CFP: Objects of Affection: Towards a Materiology of Emotions (May 4-6, 2012, Princeton U)

> May 4-6, 2012
> In the first issue of the journal Veshch-Objet-Gegenstand, which appeared
> 90 years ago in Berlin, the avant-gardist El Lissitsky placed the object at
> the center of the artistic and social concerns of the day: “We have called
> our review Object because for us art means the creation of new ‘objects.’ …
> Every organized work—be it a house, a poem or a picture—is an object with a
> purpose; it is not meant to lead people away from life but to help them to
> organize it. ... Abandon declarations and refutations as soon as possible,
> make objects!”
> Ultimately, only three issues of Veshch-Objet-Gegenstand would be
> published, but the journal’s project to cultivate object as a primary tool
> of social organization clearly touched upon broader concerns of its time.
> At the end of the 1920s, Sergei Tret’iakov, a leading theorist of Russian
> production art, similarly insisted on abandoning the traditional
> fascination with individual trials and tribulations and to concentrate
> instead on the biography of the object that proceeds “through the system of
> people.” Only such a biography, Tret’iakov maintained, can teach us about
> “the social significance of an emotion by considering its effect on the
> object being made.”
> Taking the Russian avant-garde’s concern with the material life of
> emotions as our starting point, the conference organizers seek to assemble
> an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars working at the
> intersection between studies of affect and studies of material culture. In
> the last decade, these two crucial strands of social inquiry have shifted
> the focus of analytic attention away from the individual or collective
> subject towards emotional states and material substances. These interests
> in the affective and the tangible as such have helped to foreground
> processes, conditions, and phenomena that are relatively autonomous from
> the individuals or social groups that originally produced them. Thus
> interrogating traditional notions of subjective agency, various scholars
> have drawn our attention to “a conative nature” of things (Jane Bennet), to
> “affective intensities” (Brian Massumi), or to textural perception (Eve
> Kosofsky Sedgwick) – to name just a few of these interventions – in order
> to pose questions that fall outside of dominant frameworks for
> understanding the epistemology of power.
> Despite their growing importance, however, these diverse methods and
> concepts for mapping the emotive biographies of things have not yet been in
> a direct dialogue with one another. By focusing on the material dimensions
> of affect and, conversely, the emotional components of object formation,
> this conference aims to bridge this gap.
> We invite submissions from scholars in a range of disciplines including
> history, anthropology, sociology, religion, politics, law, psychology,
> history of medicine, science studies, art, film, media and literary
> criticism, who are interested in exploring types of affective responses,
> protocols of emotional attachment, and regimes of perception that are
> encoded into and sustained by material substances. We welcome theoretically
> rigorous proposals that draw attention to new configurations of object
> relations as well as submissions that examine historically and culturally
> specific forms of affective networks built around instances of inorganic
> life across the world.
> Please send your abstract (300 words) and a short CV to Serguei Oushakine,
> the Chair of the Program Committee ( by February
> 1, 2012.
> Those selected to give presentations at the conference will be contacted
> at the end of February 2012.
> Final papers will be due no later than April 15, and they will be posted
> on the conference's website.
> We may be able to offer a limited number of travel subsidies for graduate
> students and presenters outside the USA.
> Serguei Oushakine (Slavic Languages and Literatures; Anthropology,
> Princeton U)
> Anna Katsnelson (Slavic Languages & Literatures, Princeton U)
> David Leheny (East Asian Studies, Princeton U)
> Anson Rabinbach (Department of History, Princeton U)
> Gayle Salamon (Department of English, Princeton U)


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