Thursday, December 10, 2009

Call for papers - Bard Graduate Center "Materials of Persuasion"

Materials of Persuasion
Bard Graduate Center, New York
April 23, 2010

Few persons are capable of being convinced; the majority allow themselves to be persuaded.

I’m in the persuasion business, and frankly I’m disappointed by your presentation.
Peggy Olson, Mad Men

Critics passing judgment, clergy seeking converts, advertisers selling products, and politicians running for office are all in the persuasion business. Persuasion is the key to the art of rhetoric, but there has always been a material dimension to persuasion as well.

Objects are vehicles of persuasion. We are persuaded to purchase and consume objects, and we use them to persuade others, to mediate the identities we put forth, and our interactions with each other. The roles of persuasive objects change over time as they pass from hand to hand. The mutable relationships between material objects, people, and desire are powerful, tantalizing subjects of study. So how does persuasion factor into these fluid equations? Makers, buyers, and users all have unique perspectives on the art of persuasion, as well as unspoken intentions that are constantly at work beneath the surface. Some of these intentions may be deceptive – persuasion can have a dark side. Finally, persuasion rests upon various types of evidence – what must we see in order to believe?

We invite scholars from diverse fields to explore these issues– come, and be persuasive.

  • Topics may include but are not limited to:
  • Marketing, advertising, and the mechanics of consumer desire.
  • Branding and the elevation of the status symbol: What’s in a name?
  • The continuum of authenticity: Influences, appropriations, copies, knock-offs and forgeries.
  • Persuasive scholarship: methodologies, authorial tone, and the use of revealed/suppressed information.
  • Surface treatments: Gilding, varnishing, veneering, trompe l’oeil and faux materiality.
  • The toolbox of persuasion: Emotion, rationalism, the hard sell, manipulation, and deceit.

The conference will take place on April 23, 2010, at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City. Those interested in submitting papers for consideration should contact Please include the title and a 250-word abstract of your paper topic, as well as a CV that includes your contact information and email address. Please send your submission no later than Friday, January 29, 2010. Accepted speakers will be notified in February.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Call for Papers: Disagreement (NYU Comparative Literature Grad Conference) Abstracts due 1/15

Comparative Literature Graduate Student Conference at New York University
Spring 2010

March 5-6, 2010

Can we disagree? The question forces you to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ to commit to one path or the other. Perhaps it even forces you to choose your allies, to prepare for combat.

If we can disagree, how do we do this? Why the desire to disagree in the first place? This questioning asks us to examine the epistemological and material conditions of disagreement; the possibility of dialogue and understanding; the relationship between eristic and dialectic; the role and function of polemos; and the relation between negation, negativity, difference and disagreement.

What forms, moreover, does disagreement take within literary texts? How might literature subvert, use, or propagate ideology? In view of deconstructionist readings that present a text in disagreement with itself, what is the connection between the rhetorics and the materiality of disagreement? As for translation, does it assume an incompatibility between texts that can be termed disagreement?

In the context of academic practices, the issue of disagreement concerns the ethos and the methodology of a community of researchers whose discussions operate according to different models of argumentation. This questioning opens up the possibility of a debate between different disciplines and approaches: for example, how does the model of scientific falsification relate to more interpretive paradigms? How do the forms of disagreement in literary texts compare to the forms it takes in art, philosophy, and the social and natural sciences?

This discussion may also lead us into the political dimensions of disagreement: violence as a form of disagreement; the contradictions inherent in theories of social contract; the figure of authority and tradition; and the moral demand to disagree in the public sphere. Does disagreement, an allegedly belligerent, disruptive force, play a role in the formation of communities? How does this role agree with the community-building functions of consensus?

Finally, does the very possibility of disagreement lead us to an unspoken universality that transcends (or destroys) language games, the linguistic community, and even language itself?

Being together and being against each other–if these are the two modes of disagreement–we invite you to come and disagree with us. Submissions from any discipline on all possible permutations of disagreement are welcome.

300 word abstracts due 01/15/2010 to Please visit our website,, for more information.

Student presentations from Brathwaite's Fall 2009 sycoraX Aesthetics course

Featuring Draper students Faith Merino-Davies, Michael Marra, Charlotte Kelly, and Tiffany Vaughan!

How does sycoraX see b(l)ack?

Presentations by Students of “Caribbean Literature: sycoraX Aesthetics” (Fall 2009)
taught by Prof. Kamau Brathwaite

Friday, December 11, '09
Silver Center Rm 705

10:00am The theory/thesis/journey - Faith Merino-Davies and Alake Pilgrim
11:00am Vocabulary, iconography & method - Ian Foster and Ayinde Jean-Baptiste
12:00pm MR and the Academy - Aika Masomi Swai

2:00pm The historical and native narrative - Michael Marra
3:00pm Critique of the method - Jane Bolin and Marlon Burgess
4:00pm Critique of the word, critique of the course - Charlotte Kelly and Julia Haav

5:00pm The ideal entero: the interdisciplinary basis of the course - Brendan
Wattenberg, Tiffany Vaughan, Sachiko Koto