In conjunction with its just-announced Annual Meeting in March 2014 at the University of Virginia, the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities will once again hold a Graduate Student Workshop. I attended last year’s workshop in London and highly recommend it. ASLCH is a wonderfully eclectic scholarly community—and peculiarly supportive of graduate students and interested in mentorship. Here’s the announcement:
The Annual Law Culture and Humanities conference is pleased to offer a graduate student workshop designed for graduate students who are undertaking research that cuts across law, cultural studies, literature, philosophy, legal studies, anthropology, political science, economics. The workshop is designed to provide mentoring, practical advice on publishing and applying for work, as well as have some fun. Applications to the workshop should include a statement of research, a current curriculum vitae, and a short statement of the paper that each student will be presenting at the conference. There is limited space for the workshop, and so we cannot admit all (although we will do our best!). Please forward your application to ckellogg[at]ualberta.ca by November 15.
The Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities has announced its 2014 Annual Meeting. I’m particularly excited about next year’s conference, as it will be held at my home university, the University of Virginia.
Here’s the call for proposals:
We are pleased to announce that the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities will be held at the University of Virginia School of Law, March 10-11, 2014. We invite your participation. Please note, panel and paper proposals are due Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
The Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities is an organization of scholars engaged in interdisciplinary, humanistically-oriented legal scholarship. The Association brings together a wide range of people engaged in scholarship on legal history, legal theory and jurisprudence, law and cultural studies, law and literature, law and the performing arts, and legal hermeneutics. We want to encourage dialogue across and among these fields about issues of interpretation, identity, and values, about authority, obligation, and justice, and about law’s place in culture.
This year’s conference theme is as follows:
The Politics of Law and the Humanities: Crisis, Austerity, Instrumentalism
How will law and the humanities scholarship fare against the pressure of the science and technology paradigm that has now permeated the institutional frameworks of academia? Will it mime the general humanities and, as suggested by the defeatist pomp of many national “crisis reports”, merely retreat to its traditional position as the well-mannered guardian of liberal values? Will law and the humanities scholarship be subsumed under the science paradigm’s instrumental ethos by either taking on aims and objectives sanctioned by government policies or by domesticating its own political potential to address those very same policies? Or can we imagine more salutary alternatives to defeatism and instrumental subsumption?
The terrain is well known. The ongoing economic crisis has engendered a worldwide decline in funding for research in the humanities showing sharp decreases between 2009 and 2012 with funds almost cut in half each year. The global trend is also detectable at national levels, with growing gaps between public investment into STEM subjects and the humanities. But the changes do not merely concern the fiscal prioritization of diminishing resources. The social sciences, including law, are under constant political pressure as lawmakers question the value of curiosity-driven basic research. This pressure is then mirrored at the institutional level of individual law schools emphasizing their vocational remits at the expense of research and scholarship. And this research and scholarship is itself increasingly cast in reformist, practical, and “policy relevant” terms, and directed to issues of perceived topical and regulatory concern.
The implied allegation is simple enough: basic research in the humanities and social sciences is, if not obsolete, then at least a luxury we can’t afford in these times; because it cannot satisfy the more immediate needs of market-driven societies in the current economic climate, it is politically irrelevant.
But can we imagine new ways to claim – or, perhaps, to reclaim – our political relevance? Are we relevant in other, perhaps more radical ways? And if we are, how? Is there a politics that is specific to law and the humanities? Or can we articulate the limits to the conversation about “relevance” in a way accessible to minds focused on instrumentality? How might we respond to our critics, or do we ignore them?
Participants are encouraged to reflect on this broad, but not exclusive, conference theme.
In addition to sessions that connect to the theme, examples of other types of sessions we expect to organize include: History, Memory and Law; Reading Race; Law and Literature; Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism; Speech, Silence, and the Language of Law; Judgment, Justice, and Law; Beyond Identity; The Idea of Practice in Legal Thought; Metaphor and Meaning; Representing Legality in Film and Mass Media; Anarchy, Liberty and Law; What is Excellence in Interpretation?; Ethics, Religion, and Law; Moral Obligation and Legal Life; The Post-Colonial in Literary and Legal Study; Processes and Possibilities in Interdisciplinary Law Teaching.
We urge those interested in attending to consider submitting complete panels, and we hope to encourage a variety of formats-roundtables, sessions at which everyone reads the papers in advance, sessions in which commentators respond to a single paper. We invite proposals for session in which the focus is on pedagogy or methodology, for author-meets-readers sessions organized around important books in the field, or for sessions in which participants focus on performance (theatrical, filmic, musical, poetic).
