[csaa-forum] CORRECTION: CFP You Can't Be Serious Conference, May 2013 @ McMaster University (Due Oct 15)

Nick Holm holmnh at mcmaster.ca
Tue Oct 16 01:34:12 CST 2012

(Apologies for Cross-Posting)

In an email distributed over the listserv last week, it was incorrectly
suggested that the Taylor conference deadline had been extended again until
November 15. This was unfortunately an error and we apologise for any
confusion this may have caused. The deadline remains October 15 (today). In
order to allow for submission of any proposals that may have been adversely
affected by this error, we will be continuing to accept submissions for two
additional days.

*CFP Deadline extended to October 15th*

Call for Papers: You Can’t Be Serious

*An Exploration of the Idea, Importance and Influence of Seriousness
and Nonseriousness in the Contemporary Humanities
The 2013 John Douglas Taylor Conference
May 15-17, 2013
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario

Confirmed Keynotes: Jeremy Gilbert (University of East London), Julie Rak
(University of Alberta).

Scholarship and intellectual work are serious business: serious people
thinking seriously about serious things. To be serious is to stake a claim
to legitimacy, importance and moral and social relevance. In today’s
academic environment, it can seem vital to reiterate the seriousness of
one’s work in order to secure promotions, positions, resources and even the
notice of one’s peers. And yet to declare seriousness is to deem certain
topics, attachments, questions and trends unserious, unworthy of attention,
rigorous thought and sustained debate. In staking our work around the
unexamined metric of seriousness, what is lost? What questions remain

Despite its centrality to so much of our practice, the notion of
seriousness often goes overlooked and under-thought. Indeed, while much
effort is expended on the broad task of delimiting the borders of what
could, should or ought to be taken seriously, the question of what
constitutes seriousness in our current cultural moment does not receive
nearly as much attention.

The purpose of the 2013 John Douglas Taylor Conference is to place
seriousness front and centre: to think through seriousness, to consider
what it is, what it means, what it might hide or efface. What is invested
in a marker like seriousness? Is it important that we retain such a measure
and if we were to jettison seriousness, what could replace it? This
conference will also call attention to the unserious, considering the value
and role of unserious topics, debates and modes of understanding our
current cultural moment.

In this approach, we are not interested in establishing a hierarchy of
serious and non-serious topics, or advocating a new list of topics to be
taken seriously (though we are open to self-reflexive forms of this
process) but, instead, in investigating how and why the impulse to
construct such a typology works. What is the cultural hold seriousness has
over us, how do we fight it, or do we even want to? If we seek to ask
serious questions, how do we go about determining what these might be, and
how do we know they’re serious? How might an engagement with unserious
methodologies and topics enrich or threaten existing knowledge?

Given that seriousness isn’t the subject of any large body of existing
scholarship, but rather a common and constant concern across all manner of
scholarship, we welcome submissions that engage with seriousness in any
number of theoretical, sociological, anthropological, textual, historical,
political, activist, ethical, artistic or other methods.

*You Can’t Be Serious will involve two different types of panels: the first
will involve traditional academic papers, while the second will be based
around roundtable discussions.
Morning sessions will be composed of traditional paper presentations.
Papers may address topics and questions including, but not limited to, the

§ What does it mean to be serious and how does one determine what is serious
§ Unseriousness: the trivial, the flippant, the glib, the humorous.
§ Unserious affects: boredom, irritation, amusement.
§ Living in Serious Times: 9/11, neoliberalism, global warming, terrorism,
precarity, recession, the Euro Crisis, debt.
§ Seriousness in culture: canon formation, preservation, inspiration.
§ Why so serious? The social imperative to be serious.
§ Being taken seriously (1): marginalised identities and social status.
§ Being taken seriously (2): fandom, social media, reality TV, comic books,
video games and Bieber Fever.
§ Being taken seriously (3): the Humanities, how we do we defend the value
of the work undertaken in our disciplines?
§ The role of the serious in taste, value and cultural hierarchies.
§ Serious Scholarship: The rhetoric of rigour and the demands of funding.
§ Moral Seriousness: responsibility, accountability, justice.
§ We Need to Talk About… Sandusky, Santorum, Strauss-Kahn
§ Serious _______: Business, Crime, Disease, etc.
§ The aesthetics of seriousness and/or unseriousness.
§ The relation of work and play.
§ The ethics of seriousness and/or unseriousness.
§ Seriousness/unseriousness and gender: queer theory, transgender, role
play, performance, crossing boundaries.
§ Seriousness in political discourse: activism, the Tea Party, political
campaigning, the Arab Spring.
§ The role of the academy is determining what is serious.

Individual paper submissions should include a 500-word abstract clearly
articulating your thesis and its relation to the conference theme. Please
include your contact information and institutional affiliation.

It is our hope that this conference can as much spark discussion and debate
as offer a venue by which to present research and work in progress. To that
end, afternoon sessions will be devoted to roundtable discussions on themes
that take up the question of seriousness within particular topics, fields
and questions. Roundtable discussions will include up to five participants
who will each deliver a short provocation (5 minutes) designed to generate
further discussion between presenters and the audience. The purpose of
these panels is to provide a forum to develop, as well as deliver, ideas.

The themes of the afternoon roundtable discussions are as follows:

1)     Is it (always) racist to not take race seriously?
2)     S(queer)iousness?
3)     Why don’t we want to take hipsters seriously?
4)     Is Nature serious?
5)     Is there such a thing as an unserious politics?
6)     The Sokal Hoax, seventeen years on…
7)     What’s more serious, the centre or the margin?
8)     Adorno got picked last in gym class: Sports and Seriousness

To apply to a roundtable discussion, please submit a 300-word response to
one of these topics clearly indicating the question to which you are
responding and your position. As well, please provide your contact
information and institutional affiliation.

Please submit all proposals (paper and roundtable) via e-mail attachment by
*October 15, 2012* to tayconf at mcmaster.ca with the subject line “Taylor
Conference: Seriousness.” Attachments should be in .doc, .docx or .rtf

You Can’t Be Serious will take place 15-17 May 2013 at McMaster University
in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The conference is sponsored by the Department
of English and Cultural Studies and supported by the John Douglas Taylor

Conference organizing committee: Nicholas Holm, Pamela Ingleton, Susie
O’Brien and Carolyn Veldstra.

Dr. Nicholas Holm
Sessional Faculty
Department of English and Cultural Studies
McMaster University
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