Call for Proposals

Literary and cultural study have developed overlapping vocabularies to triangulate “worlds” on multiple scales: the psychic worlds of psychoanalytic consciousness invested in the labor of repair, the sociocultural worlds of artistic and political community apprehending a space for multiplicity to endure, and global worlds of transnational capital that totalize the capture of exchange.  With so many worlds, is there a whole world or a world that is whole? What marks off a space as a world and what mechanisms mediate between a world and its own sense of wholeness? What are the parts that compose a whole world or the procedures that give to a world the fantasy of wholeness? What is the place of art-objects in developing and sustaining worlds and in what ways do worlds either totalize or resist closure?

The University of Chicago Department of English invites graduate student proposals for conference papers at the intersections of affective, political, and aesthetic theories under the concepts of wholeness and worlds. Possible paper topics may focalize literary or cultural texts from any period and may engage in conversations with such fields and subjects as:

  • psychoanalysis and the management of part- and whole- objects;
  • systems theory and the autopoiesis of worlds;
  • literary realism and the mediation between aesthetic and political worlds;
  • fictional worlds theory and the administration of novelistic space;
  • global capital and the transnational organization of cultural exchange;
  • ecological criticism and the preservation of symbiotic worlds;
  • new media, virtual worlds, global connectivity, and the nodes of immaterial networks;
  • game worlds and the demarcation of spaces of play;
  • empire, sovereignty, and exceptional spaces;
  • population studies and the control of cultural and social worlds;
  • ambient poetics and the curation of atmospheric reading environments;
  • queer counterpublics assembled in and against homonationalism;
  • speculative realism and the mereology of object-oriented ontologies;
  • art objects and collectives as representative or subversive microcosms;
  • computational methodologies and mapping world literatures;
  • periodization and the compartmentalization of world-historical time; and
  • archival worlds in and against world canons.

Submit 250-300 word abstracts to by November 1.  Please include a brief academic biography.  Presentations will be about 20 minutes in length (approx. 8-10 double spaced pages).


Sponsored by the Department of English, the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, the Franke Institute, the Nicholson Center for British Studies, The Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory and the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago.

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