongoing research projects for any aspect of comics studies for open workshop sessions (2); as well as posters on any topic concerning comics studies (3).

1. Call for Papers on Comics and Politics

Comics interact with politics and the political in several obvious ways: As a format of artistic expression, as a sometimes popular, alternative or marginalized genre, and not least as an element of new media, comics feature specific political dimensions that are not always sufficiently covered by concepts developed for the description of politics in other art forms. While several studies have dealt with particular instances, the special role of comics as archive, player, playing field, and constituent of political processes has rarely been examined under a common perspective.

The 7th Annual Conference of the Gesellschaft für Comicforschung thus invites contributions from different disciplines and starting points that deal with any of the many constellations of comics and politics. Some of these views might, for instance, connect to recent thoughts on an ‘ethical turn’ in cultural studies, or equally to contemporary questions and theories from pictorial studies.

Contributions might address any of the following three broad subjects, among others:

I. Comics Activism: Criticism and Propaganda

Political elements in comics are most conspicuous where they are dealt with topically and explicitly: In depictions, evaluations, negotiations and interventions of political issues. Such comics come in many different forms, from propaganda with a clear political, religious, or cultural agenda, through satirical, subversive, and socially critical work, up to and including alternative media and grey publications. Along with other fictional or documentary comics on contemporary or historical political issues, they also add to an archive of political topics and discourses. Some prominent examples here might connect to Postcolonial or Gender Studies, which have sometimes been somewhat neglected in existing comics studies.

Contributions to this area might, for instance, deal with contexts of publication, habits of reading, dimensions of social effect, as well as topical content and delivery of political concepts in comics. Some objects for research might include cultural treatments of political processes (such as comics ‘about’ the Third Reich, the Cold War, 9/11, etc.); as well as comics that are actively engaged in political debate (such as comics ‘in favour of’ Christian fundamentalism, alternative energy sources, equal rights movements, etc.); but also and not least comics that are foremost conceived and produced as parts of official or alternative political discourses (such as comics ‘in’ politics: the report of the 9/11-commission, military informational and instructional material, etc.).

II. Comics under Control: Censorship and Comic Codes

From a different angle, comics appear as objects of political processes: Where they have been regarded dominantly as children’s and youth literature, they have variously come under the gaze of different concepts of education and socialization, and have been discussed as paradigmatic ‘new media’ – both in apocalyptic warnings of destructive media or as positive vehicles of integration. In other contexts, comics have been described as subversive and alternative forms of communication: Underground Comix and other formats often deliberately play with a performative self-marginalization, employing ostentative obscenity, phantasmagorical depictions of violence, pornography and other echoes of content excluded in controlled media.

Contributions to this area might, for instance, deal with explicit calls for censorship (such as those connected to Wertham’s Seduction of the Inncocent or the Comics Code Authority) through circumstantial pressure on forms and contents (such as modified imagery in recent Barks- and Hergé-publications) up to texts that offer self-reflective commentary on their own limits (perhaps most prominently in Maus’ differentiated self-commentary on the limits and discomforts of its animal allegories). In all of these, political control of media can also be read as a political view of media: In these discourses, comics are first described as harmful, deviant, dangerous, or as productive, useful, educational, in order to justify calls for their restriction or propagation. Can Wertham’s condemnation of comics also count as one of the first detailed, if controversial, analyses of comic books and panel structures?

III. Comics as a Political Art Form: Aesthetics and Ideology

Beyond the explicit treatment of the political in comics, and the explicit treatment of comics in political discourse, many further questions concern the political dimension of specific aesthetics, imageries, and media dispositives in comics. Connecting to models of cultural criticism (from Benjamin and Adorno through to Didi-Huberman, Rancière, or Badiou, or particular theories of pictorial ideology by the likes of Oudart or Heath, and many more), contributions to this area might deal, for instance, with basic constituents of comics and their mimetic conventions, structural effects, processes of narrativization and fictionalization, body imaginations and genre traditions. The very division of the sensual realm into writing and image can no less avoid political relevance than the many issues surrounding a just and justifiable depiction of realities and intentions.

This opens up questions about the formal semantics of the art form, some of which are again dealt with explicitly in comics. Are comics systematically, or are particular comics especially, politically resistant, by the very means of their artistic practice? Or does their connection to mass production and mass media ground them in politically affirmative mainstream cultures? Which concepts might be employed to describe such a basic political dimension of comic book aesthetics?

2. Call for Papers for the Open Workshop

Beyond the discussion of each year’s special topic, the German Society for Comics Studies aims to further co-operation and dialogue in all areas of comics research. The 7th Annual Conference will therefore re-introduce an open workshop format that allows researchers to present and gather feedback on on-going projects within comics studies in all stages of development, and without any thematic restrictions – not limited to comics and politics. The invitation stands for colleagues in all phases of academic careers to discuss any projects on which they are currently working, be it as BA, MA or PhD candidates, established institutional researchers, or free scholars.

3. Call for Papers for the Poster Section

The third part of the conference will, for the first time, present a poster section. Ongoing as well as concluded research projects on all topics – not limited to comics and politics – can be presented on posters. Posters will be on exhibition for the whole time of the conference, and a special poster session will give the authors an opportunity to explain and discuss their work in detail.