How to register:
ASLCH uses a two part registration system (this will all be explained in detail on the website). First you register your paper or panel and pay a $35 membership fee. Then after January 10th, 2014, assuming your paper or panel is accepted, you go back to the same website (an email will be sent on that day to remind you) and pay the conference fee.
Here is the link to register: https://www.regonline.com/17thannualmeetingLCH
A few highlights from this year’s Futures of American Studies Institute, held June 18-24. The Institute, which takes place every summer at Dartmouth College, is a lively week jam-packed with plenary lectures and grad student workshops. It’s a great place for grad students to connect with top-notch scholars from around the U.S. and Europe, receive feedback on their own work, and generally take the pulse of the field. Sleep is optional. This year, a sizable crew of us tweeted the plenary lectures, which allowed us to share notes and discuss tangents while talks went on.
I was fortunate to be part of the workshop led by Alan Nadel. Over four days, ten advanced grad students presented work in progress and received feedback from each other, Alan, and other faculty whom we invited individually. (We were assigned to workshops roughly based on areas of interest; there was a foreign policy/governmentality theme in my group.) I invited Andy Doolen to join us when I presented my dissertation prospectus, and was grateful for the rich, detailed comments he provided. Alan and my workshop-mates also offered great suggestions.
Some of this year’s hot topics, in no particular order:
- Race and speculative fiction. I know it’s been a while since white geekdom completely ruled the speculative genres. But these days, it seems like if you’re doing ethnic studies and haven’t at least thought about futurism or sci-fi, you might as well go live in a cave. Most memorable were Aimee Bahng on “queer Asian American futurity” in Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl and Soyica Diggs Colbert on the prophetic in Octavia Butler’s Parable series.
- The financial crisis, or, speculative everything. Speaking of living in caves, the housing market crash and general economic apocalypse have heightened interest in property, markets, and global capital. Indeed, the “What if?” that lies at the heart of “speculation” (financial and literary) seems to offer an exciting convergence of the material and the imaginative—and what do American studies scholars love more than that? Although I tend to get skeptical when literary critics put on their economist hats, I really enjoyed Annie McClanahan’s talk on photography and the foreclosure crisis.
- Geography and territory. For better or worse (mostly better, I think), disciplinary boundaries don’t faze American studies scholars. Often borrowing theory and methods from human geography, scholars trained in literature or history are producing increasingly nuanced work on territory, space, and mapping. I especially liked Elizabeth Maddock Dillon’s talk on theater as a “virtual commons” and Andy Doolen’s on the “failed” explorer Zebulon Pike and the American geographic imagination.
- Neoliberalism (or, I suppose, liberalism for the earlier period folks). The field of American studies tends to be, to put it mildly, critical of the faith in individualism and “free markets” that underlies today’s global capitalism. A good portion of the speakers related their topics to capitalism or uneven economic development. I especially liked Donatella Izzo’s talk on The Great Gatsby and “democracy to come” (à la Derrida).
- Digital humanities. The final afternoon featured a digital humanities “unconference” (very fashionable, in case you didn’t know), with lightning talks on a wide range of DH projects. Major props to Lindsay O’Connor, who spoke on the new Praxis Program at U.Va., Mary Caton Lingold for her work with sound technologies at Duke (which you can follow on Twitter at #dhsound), and Jane Greenway for her archival project with the Schomburg Center.
There were also occasional hints about the rather sorry state of humanities higher education. A panel on (the end of?) academic publishing put a damper on things, even after John Carlos Rowe’s uplifting decision to go open access with his latest book. Also, in between (and, I confess, during) lectures, six of us from U.Va. were also checking Twitter and our overflowing inboxes for the latest on the President Sullivan debacle, which fortunately came to an end this past Tuesday.
Finally, and importantly, I want to extend a huge thank you to the U.Va. English Department for funding my and my classmates’ attendance. (But shhh—don’t tell the neoliberals who now run higher education that money is being spent on humanities enrichment.)
Law, Culture & the Humanities 2012: Panel on “Global Citizens: Violence and the Transnational Subject”Posted: March 19, 2012
This past weekend in Fort Worth, TX, I was pleased to be part of the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities. This year’s theme was “Representing Justice.” Tweets can be found at #ASLCH.
Audrey Golden, Nicolette Bruner, and I formed a law and literature panel called Global Citizens: Violence and the Transnational Subject, graciously chaired by Marc Roark of The Literary Table. Here are the paper abstracts:
Translating the ‘Self’ from Central and Eastern Europe: Putting Theory to Practice thought the Works of Aleksandar Hemon and W.G. Sebald by Audrey Golden
The second half of the twentieth century has borne witness to forced migration and statelessness in numbers previously unimaginable within modernity. Through the works of Aleksandar Hemon, a Bosnian-American émigré writer, and W.G. Sebald, a second-generation German novelist, this paper looks to the narratives of displaced persons and questions the role literary theory might play in imagining the processes of transnational movement and of internal “self-translation” that emigrants must undertake. This paper conceives a broader and more abstract model of “translation” that looks beyond natural language to include a cultural self-translation, and then asks if such a process is fraught with previously unimagined identity problems, or whether, although stemming from acts of violence, translating oneself might have ameliorative qualities for an individual caught between places, or in “nowhere” spaces.
