Monday, May 17, 2010

Cfp: "No Future," Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, March 25-27, 2011.

From biblical apocalypse to the nihilism of the late nineteenth century, from the Enlightenment invention of progress to the counter-cultures of the late twentieth century, from technological utopianism to contemporary anticipations of environmental catastrophe, western civilization has been consistently transfixed by the figurative potential of the future. 'No Future' seeks to connect and inter-animate these disparate ways of thinking about the future, while at the same time questioning the basis of the various discourses of futurity they have produced, and which have proliferated in recent years. 'No Future' thus also implicitly questions what it is - other than the preoccupations of the present - that is invoked when we talk about the future. The conference aims to stage a series of inter-disciplinary encounters around these different senses of 'No Future', and to examine the value and implications of adopting a 'futurist' position across and between a range of disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Contributions may take retrospective form, re-assessing significant moments in past discourses of futurity such as apocalypticism, Enlightenment ideas of progress, the persistence of the apparent dialectical unity of utopia/dystopia, the constructions of Modernism and the Historical Avantgarde, the symbolic projections of psychoanalytic theory. Others might examine the disciplinary shifts that have displaced or dispersed avantgardism in postmodernity, opening out onto such themes as transhumanism, post-postmodern reinflections of the dialectic, and various forms of contemporary utopianism. All of these are related to the central question of the ideological and aesthetic implications of any appeal to futurity, at the heart of which lies the tension between the future as rhetorical evasion and the future as the most persistent and deeply embedded of all heuristic devices. Keynote Speakers: Mikhail Epstein (Emory University) Jean-Michel Rabaté (University of Pennsylvania) Patricia Waugh (Durham University) Plenary Panels: Apocalyptic Futures Lenin and Futurity Bloch and Utopian Futures Proposals that specifically engage with any of the following themes are particularly welcome: Ontologies of the Future Forms of Utopia Dystopian Futures Aesthetics and Technology Eco-criticism and Ecotopia Gendered Futures Transhumanism Futurism(s) Futures of Freud Dialectics of the Future The Future of Theory Visit the conference website here: http://www.dur.ac.uk/mlac/research/nofuture/.

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