CALL FOR PAPERS for “IMAGINATION TODAY” – the second international conference in a series of forums devoted to the cultural history of modernity, Apriltsi, Bulgaria
THE SOFIA UNIVERSITY CULTURAL CENTRE
CALL FOR PAPERS
for the second international conference in a series of forums devoted to the cultural history of modernity.
The conference’s topic is
The international conference will be held on December 7th, 8th and 9th 2012 at the Center Hotel in the resort town of Apriltsi, Bulgaria.
The official languages of the conference will be English and Bulgarian.
Application deadline: October 15th 2012.
Applications (accompanied by a topic within the thematic areas of the conference, a 300-word abstract and a short bibliography) are to be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thematic areas of the conference
The conference’s title, which to a great extent refers to and elaborates on the issues discussed at last year’s event in Apriltsi, is meant to partly replicate Lyotard’s famous article “Time Today”. The latter rests on the assumption that the market’s key function is to neutralize the future, to forecast it as the dimension of the bound-to-happen and the eventless by refraining from the imagination and resorting, instead, to the equivalent exchange between production, time, and information. In this light, it appears that today’s absolute supremacy of the market involves a reduction of the functions of the imagination and its dissolution into today – the secure presentism of the present.
At the same time, the current global and neoliberal market cannot function without advertising, without seductive images and brand marks: pronouncedly dependent on the media, it is a market of phantasms, i.e. products of the imagination reduced to commodities. It is also true, however, that the invisible electronic capital flows lie, as it were, beyond the conventional imagination and demand a new mode of representation. Where are we, then, today – at the point of demise of the imagination or, on the contrary, at the peak of its dominion? This opens up an interdisciplinary field which we will briefly present as follows:
§ The concept of the imagination – historical shifts, historical forms, and functions of the imagination. Is a cultural history of the imagination conceivable?
§ Contemporary psychological, cognitive, and psychoanalytical studies on the imagination. The imagination and the other functions of the psyche. Cognition, consciousness, the unconscious and the imagination. The imaginary and the symbolic.
§ Time and the imagination. How is social time changing; how do today’s temporal presentism and the fast-paced, hectic, video-clip-like rhythm affect the forms and the functions of the imagination?
§ The imagination and politics. Are we in a position to imagine the future? What forms of political imagination are possible today: the difference between utopia, prognosis, scenario, alternative etc.
§ The imagination and the market: the forms of commodification of the imagination. What is the role of the financial and stock markets in the development and/or the degradation of the imagination? The imagination and risk management: does risk management also involve management of the imagination? The production and consumption of phantasms, the role of marketing and advertising.
§ The imagination and the social. If today there is a crisis of the imagination, does it affect the social fabric? Could it be that the transition to global dynamic network structures ruins “imaginary communities”, nations and nation states? Are we capable of imagining global collectives? How do we do so? What are we to make of the reaction against globalization of contemporary nationalisms? What is their imagination? What is the relationship between the “networks” and the imagination?
§ The city and the imagination: the city as a display and/or interface of economic, political, and subversive phantasms. The role of the “display’, the structure-making function of urban visibility/invisibility. The contemporary “apocrypha” of the city and of the imagination; forms of contemporary urban phantasms. Contemporary architecture and urban planning: between calculation, convention, and imagination.
§ Cultural uses of the imagination today – uses and abuses of the imagination, social and cultural practices. Do visualization, digitization, and the interactive cultural regime of communication help or hinder the imagination? The imagination today as situated between visual, digital, and print cultural practices and literacies. The imagination as situated between places and “non-places” – utopianisms, dystopianisms, heterotopianisms, limits and boundaries.
§ Public presence, media, and the imagination: in what sense, if at all, are the changes in public presence related to the forms of the imagination? How does the growing influence of the digital media relate to the imagination and its uses?
§ Morality and the imagination: does today’s imagination play any role in formulating and upholding norms?
§ Religion, secularization, de-secularization and the imagination. Forms of contemporary religious experience – what sort of imagination do they demand? Negative theology, apophatism, imagination.
§ The arts and the imagination: what forms of imagination do the contemporary arts cultivate? The ineffable, the negative and the imagination. The claims concerning “art’s demise” and the imagination. The topic of the “ineffable future” and the imagination. Popular art, the production of bestsellers, pop culture and the imagination. Visual culture: ascent or demise of the imagination? Is it true that we are living in the age of “pan-visualization” or is it true that there are other, “non-visual” forms of imagination? Is the phrase “imagination without image” an oxymoron or a tautology: are we not returning to the Kantian discussion of the sublime? Fiction genres: fantasy, phantasmagoria, science fiction, utopian and anti-utopian genres. Are we witnessing a reduction of the imagination to genre conventions?
The conference will be run by an organizing committee which features eminent Bulgarian scholars. Part of them will present their papers at the conference. The following scholars have been invited:
Antoaneta Koleva Kolyo Koev Pepka Boyadjieva
Boyko Penchev Lilyana Deyanova Raycho Pojarliev
Boyan Manchev Maya Grekova Stilyan Yotov
Darin Tenev Miglena Nikolchina Stefan Popov
Daniela Koleva Miglena Yakimova Todor Hristov
Deyan Deyanov Neli Ognyanova Hristo Todorov
Dimitar Vatsov Ognyan Minchev Boyan Znepolski
Ivan Krastev Petya Kabakchieva Daniel Smilov
The other participants will apply for a paper or a presentation within the thematic areas of the conference, which is open to young scholars and people working in the sphere of the arts (assistant professors, doctoral students, young writers and artists up to 35 years of age) from Sofia University and beyond. The application should include the title/topic of the paper/presentation, a 300-word abstract, and a short bibliography. General topics addressing the abovementioned issues are welcome, but the committee will particularly encourage specific social analyses and case studies, presentations of specific research hypotheses, political programs, artistic works and projects, processes in philosophy, science, and the arts.
The conference will be accompanied by a
DOCTORAL STUDENT SEMINAR
run by the members of the organizing committee. The applicants (PhD students in their second and third year) are invited to present a topic related to their dissertation (the topic need not fall within the thematic areas of the conference, but such proposals will be given priority). The seminar will provide a forum where the particular topics of the doctoral theses will be discussed by experts and peers in a broad interdisciplinary context. Besides, the presenters will have a chance to listen to and participate in the discussions during the sessions and the round tables of the conference.
A limited number of participants will be admitted to the doctoral seminar, and it is only available to Sofia University PhD students. In their proposals, the applicants should make it clear that they are applying for the doctoral seminar.
Application deadline for the doctoral seminar: October 15th 2012.
The application should include a topic from the dissertation, a 300-word abstract, and a letter of reference in which the supervisor should declare that the student’s participation in the conference will give the student credits.