We invite short abstracts (1) for 30-minute talks on any topic concerning comics and politics, or (2) for 20-minute presentations in the Open Workshop, or (3) for contributions to the Poster Section.

Please clearly mark your abstract as (1), (2) or (3), and include a short biography and bibliography. Abstracts are welcome by email, as pdf or rtf files. Deadline: February 1, 2012.

For further information, please see comfor2012.comicgesellschaft.de .

Contact:

Dr. Stephan Packard
Juniorprofessor für Medienkulturwissenschaft
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Werthmannstraße 16 79098 Freiburg
Tel. +49-761-203-97842
stephan.packard@medienkultur.uni-freiburg.de

CFP: The Nonhuman Turn

Honeycomb image

This promises to be a great event at the Center for 21st Century Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, with an excellent lineup of speakers:

May 4-5, 2012
The Nonhuman Turn in 21st Century Studies

This conference takes up the “nonhuman turn” that has been emerging in the arts, humanities, and social sciences over the past few decades. Intensifying in the 21st century, this nonhuman turn can be traced to a variety of different intellectual and theoretical developments from the last decades of the 20th century:

actor-network theory, particularly Bruno Latour’s career-long project to articulate technical mediation, nonhuman agency, and the politics of things

affect theory, both in its philosophical and psychological manifestations and as it has been mobilized by queer theory

animal studies, as developed in the work of Donna Haraway, projects for animal rights, and a more general critique of speciesism

the assemblage theory of Gilles Deleuze, Manuel DeLanda, Latour, and others

new brain sciences like neuroscience, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence

new media theory, especially as it has paid close attention to technical networks, material interfaces, and computational analysis

the new materialism in feminism, philosophy, and marxism

varieties of speculative realism like object-oriented philosophy, vitalism, and panpsychism

and systems theory in its social, technical, and ecological manifestations

Such varied analytical and theoretical formations obviously diverge and disagree in many of their aims, objects, and methodologies. But they are all of a piece in taking up aspects of the nonhuman as critical to the future of 21st century studies in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Running roughly parallel to this nonhuman turn in the past few decades has been the“posthuman turn” articulated by such important theoretical works as Katherine Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman and Cary Wolfe’s What Is Posthumanism? Thinking beyond the human, as posthumanism is sometimes characterized, clearly provides one compelling model for 21st century studies. But the relation between posthumanism and humanism, like that of postmodernism to modernism, can sometimes seem as much like a repetition of the same as the emergence of something different.

Thus, one of the questions that this conference is meant to take up is the relation between posthumanism and the nonhuman turn, especially the ways in which taking the nonhuman as a matter of critical, artistic, and scholarly concern might differ from, as well as overlap with, the aims of posthumanism. In pursuing answers to such questions, the conference is meant to address the future of 21st century studies by exploring how the nonhuman turn might provide a way forward for the arts, humanities, and social sciences in light of the difficult challenges of the 21st century.

Invited speakers (to date) include:

Jane Bennett (Political Science, Johns Hopkins)

Ian Bogost (Literature, Communication, Culture, Georgia Tech)

Bill Brown (English, Chicago)

Wendy Chun (Media and Modern Culture, Brown)

Mark Hansen (Literature, Duke)

Erin Manning (Philosophy/Dance, Concordia University, Montreal)

Brian Massumi (Philosophy, University of Montreal)

Tim Morton (English, UC-Davis)

In addition to the invited speakers, the conference will hold several breakout sessions for additional participants to present their work. Please refer to this Call for Papers for details and deadlines.

CFP: “Visions of the Future: Global SF Cinema”

The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, April 12-14, 2012

Keynote Speakers:
Professor N. Katherine Hayles (Literature Program, Duke University)
Professor Thomas LaMarre (East Asian Studies, Art History and Communications Studies, McGill University)

Once considered a marginal object of study, science fiction (SF) is undergoing a radical revision in academic circles, increasingly positioned as a privileged site for interpreting contemporary theoretical concerns on a global scale. Filmmakers throughout the world work both within and outside of the mainstream to pose alternative visions of globalization and its discontents, as showcased in films such as District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, South Africa, 2009),Sleep Dealer (Alex Rivera, U.S.-Mexico, 2008), The Host (Bong Joon-ho, South Korea, 2006), and Pumzi (Wanuri Kahiu, Kenya, 2009).
At the same time, shifts in international filmmaking practices call for a reconsideration of SF cinema, not as an abstract category, but in terms of the networks it makes possible. The rise of digital filmmaking, for example, has implications for the production of peripheral SF; cyberculture has altered how SF is produced, distributed, and received.
“Visions of the Future: Global SF Cinema,” made possible by an Arts and Humanities Initiative Grant from the University of Iowa, is designed to define an emerging field, moving away from the paradigm of national cinema to bring together shared theoretical frameworks, identifying new models and methods to help us investigate SF cinema’s relationship to contemporary global problems.
We invite proposals for papers that examine the multiple permutations of SF film around the world, from its origins to the contemporary moment. While we welcome all abstracts, we are especially interested in papers that address one or more of the following:

