Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cfp: "The Perception of Change: Space, Time, and Mobility after Henri Bergson," School of Geography and Environment, University of Oxford, May 27, 2011.

In 1911 the French philosopher and Nobel Laureate Henri Bergson delivered a pair of lectures at the University of Oxford entitled "The Perception of Change." In these lectures Bergson explored some of the challenges of thinking through questions of “change and duration in their original mobility”. In the process, he made what are by now a series of familiar claims: that all movement and change is indivisible; that immobility is actually the product of relations between different mobilities; that the brain is not a storehouse for snap-shot like representational images; and that the past preserves itself automatically. We find it difficult to grasp the true significance of these claims, he suggested, because our thinking is dominated by perceptual habits that encourage us to understand movement as a series of fixed positions in space. The challenge, on his view, is to return to and expand perception, to grasp the fundamental continuity of life’s change, to ‘plunge into duration’ through the elaboration of a style and method of philosophical intuition. In the intervening century, Bergson’s influence has waned and waxed. In recent decades his work has received renewed attention, due in no small part to its reappraisal by Gilles Deleuze. On the occasion of the centenary of his Oxford Clarendon lectures, this symposium will explore Bergson’s ongoing significance as a major philosophical figure. More specifically, by taking these lectures as a point of departure, the symposium will provide a forum within which to reflect upon the resources Bergson provides for thinking through the complex relations between time, space, and the apprehension of movement in the contemporary world.

Confirmed Speakers:

Professor Steven Brown, School of Management, University of Leicester
Dr JD Dewsbury, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol
Dr Peter Merriman, Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University
Professor John Mullarkey, Film and Television Studies, Kingston University, London
Others TBA

We welcome abstracts of 150 words for papers that engage with "The Perception of Change" lectures and/or Bergson’s philosophy more generally. Equally, proposals for artistic or performance based interventions that engage themes in Bergson’s work are also welcome. Scholars of PhD level and higher are encouraged to submit an abstract. The closing date for submission of abstracts is 1st of April 2011. Please send proposals/abstracts to Derek McCormack ( or Tim Schwanen (

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