Object Emotions, Revisited: An Interdisciplinary Conference
(February 20-21, 2015, New Haven, CT)
Keynote speaker: Spyros Papapetros (Princeton U)
Organizing Committee: Padma Maitland (UC Berkeley); Christopher P. Miller (UC Berkeley); Marta Figlerowicz (Yale U); Ksenia Sidorenko (Yale U); Emma Natalya Stein (Yale U)
“Object Emotions” continues a critical dialogue about new directions in humanities research and theory that began at UC Berkeley in 2013. This conference is inspired by the recent heightened attention to objects and emotions as new points of entry into history, literature, art, architecture, area studies, and the social sciences. We aim to foster interdisciplinary reflections about the critical uses of thing theory, affect theory, the histories of emotions, and new materialism. We also want to study how these discourses might benefit from being set in conversation with each other.
Last year, these questions inspired papers on, among many other topics, forms of animism in fourteenth-century England, the role of tiles in Taiwanese architecture, representations of churches in Willa Cather, oral accounts of labor in factories in India, and the songs of Kylie Minogue. This coming conference seeks to be similarly diverse and experimental in the kinds of approaches it brings together. By exploring emotions and objects in conjunction with each other we hope to bring out the shared stakes of these scopes of critical inquiry, as well as the divergences among the ways feelings and things are studied in particular disciplines.
Questions we want to ask include, but are not limited to, the following: How is the task of describing emotions within the context of a poem different from describing them within the context of a painting, a cathedral, or temple? How do the current fields of affect theory, thing theory, and the history of emotions participate in the much longer history of debates about the subjective and the objective? How do emotions and the bodies experiencing them relate to each other? Are there cultural differences in the way objects and emotions are defined and assessed? What does it mean to attribute feelings to an inanimate object, or even to describe this object as the cause or inspiration of a feeling? Do feelings have an animating force? How does the critical framing of scale—the microscopic, the individual, the human, the social, the global—change the way we pursue questions about objects and emotions?
The conference will take place at Yale on February 20th and 21st, 2015. Participants will include both graduate students and faculty members. We welcome papers that address any of the questions described above, or related ones, with reference to the bodies of theory shared across disciplines or to individual works of literature, art, or architecture. Please submit 250-word abstracts to Padma Maitland at email@example.com by November 15, 2014.