NSU Popmodernism CFP: “Bodies and Mediality”


Vintersymposium: Call For Papers

Inlagd i november 2012

Vintersymposium – call for papers

Winter symposium, March 15-17, 2013, Turku, Finland

Bodies and Mediality

Within the theoretical discourses of the last decade “the body” is much discussed. At the same time we can see that huge parts of the twentieth century artistic production worked hard not to think the body: twelve-tone music, diverse literary practices, movements towards abstraction in the visual arts, all these were understood as cerebral activities far away from the human body, whereas other cultural expressions had the body at its forefront; the invention of modern ballet on the one side, popular music and sports on the other. In diverse forms of rereading twentieth century culture, “the body” also appears within the ways of reading gender and sexual difference, racial differences and ethnicity.

Another key feature of the twentieth century’s cultural landscape is the increased focus on mediality, both as a way of understanding the diverse media brought into existence and their cultural impact, but also as ways of understanding transmissions of cultural artifacts, from local to global, between the events and their reproduction.

Bodies and mediality intersect in the sensorial apparatus, where the skin works as an interface between the human being and her or his surroundings. In this sense, media becomes extensions of the human body (as both Sigmund Freud and Marshall McLuhan in their different ways suggested), meaning simultaneously that current developments within media studies can be used in establishing a posthuman anthropology. The new media (digital, virtual, 2nd life) reopens the question of “man,” and establishes “new” bodies.

In the opening pages of William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984) we read:
“For Case, who’d lived for the bodiless exultation of cyberspace, it was the Fall. In the bars he’d frequented as a cowboy hotshot, the elite stance involved a certain relaxed contempt for the flesh. The body was meat. Case fell into the prison of his own flesh.”
This novel is also where the term “cyberspace” was first used, and it might thus function as one possible entry point to understanding today’s media-culture.

Another possible entry point is aesthetic surgery, where constructing beautiful bodies were once the ideal, but where the ideals of beauty surly has changed over time. In today’s popular culture both the surgery of actual bodies and the mediatized “surgery” of Photoshop contributes to today’s body-ideals, while simultaneously raising the question whether there today can be such a thing as a un-mediated body.

Yet another entry point would be how cybernetics and other theoretical approaches are found within popular culture, such as The Terminator (1984). The Terminator, as a cyborg, arguably feed our cultural fantasies, also about science, and thus opens up for negotiations between popular culture and scientific research, where technology and bodies interact.

In this seminar the main focus will be on the intersections between bodies and mediality. How can today’s mediatized society teach us something about the past? Different intersections throughout the twentieth century (and, of course, before that) might demonstrate different possible futures – and pasts – but might also show how artistic expressions have participated in these different developments.

Abstracts are invited on all possible topics of bodies and mediality – primarily in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries – related to pop, modernism, and their intersections.

Send abstracts – 300 words – to the coordinators by December 1st.



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