Thursday, July 22, 2010

Third Annual Graduate Student Conference in Early Cultures, "Interiority"

The Group for the Study of Early Cultures at the University of California, Irvine invites submissions for its Third Annual Graduate Student Conference:

Friday & Saturday, January 21-22, 2011
Keynote Address by Paul Strohm (Anna Garbedian Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University)
Our contemporary understanding of interiority is tied to a sense of domestic life, personal psychology, and the separation of public and private spheres, all which suggest a model of human existence and interaction that hinges on the delineation of what is ‘inside.’ This conference revitalizes notions of the interior in premodern contexts, ranging from the ancient era, through the medieval and early modern periods, and into the eighteenth century. We define “interiority” loosely as any terrain, such as conscience, mind, psyche, soul, or spirit, that positions itself within a subject. Given this openness, we invite papers across a variety of disciplines that investigate interiority in any of its manifestations—literary, historical, visual, dramatic, legal, spiritual, or philosophical—in early cultures. Fundamentally, we seek to question and mobilize the borders between the interior and exterior as vital spaces of containment and definition.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
Religious Interiors: How do the concepts of the sacred and profane hinge on an inner life? Can spiritual interiors conflict with one another? Do dream visions and experiences of the sublime affectively challenge the delineation of the interior?

Interior Bodies: Are interior spaces altered in concert with new discourses of the body, disease, anatomy, and medical knowledge? Do seemingly ‘exterior’ changes in consumption practices (food, goods, clothing) rework internal awareness? How is queerness performed or experienced within premodern interiority?
Political Interiors: Through what means do royal, national, and local subjects construct interiorities? Does state power depend on constructing interiority in its subjects? How do indigenous and colonial tensions engage with sovereign interiority?

Textual Interiors: Do literary works contain interiorities through the incorporation of authorial voice, as in memoirs or confessions? Are new interiorities modified through translation?
Metaphorical Interiors: In what ways do material containers, such as chambers, closets, or caskets, stand in for psychic interiors? How do performed scenes gesture to, or create, a sense of interiority in their spatial configuration?

All interested graduate students, from any university and discipline, are welcome to submit a one-page abstract on any topic related to the self. For more information please visit the conference website at the Group for the Study of Early Cultures at
Deadline for abstracts: September 15, 2010

Please limit the length of abstracts to no more than 300 words. Send abstracts and CVs to

The Group for the Study of Early Cultures focuses mainly on fields that investigate pre-modern societies, including but not limited to: Classics, Late Antiquity, Medieval Studies, Renaissance Studies, 18th Century Studies, East Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, and Islamic Studies. We are also interested in a wide range of disciplinary approaches to Early Cultures, including literary studies, history, art history, drama, visual studies, sociology, culture studies, anthropology, political science, philosophy, and religious studies. For more information about our organization, please visit our website: