Call for Papers

*Sensing Senses: Interdisciplinary Studies in Sensory Perception*

A Graduate Conference Hosted by the German & Scandinavian Studies Program,
Languages, Literatures & Cultures Dept.
 / University of Massachusetts,
February 17 - 19, 2012

Keynote Speaker: Florence Feiereisen (Middlebury College)

At the mention of senses, one thinks of five capabilities used to gather
data about one’s environment.  This Aristotelian paradigm has dominated
Western civilization long enough to establish itself as a truism among many
scholars without, as anthropologist David Howe reminds us, “exploring how
the senses interact with each other in different combinations and
hierarchies.”  Recent research in the social sciences and humanities has
revealed an increasingly rhizomatic view of sensual worlds, in that the
synaesthetic experience has become the norm: colors in film recall tastes,
music conveys a sense of acceleration, the eye is fooled into feeling
spaces, and so forth.

But to sense is also to act upon.  Senses inculcate subjectivities, secure
or rebel against social realities, and/or produce notoriously unreliable
testimony at legal proceedings.  They can be colonized and overloaded,
blinded or corrupted, even opened, enticed and remotely enabled.  But above
all, they are to be historicized, located in the social context and bodies
they inhabit or once inhabited.

The fifth biennial graduate student conference in German & Scandinavian
Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst invites interdisciplinary
paper submissions on the broad topic of the “senses” with an emphasis on
framing sites of perception as historically and culturally specific.  To
medieval scholars, one might ask how sensory experience inflected secular
and spiritual worlds.  To modern scholars, one could continue this line of
thinking in terms of the embodied sensory apparatus of industrial producers
and consumers.
To those embarking on digital humanities projects, the
relationship between empirical observation and the abstract metrics of the
attention economy raises epistemological concerns. All of this work can be
placed in dialog with transnational flows as well as asymmetrical power
dynamics that have persisted throughout history, and which become the sites
of discursive positioning about what can and cannot be sensed.

As “sense” is being seen within a broad context, we welcome paper proposals
addressing a variety of themes for an interdisciplinary
discussion of the
above questions and more.  The field of interest includes, but is not
limited to, the following topics:

--the tension between “sense” as perception / knowledge / meaning
--Sinnlosigkeit, meningslösheten, senselessness

--sensing culture & race
--sense and gender

--social regulation of perception via fashion and architecture

--food studies

--sensory overload
--affect and remote viewing

--functions of marginalized senses such as equilibrioception (balance) or
olfacception (smell)
--attention economies past, present and future

--socio-political positioning via thick description
--sound and
audioception in other media

--re-evaluations of philosophers such as Hans-Georg Gadamer or Ernst Mach

Please e-mail attached proposals of no more than 300 words along with a
short biographical paragraph to [log in to unmask] by *November 28, 2011.*

Some travel support may be available.  Participants are encouraged to seek
funding for travel within their departments or from outside sources.  Please
inform us of your financial situation ahead of time and how we might best
accommodate your needs.

More detailed information about the conference can be found on our

Evan Torner, M.A.
Ph.D. Candidate, German Studies / Film Studies
Program Assistant, UMass European Film Center Exploratory Committee
University of Massachusetts Amherst

The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor:  Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
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