CFP: Minding the Body: Dualism and Its Discontents

CFP: Minding the Body: Dualism and Its Discontents


CFP: Minding the Body: Dualism and Its Discontents


2013 ESA Conference – Minding the Body: Dualism and Its Discontents

Hosted by our own GC English Department Student Association

The Graduate Center – The City University of New York – Friday, March 1, 2013


Please submit 250-500 word abstracts by January 7, 2013.


“The BRAIN—is wider than the sky—”

-Emily Dickinson

The turn towards the influence of affect and emotions on “rational decision making”—the false separation between mind and body that neuroscientist Antonio Damasio calls “Descartes’ Error”—has had wide appeal in recent years in the humanities and other fields. This conference intends to explore the theoretical frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship that addresses the mind-body problem. How can we continue to think about mind-body relations, connections, or disruptions in new ways across disciplinary boundaries? How can recent work in the humanities on affect and emotions speak to other fields? What are the limitations of theories of affect? What might neuroscience offer to other disciplines for thinking about mind, consciousness, and embodiment? How can we consider the recent explosion of interest and attention—enthusiastic to bleak—on the possible effects that the Internet, technology, and increasingly digital lives are having on the connections or fractures between mind, body, and identity? How might we theorize mind and body in other ways—inter-personally, inter-subjectively, trans-personally, ethically—in material, social, and digital ways?

We invite interdisciplinary approaches to rethinking Cartesian dualism, including forms of dialogue between, but not limited to, neuroscience, affect theory, narratology, psychoanalysis, medicine, technology studies, cybernetics, and cognitive science. We encourage interrogation of disciplinary boundaries. Papers might be literary and humanities focused, or might also consider other perspectives on mind and body from the sciences, visual arts, philosophy, social sciences, and digital studies. We solicit, and would like to include, the widest possible range of approaches to ways of thinking about “minding the body” in all literary fields: pre-digital, pre-neuroscientic,  pre-psychoanalytic, phenomenological, aesthetic, cognitive, historical, experimental, and in or about other media.


Please submit 250-500 word abstracts by January 7, 2013.

Possible conference papers might consider but are not limited to:

Neuroscience: neuroscience and emotions; theories of consciousness; brain-based epistemology; plasticity; mirror neurons; reading the brain–neuroimaging and mapping

Fiction and Reading: novelizing the body; the novel as body, the body as novel; identification (possibilities for and limitations or problems with); reading and theory of mind

Digital Revolution: the brain on the Internet; virtual bodies—avatars, learning to use new bodies; virtual death; online immortality; consciousness and connectivity; thinking and attention; emotions, empathy, and robots/androids with feelings; outsourcing memory; simulation and spacialization; games and multiple lives, bodies, and narratives; networked bodies, distributed mind, and affect transference; ambient intimacy; multimodal pedagogy and learning (embodiment, experience, agency); nostalgia for the body; interfaces, usability, and interactivity; war and digital technology; global consciousness, collective intelligence, synchronization of mind; humanism and posthumanism; Turing Test; artificial intelligence; technology and the environment; synthetics/robotics; history of technology and extension of mind or body

Psychoanalysis: the Freudian body; bodies on the couch; psychoanalysis after Freud; object relations; attachment theory and self-other differentiation; inter-subjective and relational perspectives; forms of listening; mindfulness; recognition; objectification; drifting attention; impersonal intimacy (Leo Bersani); the “cure;” melancholia, productive malaise, and happiness studies; resiliency; dissociation, detachment, depression; trauma and PTSD; neuropsychology; neuropsychoanalysis

Philosophical and Theoretical Perspectives: theories of affect and emotions; process philosophy and empiricism (James, Bergson, Whitehead); emergence and evolution; philosophy of mind, boundaries, and embodiment; cybernetics (Tomkins, Bateson, Hayles);  Eve Sedgwick and her work on affect, analysis, Tomkins, and the body; ghost in the machine; empiricism and consciousness; mind extension; materialism and dualism/non-dualism; zombies; thinking or locating souls (feedback loops)

Non-western Perspectives: on mind-body connections, illness, or therapy; Buddhism and “thoughts without a thinker;” active-passive bodies and non-dualism

Isolated bodies: memoir/narrative accounts of bodies in retreat, in seclusion, in incarceration; thinking and silence

Medicine/Medical: memoir, autobiography, and the body; writing the embodied self; illness; narrative and neuroscience; pharmacology/better living through chemistry; addiction(s); chart histories (multiple narratives); pain management (or, tell me where it hurts); attention and listening–good doctor/bad doctor; being a patient, “difficult” patients; bioethics; contact, empathy, or identification; the communicating body–how the body speaks; body-relatedness; healing; transfusions and transplants—organs and faces; plastic surgery and body modification; cutting to cure; trauma and the body—wounded bodies/minds; neuronal rewiring; artificial limbs; psychosomatic symptoms; hypochondria; body dysmorphia; scars; phantom limb syndrome; memory disruption/degenerative disorders; narrative, memory and the body; twins, triplets…octuplets; conjoined twins

Sex, Sexuality, Gender: trans-bodies; gender reassignment; desiring bodies; boundaries; perversion and projection; sadism and masochism; obsessions and fetishes; fetish gear or practice; voyeurism and exhibitionism; technology—sexuality, gender identification, identity.

Performance and Collaboration: art practices–identification or unification with other(s) through performance or surgical procedure; performance art and endurance, pain, boredom, stillness, slowness; form and incoherency: non-verbal forms of representation or work on mind/embodiment in other media, including visual and performing arts; literary experimentation–the “cut up” (Burroughs, Gysin and the “Third Mind”), etc.

Physical Research: somatic disciplines (Alexander, ideokinesis, Feldenkreis, Body Mind Centering, etc.), durational performance, experiential anatomy, experiential/embodied pedagogies.

Early Modern Bodies: earlier perspectives–thinking about the mind-body problem: before the Internet; before pacemakers; before Freud; before Darwin; before vaccination; before the microscope; historian Roy Porter’s work on the “modern foundations of body and soul” and histories of medicine and madness

Other: disciplinary boundaries; the imagination and the body; body politic, collective minds, loss of mind, group identification (sports, cults, and communes; the Borg); Dick Cheney has a new heart, etc.