Autonomy and the Body
NB! Extended Deadline for CFP: January 5, 2016
Autonomy and the Body
The fourth and final strand of the conference’s thematic concern with autonomy addresses the question of autonomy in relation to different conceptualisations of the body in literary and artistic works. The question of autonomy is often addressed through problematizing conceptual frameworks that code the body as sexually or biologically determinate or socially constructed, but the notion of autonomy also frequently arises in relation to the post-human where a number of scholars, among them Jane Bennett, have taken issue with definitions of humanism as “exceptional”, that is, with theories positioning human subjectivity (interiority) in relation to the world as object (exteriority). Moreover, technological invention into artistic practice has always been and continues to be significant in shaping, transforming and depersonalising both notions of thinking, aesthetic experience and the construction of knowledge, as Chris Salter's survey of performance history convincingly demonstrates. The role of the body for the formation of, for instance, knowledge, identity or gender is also at the centre of what Patricia T. Clough has called the “affective turn” of recent theory. One of the post-millennial reorientations has been a renewed interest in affect as an unassimilable, non-negotiable, and undeconstructable “remainder,” immanent to materiality. This turn toward affect is symptomatic of parallel developments, such as re-animating theories of the body, looking at intersections between narrative theory and emotions, or re-legitimizing the notion of presence and the present under the guise of event. Many scholars theorize the autonomy of affect as something that impinges on the body in a way that is too sudden and too quick to be cognised and thus excessive of its cognitive and representational powers. Recognition of affect as something irreducible to language and structure on the one hand, and concern with the post-human body on the other, can be seen as the common denominators of these current areas of research. In light of such theoretical approaches to the body, this conference seeks to articulate the question of autonomy through (but not limited to,) the contemporary lenses of affect theory, post-humanism, technology and affective/embodied narratology. We invite the speakers to engage with questions of whether thought and affect are independent from human subjectivity or whether it is possible to theorize the status of the body in terms of agency or identity, as well as other pertinent questionings of the autonomy within new materialist trajectories.
The conference organizers invite contributions that address the issues included in the brief description above. You can choose either to earmark your abstract for this stream, or send it in for general consideration (see CFP).