ATTENDING TO LITERATURE
We invite paper proposals for a British Academy funded interdisciplinary symposium on the concept of attention, to be held at the University of Nottingham School of English on the 3rd December. The symposium has three aims:
1. To allow researchers who work on similar questions from different disciplines to interact for the purpose of developing future collaborations and networks;
2. To provide a training opportunity for ECRs in engagement and outreach, allowing participants to practice bringing the specifics of their research to bear on an issue of public concern (attention);
3. To engage non-specialist audience members, in particular those who work in related professions (e.g. teachers, programmers, psychologists) in the exploration of humanities-based perspectives on the problem of attention.
We invite a wide range of interpretations of the concept of attention, but would particularly encourage submissions on any of the topics below. In keeping with the symposium’s public-facing emphasis, we are seeking contributions which aim to present research in a manner that is sufficiently detailed to be helpful to specialists but written with an eye to a wider public audience.
Please email a 250 word abstract and 250 word bio to firstname.lastname@example.org by 20th October. Papers from ECRs will be particularly welcome. We will also be running a session online allowing interaction by participants who are unable to travel to Nottingham or are minimising flying: please indicate on your email if this applies to you. For participants in Europe we encourage train travel rather than flying to the event where possible and can offer a limited number of travel bursaries.
1. ’Attention Panic’
Public anxieties about digital distraction and the threat to attention.
2. Historicising attention
How do the present digitally-fuelled anxieties about attention relate to earlier thinkers on attention and distraction, from Pascal through, for instance, Nietzsche, Simmel and Benjamin?
3. The attention economy
Has attention itself become a commodity, and how has this commodification taken new forms with the development of digital technology?
4. Attending to the body
Various moral philosophers have emphasised embodiment in their discussions of attention: might engaging in certain physical practices and manual or craft work help cultivate certain forms of perception and attentiveness?
5. Attention and attentiveness in ethics
What is the role of attentiveness as a concept in ethics?
6. Compulsory Attentiveness
Drawing on Manne’s recent work on ‘The Logic of Misogyny’, we might ask: what moral hazards arise when attentiveness becomes an expectation that is applied to some groups more than others?
Topics focused on attention in literature:
1. Attention in literary ethics: How might the concept of attention be bound up with accounts of literature’s moral work?
2. Attending in and to the text: What kinds of attention do different literary forms demand or cultivate in the reader? Is the reader’s attention to the text the same as the attention required to write it? Or the interpersonal attention depicted in it?
3. Attention in critical traditions: How do different moments in the history of literary criticism rely on the concept of attention?
4. Poetry analysis and attention
What forms of attention are produced in sustained moments of literary analysis? Might the concentrated and immersive nature of close reading induce states of meditative attention that are distinctive?