*immigration, citizenship, and labor
*shifting constructions of identity (including race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and sexuality)
*theories of technology (such as posthumanism, transhumanism, techno-horror, cyberpunk, and techno-utopias/dystopias)
*bioethics and contagion
*imperialism, neo-imperialism, and the legacy of colonialism
*ecocriticism and environmental catastrophe
*how SF “travels” in and through dubbing, subtitling, and the film festival circuit
*cross-cultural SF film adaptations and remakes
*theories of temporality and history in “multiple” or “alternative” modernities
*SF and new media (including virtual realities, video games and MMORPG, mobile phones, online fandoms, and special effects such as CGI and 3-D)

The organizers will coordinate panels according to shared theoretical concerns, rather than regional or national specialization, to ensure interdisciplinary dialogue. Selected papers will be included in a refereed collection of previously unpublished essays on global SF cinema.
In addition to scholarly panels, the conference will feature screenings of key films in the SF genre from different national cinemas, followed by discussions.
Submission Information:
Please send an abstract (approximately 300 words), accompanied by a brief biographical note (approximately 250 words), toglobalSFconference@gmail.com. Proposals should be sent as Word (.doc/.docx) or PDF files. All submissions will be acknowledged. Deadline: August 31, 2011. Notification will be sent by September 15.
Organizers:
Jennifer Feeley, Assistant Professor, Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures; Cinema and Comparative Literature
Sarah Ann Wells, Assistant Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
The University of Iowa

CFP: Traffic–Media Transatlantic IV

Harold Innis taught us to look at the media as a form of traffic. Media products/signs travel just like things and people; constantly flowing, they overcome space and time, partly on communal and partly on dedicated networks.
Traffic is the sum of its parts, made up of an infinite number of acts of transport and transfer. It is, however, more than that, because traffic has its own logic and forms its own structures and rules.
Traffic is frequently compared with water: it finds a way, forms trickles, raging currents and dissipative structures. In certain places it collects, accumulates, stands still; or seeps away. Traffic and sign traffic cannot be stopped: they overcome any obstacle, penetrate everything and
wear away anything fixed: one can plan, steer and direct them, but probably not control them.
Sign traffic poses a particular problem when it comes to observation. There is no “royal overlooking position” from which there would be a view of the entire proceedings; it is difficult to describe in qualitative terms, while empirical approaches must rely on counting.This conference is intended to take up the image proposed by Innis and view the media as a form of traffic. To this end, the following questions, for example, are of relevance:
• Which media phenomena can be described in traffic terms more accurately than in another perspective? Is it just a metaphor, or more?
• Which conceptions of traffic are represented in which fields of knowledge? Which of them are viable in an analysis of the media?
• Is a comprehensive traffic science, encompassing the traffic of commodities, people and signs alike, conceivable?
• Would this be identical to a kind of media ‘logistics’? Or to a theory about society on the whole, if Marx speaks of ‘forms of intercourse’ and Luhmann of ‘communication’?
• Which associations do the different connotations of the term entail? In English drug traffic, illicit transactions und air traffic control, in German communication in general, and sexual intercourse…
• What is the relationship between traffic and infrastructure? Is traffic only possible on the basis of established infrastructures, or does infrastructure come as a consequence of traffic’s requirements? What is the relationship between traffic and technology?
• Are there specific economic rules that steer the flow of traffic?
• Does traffic –as an adaptive system– allow for a bridging of media theory, fluid dynamics and the analysis of complex systems?
• What do network theories contribute to the understanding of sign traffic?
• What role does storage –Innis refers to staple production– play in relation to flow and traffic?
• Are there also traffic accidents, tail-backs or blocks in the media sphere?The scheduled conference continues a series of events, which started in 2007 and aim to bring together media scholars from the USA, Canada and Germany:

  • Re-Reading McLuhan:

An International Conference on Media and Culture in the 21st Century,
Feb. 14-18, 2007, Schloss Thurnau, University of Bayreuth, Germany
Hosts: Klaus Benesch, Kerstin Schmidt, Martina Leeker, Derrick de Kerckhove
Publ.: de Kerckhove, Derrick; Leeker, Martina; Schmidt, Kerstin (ed.):
McLuhan neu lesen. Kritische Analysen zu Medien und Kultur im 21. Jahrhundert. Bielefeld: Transcript 2008

  • Media Theory on the Move.

Transatlantic Perspectives on Media and Mediation
May 21-23, 2009, University of Potsdam, Germany
Host: Dieter Mersch

  • Media Transatlantic

Media Theory in North America and German-Speaking Europe
April 8-10, 2010, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Hosts: Norm Friesen, Richard Cavell

The Media Transatlantic IV – Traffic conference is organised by the Graduiertenkolleg “Automatisms” (Research Training Group) at the University of Paderborn, Germany www.upb.de/rtg-automatisms .

The Research TG will cover part of your travel expenses.
Please send your title and an abstract of about 500 characters to:
Prof. Dr. Hartmut Winkler [ winkler@uni-paderborn.de ].
Deadline for submissions is July 31, 2011.