Hey Draperites! Call for papers for “Immunity/Community,” the 2015 Stony Brook University Dept of Cultural Analysis and Theory graduate student conference!

There’s an upcoming a call for papers for the 2015 Stony Brook University Dept of Cultural Analysis and Theory graduate student conference! More details below and in the attached flyer:



2015 Stony Brook University Dept of Cultural Analysis and Theory

 Graduate Student Conference

Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 w SBU Manhattan

Whence the urge to immunize? Wherein the possibilities for community? This conference will explore the tension between immunity and community in defining subjectivity, given the current political climate that both withholds protection and rules out community.

In the Ebola crisis, immunity was in part determined by nationality and by race; in Ferguson, on Staten Island, and in Baltimore, only certain bodies bear the brunt of broken policing practices. In both cases, the “immune” have the luxury to choose whether to intervene or not while the marginalized and targeted have little choice but to become part of the “communities” of the violated. Immunity is configured in relation to community, as reinforced by Eula Biss in On Immunity, in which the idea of protecting ourselves from disease is tied to factors that point beyond the individual. While those who refuse vaccines tend to be white and higher income, those affected by their choices are the undervaccinated: the poor, the underinsured, and the just-born. Thus, constructing “immunity” along the lines of personal choice misses the point that this choice has repercussions beyond the self and family. Correspondingly, the Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito in his biopolitical work opposes the notion that “immunitas” is even possible within “communitas”–in short, he states, one can never be fully immune in a community without fundamentally dissolving one’s relationship with it.

Representations of immunity and embodiments of community are plentiful in art and literature. On one hand the human body is envisioned as an enclosed space that guards itself against the overwhelming, excessive, or dangerous influences of the exterior world. In Baudelaire’s poetry the figure of the flâneur functions against the backdrop of bustling Parisian streets. In the existentialist-feminist novels of Simone de Beauvoir, agency is claimed by a sole actor against a patriarchal system. On the other hand, subjectivity is constructed in relation to a community: from the profound “spots of time” of Wordsworth’s poetry, when the great vistas of nature dissolve individual minds, to Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Prodigal Summer, which reveals the interdependent web of union between humans, local animal species, and horticulture in rural Virginia, individual subjectivity is lost in more powerful and meaningful human-human or human-nature communities. Thus a tension emerges between protecting against the crowd and desiring union beyond oneself.

We look now for artistic, political, and philosophical expressions of this tension between autonomy and interdependence, and how they are defined in relation to one another. What can a consideration of immunity and community bring to current understandings of privilege, the body, and our unequal vulnerabilities?

Possible paper topics may include (but are not limited to) the following:

— Alternate constructions of literary or textual subjectivities

— Cultural representations of disease, contagion, and immunity

— Biopolitics, particularly papers that mix the topic with cultural or textual analysis

— Analyses of communities or interdependence in literature/film/popular culture

— Analyses of human-animal or human-environment relationships in text, culture or politics

— Ethics of climate change, disease, or environmental collapse

— The interplay between biology and lived experience

— racial/class/gender privilege or exploration of these subjectivities in literature or film
Abstracts of 300 words or less should be submitted to catgradconf@gmail.com by August 1st.


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