Fragments of Time
An interdisciplinary conference on culture and social change open to all
History, Walter Benjamin wrote, ‘is not homogeneous empty time, but time filled by the presence of the now.’ As such, ‘to articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it “the way it really was”. It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger.’ Written on the run, as Benjamin fled Nazi Germany, he concludes that ‘even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins.’
This sense of history as an archive of fragmented images, ‘blasted out of the continuum of history’ and ‘charged with the present,’ is more than a suggestive depiction. It brings us to the heart of the question of how political struggle and oppression are encoded in our relation to the past, and to the future. Yet, the startling and elliptical language Benjamin employs, as well as the constant emphasis upon time’s appearance as an ‘image’, also brings into question the relation between art and our perception of past and future time. Perhaps art is not simply a metaphor, for Benjamin, but is one of the key forms in which time crystallizes? How do literature, the visual arts, film and other cultural practices defamiliarize, transform or charge with meaning our perceptions of the past, the present and the future – and of time itself?
It is with these questions in mind that we issue a call for papers for a conference under the title ‘Fragments of Time’. We hope to produce an inclusive and exploratory cultural enquiry into subjects including, but not limited to:
Representing and narrating time — culture and social change — the visionary: desires, fantasies and dreams — the modern, the anti-modern, the postmodern — culture and technology — cultural renewal, stagnation, decline — crisis, eschatology and the messianic — time and subjectivity — modernisation and its Others — forgotten histories, alternative histories — cultural amnesia, repression, collective memory — fragmentation — the Angel of History — alternative worlds, alternative futures — cultural appropriation and ‘usable pasts’ — histories of the discipline, disciplining history — death and technology — genealogies, traces, hauntings — rebels and reactionaries — innovation and experiment.
Abstracts and/or panel suggestions to be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
by 31st July , 2013 — along with any enquiries.
[NB: Do get in touch, even if this deadline has past.]