“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Limits of the Human CFP

Subject to Change: Nature, Text, and the Limits of the Human
The University of Virginia Department of English Graduate Conference
March 22-24, 2013
We invite you to join us as we explore the ontological, environmental, ethical, and literary implications of living in a world in which the primacy of the human has been called into question.

What does it mean to read an object if we, too, are objects? Do inanimate subjects have a claim to the agency that humans have usually taken to be theirs alone? How are artists and scholars supposed to see into the life of things: the animal, the synthetic, the digital, the inert, the abject? How do we read after nature, in a world of things?

Keynote Speech by Timothy Morton

A Roundtable Discussion with
Timothy Morton, and University of Virginia professors
Bruce Holsinger and Jennifer Wicke

Subjects (or is it objects?) of interest include, but are not limited to:

-Object-oriented ontology and the "democracy of objects"
-Whither the human?
-The anthropocene and anthropocentrism
-Nature and the unnatural
-Systems and ecosystems, digital and analog, network and wetwork
-Animism and a living world
-Environment and catastrophe
-Dark ecology and black ecology
-Speculative Realism
-Feminist and postcolonial possibilities after nature
-Translation and metaphor
-Textual history; books as physical objects
-Words for things/things for words
-Humanities without the human
-New ecology and community
-Ethics and bioethics in a posthuman world
-The limits of the body
-Conceptual art and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry
-Natural supernaturalism
-Goethean science
-The sublime; Romanticism and its afterlife

This conference is interdisciplinary: We welcome submissions from a variety of fields. Send an abstract (of up to 350 words) for your 15-minute presentation to gesaconference2013@gmail.com, with your name and institutional affiliation.

Responses are due by November 30th, 2012.

Find more information, updates, and a growing forum on the nonhuman at

Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Chair of English at Rice University. He is the author of Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (forthcoming), Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (forthcoming), The Ecological Thought (2010), Ecology without Nature (2007), seven other books and eighty essays on philosophy, ecology, literature, food, and music.

Bruce Holsinger is Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Neomedievalism, Neoconservatism, and the War on Terror (2007), The Premodern Condition (2005) and Music, Body, and Desire in Medieval Culture (2001). His interests include Critical Theory and Medieval Literature.

Jennifer Wicke is Professor of English at the University of Virginia. She is the author of Feminism and Postmodernism (1994) and Advertising Fictions: Literature, Advertisement, and Social Reading (1988). Her interests include Critical Theory and 20th-Century Literature.

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