Object Emotions: Polemics
(April 15-16, 2016, Cambridge University)
Organizing Committee: Padma Maitland (UC Berkeley); Christopher P.
Miller (UC Berkeley); Marta Figlerowicz (Yale U); Hunter Dukes (U
Cambridge); Hannah Rose Woods (U Cambridge).
“Object Emotions: Polemics” continues a critical dialogue about new
directions in humanities research and theory that began at UC Berkeley
in 2013 and continued at Yale in 2015. This series of conferences is
inspired by the heightened attention to objects and emotions as new
points of entry into history, literature, art, architecture, area
studies, and the social sciences. Through focused attention on the role
of things and feelings, materials and affects, we aim to foster
interdisciplinary reflections about the intersections between thing
theory, affect theory, the histories of emotions, and new materialisms.
Papers presented at the two prior meetings addressed topics as varied as
the ennui of poetic syntax, the felt traces of Chinese calligraphy, the
mixing of pleasure and pain in the design of a nineteenth century girls’
school, and the politics of castration and swordplay in Quentin
Tarantino’s Kill Bill. These divergent projects were organized into
panels around common threads of questions related to spatiality,
temporality, personhood, cultural production, and historiography.
Object Emotions: Polemics seeks critical responses to the emergence of
these intersecting discourses. For example, how do objects and emotions
establish new intellectual grounds, complicate existing histories, and
help us question the assumptions that motivate our disciplines? What are
the limits to affect theories, object-oriented criticism, or speculative
realisms and their local applications? What are the social and political
origins of the current turns to emotions and objects? How do we account
for the newness of “new materialisms” and how might the use of such
theories change when we consider them within other contexts—cultural,
social, political? Do these theories extend certain critical biases or
discourses of power and how might we restore what has been left out, or
occluded by, these new critical turns? How do these approaches to
objects and emotions reflect broader struggles with the formation of
departments and academic institutions as such?
We welcome papers that address any of these questions, or related ones,
with reference to how we might complicate current models for using
affect studies, materialisms, or emotional histories in our respective
disciplines. We also welcome projects that situate these polemics in
relation to specific case studies or individual works of literature,
art, or architecture.
Please submit 250-word abstracts to Padma Maitland at
firstname.lastname@example.org by November 10, 2015. We will send responses
by December 15, 2015. The conference itself will take place at
Cambridge University on April 15-16, 2016.