Call for Papers: Weissbourd Conference, The University of Chicago, May 6-7

Call for Papers: Weissbourd Conference
May 6-7, 2011 – The University of Chicago

Keynote Address by John Searle
Response by Robert Pippin

The Society of Fellows seeks paper proposals for the Weissbourd 2011 Conference, which will take place on May 6-7.  Generously sponsored by the Bernard Weissbourd Memorial Fund, this annual event brings together scholars from across the humanities and social sciences to present their work in the context of a shared critical problem, debate, or paradigm.

John R. Searle, Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, will deliver the keynote address on this year’s theme of “Contradiction.”  Robert Pippin, Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor of Social Thought and Philosophy at the University of Chicago, will offer a response.  Along with these talks, the conference will comprise a series of panels chaired by faculty, fellows, and visiting scholars.  We are now inviting you and members of your department to be a part of this event.

A few words on this year’s topic:

“Contradiction”–an inevitable term in virtually all areas of critical analysis–describes a fraught relationship between established categories of thought.  Variously signaling a logical impossibility or impasse, an opposing claim or negation, or literally, an act of “speaking against” or speaking otherwise, the notion of contradiction opens up a path toward interdisciplinary examination of the foundations ofcritical inquiry itself.  How does contradiction shape the central problems we address in fields as distinct as history, philosophy, literary and cultural criticism, poetics, politics, psychology, theology, and law?  What is the relationship between such apparently static oppositions as nature/artifice or sacred/profane and dynamic understandings of contradiction such as dialectics?  What forms of coherence and consistency are required for critiques of scientific theories, of artworks and aesthetic practices, of speech acts and texts, or of social and political ideologies?  How do we live with contradiction, in theory and in practice?  And can we live without it?

All who are interested in participating in this conference are encouraged to submit brief abstracts of papers (no more than a paragraph, please) by March 15, 2011.  Paper abstracts may be submitted either for general consideration or for inclusion in one of the following proposed panels:

1. Marx, Hegel, and Modern Philosophy
Chair:  Spencer Leonard, Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences (History)
Panel Description:  This panel addresses the question of Marxism’s relationship to philosophy both in terms of Marx and Engels’ own writings, in the tradition of “high Marxism” of the late 19th and early 20th century, and in the deliberate attempt to recover the question theoretically in the writings of Karl Korsch and Georg Lukács in the early 1920s.
Please email abstracts for this panel to:

2. Tales of Suffering and Revolution: Victimhood and Agency in Collective Memory
Chair:  Berthold Molden, Mellon Fellow and Visiting Scholar in the Social Sciences (History)
Panel Description:  The French-Italian historian Enzo Traverso recently diagnosed the increasing power that narratives of victimhood have in social remembrance: “The memory of the Gulag erased that of the revolutions, the memory of the Holocaust replaced that of antifascism and the memory of slavery eclipsed that of anticolonialism: the remembrance of the victims seems unable to coexist with the recollection of their struggles, of their conquest and their defeats.” Within postcolonial critique, on the other hand, history itself is often envisioned as a specter haunting the postcolonial subject into self‐victimization. It is the aim of this interdisciplinary panel to discuss narratives of victimhood and political agency and scrutinize their alleged bipolarity. Normative reductions towards either victimizing or purely emancipatory historical rhetoric should be questioned and the dialectics between both highlighted. We encourage papers on specific politics of history and memory as well as on theoretical aspects of this topic.
Please email abstracts for this panel to:

3. Poetry and Contradiction
Organizer:  Richard Strier, Frank L. Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor in English  (Chair: TBA)
Panel Description:  This panel will consider whether poetry can live happily with contradiction, and what types of contradiction poetic form and poetic praxis can or cannot sustain.
Please email abstracts for this panel to:

4. Philosophical Contradictions

Chair: Nathan Bauer, Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Humanities (Philosophy)
Panel Description:  This panel examines how philosophical inquiry (analytical and social/political) engages with contradiction, whether in moral psychology, in transcendental arguments, in the use of proofs, and in theories of practical irrationality, among other contexts.
Please email abstracts for this panel to:

5. Theories of Mass Culture: A Panel in Honor of Miriam Hansen
Chair: TBA
Panel Description:  This panel will honor the intellectual legacy of Miriam Hansen (1949-2011), Ferdinand Schevill Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English and of Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Papers directly addressing and drawing on the influence of Hansen’s work are particularly encouraged.  Submissions are also invited on the topics of the Frankfurt School, media theory, film criticism and the history of cinema and of visuality, and theories of mass culture.
Please email abstracts for this panel to:

6. Postsocialism and the Contradictions of Neoliberalism
Chair: Eszter Bartha, Assistant Professor of Eastern European History at the Eötvös Loránd Universityin Budapest and Endeavor Visiting Scholar at the University of Chicago
Panel Description:  This panel seeks to explore how we can interpret shifting working-class political identities post-1989 through the lens of “contradictions of neoliberalism,” and in what ways contradiction itself can offer a methodological tool for the understanding of postsocialist change and the challenges that newly established democracies are facing after twenty years of “transition.”
Please email abstracts for this panel to:

7. Social Conflict
Chair: Stefan Kluseman, Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences (Sociology)
Panel Description:  Social conflict is a pervasive feature of social life and as such has been an integral element and theme in literature, social science research, and the news. Meanwhile, the news media but also literary work and social science research have played integral roles for conflict. Social conflict involves contradictions on various dimensions, including both, obvious forms such as political power struggles, economic (class) conflict, or war as well as more latent forms of conflict. This panel calls for papers studying conflict in its many forms in social science research and literary works as well as the role of the media and literature in conflict. Presentations on a range of topics are welcome, e.g. on political conflict; social and political movements; revolutions; terrorism and counterterrorism; imperialism and movements of national independence; economic (class) inequalities and conflict; ethnic, racial, and religious conflicts; violence; scientific debates; gender conflicts; generational conflicts; public scandals, etc.
Please email abstracts for this panel to:

We invite scholars in all fields to submit abstracts to individual panel chairs and/or to the Weissbourd Conference organizers, who may assemble additional panels in other areas where a substantial shared interest emerges.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions at the following email address:

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