This is the fifth annual English graduate student conference and our second collaboration with the Art History Department. Thanks to the students, advisers, and donations from both departments for making this event possible. Additional thanks to the Scherar Center and the Nicholson Center for their generous contributions. We would also like to thank the Open Practice Committee for their contributions and work dedicated to the exhibit that will showcase some of the responses we received to the creative call.
Communicating Forms: Aesthetics, Relationality, Collaboration (October 21-22, 2010) will be the fifth annual joint English and Art History graduate student conference at the University of Chicago. Currently being organized by a committee of students from both departments, it will feature a keynote address by Leo Bersani entitled “Illegitimacy” on Bourdieu, Genet, and Todd Haynes’ film Safe; a concurrent exhibition in the DoVA Temporary storefront gallery opening on October 15th; and a lecture by artist and SAIC professor Anne Wilson entitled “Working Over Time: Cross Collaborations in the Museum Factory.” In light of the conference’s interdisciplinary nature, we hope to interrogate the ways in which various classes of relationships make possible, and complicate, production – artistic, literary, critical, and economic. We also hope to situate the term “relationality,” inflected as it is with psychoanalytic connotations through its use in critical theory such as that of Bersani, with, and perhaps even against, the collaborative processes and “relational aesthetics” at play in the world of artistic production. Panels will explore topics such as the relation between image and text, the space of the social, mediums of exchange, language and translation, relationships within and between pictures, virtual relationality, and loss or the notion of the “incomplete” in relationships. The exhibit will include work by current and recent MFA students from the University of Chicago and elsewhere; a temporary site-specific branch of the Reanimation Library (www.reanimationlibrary.org), an independent collection of books that have fallen out of mainstream circulation; and work by several artist collectives, which will use these books as inspiration. Visitors will be invited to “harvest” text or images from the library’s books by using provided scanners and photocopiers. The conference roundtable will take place in the gallery, and will feature Lauren Berlant, Aden Kumler, and W.J.T. Mitchell.