16 Mar 202308:00 - 18:00Rooms SG1 & S1, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge

Description

This event falls on a planned University and College Union strike day and has been postponed. Updates will be posted on this page.


Convenors

  • Gabby Colangelo (University of Cambridge)
  • Aaron Muldoon (University of Cambridge)
  • Brooke Nagler (University of Cambridge)

Summary

‘The (im)possibility of queer presentism’ conference and workshop explores what it might mean for contemporary queer culture to adopt ‘presentism’ as a way of both looking at and living in the world. Since its inception in the early 1990s, queer theory (and its predecessor, Gay and Lesbian Studies) has been principally concerned with time. Much work in gay history in the 1980s was singularly occupied with demonstrating that “we have always been here,” while the social constructionist turn heralded a new wave of research concerned with understanding how exactly gender and sexuality have been historically constituted. The HIV/AIDS crisis prompted an urgent movement towards memorialisation and community memory projects. Since then, queer theory has largely stayed true to its founding mottos of “know your history,” and “never forget.”

The aim of this conference and workshop is to encourage participants to think about how an overriding interest in the past might eschew the possibility of understanding queerness in the present. Frequently, the notion of queer presentism is construed as a threat to various projects seen as central to queer identity and community formation (memorialisation, archiving, the reclamation of erased pasts etc). But this often results in teleological historical narratives in which the queer past is read for its ability to create a stable queer present. ‘The (im)possibility of queer presentism’ questions the fixity of this relationship between history and the present.

‘The (im)possibility of queer presentism’ consists of a conference followed by a workshop. The conference comprises two panels of speakers and a keynote address. We welcome proposals for papers for the panels from postgraduates, early career fellows and other junior faculty. The conference will be followed by a collaborative workshop that welcomes participants from a wide range of disciplines to engage in a facilitated discussion, reflecting both on the conference proceedings and participants’ own ideas about queer presentism.

Supported by:

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Please contact us for specific accessibility needs, and we will do our best to accommodate any requests.

Programme

09:00 - 10:15

Panel 1 (Room SG1)

10:15 - 11:30

Panel 2

11:30 - 12:00

Coffee break

12:00 - 13:30

Keynote

13:30 - 14:30

Lunch break

14:30 - 16:00

Workshop (Room S1)

Call for papers

Is it possible to set history aside? What might it mean to live, queerly, in the moment? What creative possibilities might emerge if queerness was neither beholden to the past nor obligated to shape the future? The difficulty of even imagining a queer subject that is neither historically constituted nor implicated in utopian ideals of futurity attests to the importance of thinking outside temporalising paradigms when attempting to understand queerness in the contemporary moment.

‘The (im)possibility of queer presentism’ conference encourages participants to think about how an overriding interest in the past might eschew the possibility of understanding queerness in the present. We welcome papers that explore what it might mean for contemporary queer culture to adopt ‘presentism’ as a way of both looking at and living in the world. Frequently, the notion of queer presentism is positioned as a threat to projects seen as central to queer identity and community formation: memorialisation, archiving, reclamation of erased pasts. We seek work that complicates the binary of ‘forgetting’ or ‘remembering,’ and in doing so destabilises the fixity of the relationship between historicism and the present.

Proposals might ask:

  • What is the public value of presentism?
  • How are historicism and presentism impacted by advances in AI and social networking technologies?
  • What are the potential risks of presentism?
  • Is it possible to construct a presentism that is not merely in opposition to historicism?
  • Are there historical precedents for an embrace of presentism?
  • How might presentism impact the way we understand life-writing and autobiography?

Submission guidelines:

  • Proposal for a 20-minute paper (300 words)
  • Title of paper
  • Short biography (100 words)

Email proposals to Gabby Colangelo by 5 February 2023.

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