Corporate Citizenship as U.S. Empire in Richard Harding Davis’s Soldiers of Fortune by Nicolette Bruner
Published in 1897, Richard Harding Davis’s novel, Soldiers of Fortune, describes the travails of a mining company that operates in the fictional Latin American country of Olancho, a thinly-veiled version of Cuba. The hero, filibustering engineer Robert Clay, facilitates the success of the corporation through military and financial interventions in Olancho. Meanwhile, Clay romances and marries Hope, the young daughter of the sole owner of the company’s stock. In this paper, I examine how Davis complicates the boundaries between corporate employer and human employee even as he glorifies the deeply unequal relation between U.S. corporations and the countries they exploited for profit. Corporate imperialism, as represented by the incursion of the U.S. citizen stockholder and his employees upon Latin American territory, becomes more than a matter of domination, but also an illustration of the complex interdependencies between business, storytelling, and violence in the fin de siècle.
Another Vietnam: War, The Archive, and the USS Kirk by Mai-Linh K. Hong
In late 2010, National Public Radio (NPR) aired a special series about the USS Kirk, a U.S. naval ship that was sent during the fall of Saigon to rescue the “remnants” of the South Vietnamese navy. The rescue was accomplished partly by transferring the Vietnamese ships’ sovereignty to the U.S. through a change of flags, a peaceful, quasi-legal transformation that dislodges the conventional Vietnam War narrative of violence and moral failure. Placing this “never before told” redemption story in the context of today’s U.S. war in Afghanistan, my project examines NPR’s historical revisionism and its production of a new visual iconography for the war that has haunted all later U.S. wars. I argue that, with “the archive” a site of suspense in the Wikileaks era, the rewriting of Vietnam must be understood as a response to contemporary anxieties about American imperialism, militarism, and national identity.
The following call for papers might interest our readers:
Spatial Perspectives: Literature and Architecture, 1850 – Present
FRIDAY 22ND JUNE 2012
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, FACULTY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
This interdisciplinary conference seeks to foster a dialogue between literature and architecture by bringing together papers that encompass the diversity of thinking about these two disciplines and the ways in which they engage and interact. This will be one of the first conferences to examine the intersections of architecture and literature globally over a broad timeframe.
The conference is organised by Nicole Sierra (University of Oxford) and Terri Mullholland (University of Oxford). Contact us at: literature.architecture[at]gmail.com
More information may be found at the conference website.
Seems quite a few graduate conferences this year are tackling interdisciplinary themes relating to space! Indiana University–Bloomington’s Annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference seeks papers on the theme of:
“Occupied: Taking up Space and Time”
We are issuing a Call for Proposals for scholarly and creative submissions for an International Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference entitled “Occupied: Taking up Space and Time” to be held at Indiana University – Bloomington from March 22-24, 2012. This 9th annual conference is hosted by the graduate students of the IU Department of English.Recent calls to occupy space for indefinite durations have provoked us to consider what it means to occupy or to be occupied both spatially and temporally. The current position of “occupy” as a political buzzword confers a multiplicity of new meanings onto a concept already charged with complex histories and forms. This conference seeks to explore the cultural significance and interrelations of its many meanings and implications, from mental pre-occupation and obsession, to the physical spaces we occupy (locked bathrooms to occupied nations), to the ways in which we spend or take up time. Tracing the theoretical, formal, and political implications of this issue necessitates a variety of methodologies and disciplinary perspectives, so we particularly welcome interdisciplinary approaches considering any time period. Below are some suggestions for possible topics. This list is by no means exhaustive; rather, we hope these ideas might inspire some exciting new thoughts related to the theme:
The newly created Collaborations on Indigenous Studies Project (CISP) at Columbia University is accepting paper proposals for its first graduate student colloquium:
Pushing the Boundaries of History, Bodies, Geographies, and Politics
A Graduate Student Colloquium
The Collaborations on Indigenous Studies Project (CISP)
February 15, 2012
We invite graduate students to submit proposals for a graduate student colloquium on the theme of Indigenous Spaces: Pushing the Boundaries of History, Bodies, Geographies, and Politics, to take place at Columbia University in the City of New York on February 15, 2012. Contributors are encouraged to think about ‘indigenous spaces’ that connect indigenous communities, bodies (understood in a broad sense), histories, geographies, and academia.