CFP: Brooklyn College Graduate Conference and Journal

The Brooklyn College Graduate English Committee announces their 6th annual Graduate English Conference, “The Open I”.

The conference is to be held on Saturday April 13. Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and cultural critic, will join us to deliver a keynote address. Any inquiries can be directed to

Brooklyn College is also starting up a new journal, Humanity Now. The Call for Papers for our first issue is also attached.

Abstract submissions for both the conference and the journal are due February 1, 2013.


The Open I: Decoding Exposure

Sixth Annual Brooklyn College Graduate English Conference

April 13, 2013

Keynote: Wayne Koestenbaum, Distinguished Professor of English, CUNY Graduate Center

“Instant communication mechanisms are especially gifted at spreading humiliation’s toxic cloud. Does virtual communication make desubjectification easy? The same could have been said about the telephone or the telegraph. Or the typewriter.”  – Wayne Koestenbaum, Humiliation

“The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture”  – Roland Barthes, Death of the Author

Social media has reinvented the contemporary citizen. The open I is a body straddling multiple planes of existence, as strands of DNA are replaced with streams of data, multiplying selves as new codes for communication are created with each click, like and link. Like Barthes’ tissue of quotations, the social media outlet is infinitely diverse but inescapably singular, perpetually informing and constraining incidences of original voice. The spontaneous development of the digital panopticon has redefined boundaries of exposure and interiority, observer and observed. The public and private self has converged, with aliases informing identity. The reach of the lens has become so expansive it has nearly rendered itself invisible, with surveillance becoming an integral facet of millennial life. What questions does the open I raise in regards to exposure and individuality in an age of technological supplication?

The Open I: Decoding Exposure seeks to explore the ramifications of the transformation of the contemporary social milieu. We invite submissions from all, including but not limited to literary studies of authors, texts and genres.

Possible topics may include the following:

  • Blogging Autobiography
  • #TwitLit: Narrative in 140 characters or less
  • Hash Tags and Eco’s Theory of Metaphor
  • Scanning, the New Reading
  • Youtube and the New Celebrity
  • Media and the Millennials: Reality Blurred
  • Image, Music, Text: Presentations of Self
  • Humiliation as Spectator Sport
  • Boundary Crossing: Transnational Communication on the Web
  • LiveStreaming: Protest and Digital Surveillance
  • Memory, Memoir & Technology
  • Gender & Digital Identity as Performance
  • Intellectual Freedom and Other Dangerous Ideas
  • The Future Canon: We Will Know When We Get There
  • Open Access
  • E-readers, Apps and iPhones: Redefining Voice
  • Beyond New Wave Cinema
  • Queer Identity and the Digital Sphere
  • Photography and Culture
  • Dystopian Literature and Systems of Control
  • Simulated Realities
  • Language and Digital Communications
  • Digital Technology and Cognitive Functions
  • Illustrating Identity: Beyond Comix
  • Reconstruction of Metanarratives
  • Towards a “Unified Ratio Among the Senses”
  • From Missed Connections to Adult Services: Trade and Traffic
  • Disembodiment and Identity Politics
  • Caricatures and Social Media Selves
  • The Fragmentation of the Self and Discourse
  • Oversharing and Overexposure

Abstracts of no more than 300 words are due February 1, 2013.  Send them by Word attachment



More Human than Human: 
Transhumanity and Its Extensions

“The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself—not just sporadically, an individual here in one way, an individual there in another way, but in its entirety, as humanity. We need a name for this new belief. Perhaps transhumanism will serve: man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature.” – Julian Huxley, “Transhumanism” (1957)

What does it mean to be human? Some would argue that we are defined by our limitations, that to be human is to be a fallible, mortal entity. But in the light of Julian Huxley’s philosophy, we see the human in the innovation and adaptability that so infiltrates every aspect of our lives. Humanity, it seems, can’t help but improve upon its environment, its society, and its biological situation. Consider fire, perhaps mankind’s first revolutionary technology, which almost immediately enabled our ancestors to advance beyond the basic need to survive. We’ve had no less than three technological revolutions since then: the agricultural, the industrial, and most recently, the informational. The transhumanist would argue not only are we unrestricted by our limitations, but that we have been for quite some time.

Technology extends the human being. It magnifies the senses, amplifies communication, and improves our quality of life in almost every way. To use a current example, cellular technology has done more than just improve interpersonal communication. The cellphone has broadened our awareness with perpetual access to information about our terrain, the weather, local news, and to put it bluntly, the sum total of all human knowledge. How would the Hurricane Sandy relief effort have fared without this cornerstone of modern life? Without cellphones, and the ability to locate victims affected by the storm surge, the death toll would have been much, much higher.

At the same time, our reliance on technology is what crippled many during the storm—infantilizing those who lost power, gas, water, and/or cellular service—revealing that humanity’s dependency comes with a cost. Do our extensions, introduced to circumvent our biological vulnerabilities, instead create new, perhaps more profound, limitations? Should we perhaps take the more traditional point of view which holds the body as sacred, and take these advancements as a threat? Or should we perhaps differentiate between what is luxury and what is necessity as we move forward, ever assessing, as Huxley suggests, those aspects of man which must remain man? What would a future with or without such differentiation look like?

We look forward to submissions which address the topic of transhumanity and its extensions. Please send submissions to by Friday, February 1, 2013. Sample topics include:

·         A New Look at Body Modifications
·         The Future of Technology: Internal or External?
·         Awash in Ideas: The Internet as Hive Mind
·         Left for Dead: The Transhumanist View of Biology
·         God in the Machine, or the New Psychology of Faith
·         The Borders of the Self, Going Forward
·         Yellow Cones and New Colors
·         Life Extension and the Fiction of Mortality
·         Reassessing Emotions: Do We Need Them?
·         A New Humanities for the New Humanity
·         Maximizing Your Basal Ganglia, A Beginner’s Guide
·         The Sense of Immanency in Speculative Fiction
·         Fitter, Happier: Portrayals of Humanity’s Future
·         Soma, South of Man: Huxley Neurochemical Utopia
·         Fictional Memory in Digital Media

About Steve Mentz 712 Articles
I teach Shakespeare and the blue humanities at St. John's in New York City.

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