Anguish

Georgetown Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference  
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Saturday, March 30, 2019

Keynote Speaker: TBD

Are you feeling it now? The downward pressure of the graduate academic environment; your labors under-rewarded and underappreciated; the prospect of a low return on your investment in higher education; the MLA Jobs Information List this year; the prohibitively high cost of living; prohibitively expensive mental healthcare; healthcare inaccessibility everywhere; the national crisis in student debt; wage stagnation; political disengagement; personal estrangement—sad, lonely, burned out. How are you feeling? And how do you pick yourself up after all of this, how do you just do m eaningful work in response?

We don’t know, either. But since misery does love company, the English Graduate Student Association of Georgetown University invites graduate scholars of all stripes, disciplines, and approaches to an interdisciplinary conference on the topic of anguish. We especially welcome papers that are open in their vulnerability and unknowingness, and that ask for commiseration rather than, say, agreement.

Some questions to consider: As we face the wicked problems of today’s world, what does it mean to turn away from making our work “generative,” that catch-all academic buzzword for anything compelling or catalyzing? What kinds of critical thinking happens when we get together under the mantra of rejecting the compulsive productiveness of capitalism? What does it look like to dwell in negativity and stay with the trouble; to reject utopia and abide in ambiguity? How do we conceptualize affects that cannot be politically organized? What kinds of objects of study are produced under regimes of anguish, and how is anguish inflected in their form?

Possible topics include, but certainly are not limited to:

  • Academic (especially graduate) labor

  • Thinking against redemption, progress, or growth

  • Neurophysical, cognitive, medical, and other approaches to anguish

  • Apolitical and anti-political affects; neglected and disdained affects

  • Gender and anguish

  • Queer negativity

  • Disability futurisms

  • Afro-pessimism

  • Climate pessimism; human extinction

  • Pessimist philosophies

  • Laziness, idleness, ennui

  • Aporia, impasse, stagnation

  • Brutal, dark, and/or suicide memes

  • Mourning in pop culture

Please submit (1) an abstract of between 250 and 300 words, including the title of your proposed paper, and (2) a bio of about 100 words to anguishconference@gmail.com by November 30, 2018. And feel free to email us with your questions, concerns, clarifications, or complaints.