CFP: Outside the Frame of Theory

Submission deadline: April 25, 2017

Conference date(s):
June 23, 2017 - June 24, 2017

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Conference Venue:

University of Freiburg
Freiburg, Germany

Topic areas


In the middle of the 20th century, Heidegger famously acknowledged that the age of systematic philosophy has come to an end. In critical theory, the same bell has been prematurely tolling for the past few decades. The decline of theory in the 1990s started not long after the age of high theory in the preceding two decades. Since then, philosophers and literary scholars have been discussing the “end of theory”—some celebrating it, some lamenting it, and others denying it. Jonathan Culler begins his book, The Literary in Theory with: “Theory is dead, we are told.” While there seems to be a consensus building that the dominance of theory is waning, the popularity of theorizing the end of theory within academia can itself be taken as a sign that theory has not quite left us yet. Titles such as Theory after Theory, What is Left of Theory, and After Theory denote this trend. Nevertheless, the age of systematic theory—at least its monolithic purchase upon the intellectual world—has passed its peak. The aim of this conference is to explore the avenues that this rupture opens. One definite trend that can be observed is an enthusiasm for an Aristotelian turn to the “work” itself, following the Platonizing moralism of ‘theory’. Rita Felski’s Limits of Critique is an example of this growing tendency. Whether by close-reading, ekphrasis, or hermeneutics, there is a powerful inclination to return art to a place of centrality in literary analysis. The purpose of this conference is to explore the opportunities for new ideas of engagement—whether by resurrecting older modes of reading or by adopting new modes—that this uniquely uncertain moment facilitates.

Send us ( your abstracts (250-500 words) and a short biography (100 words) or CV by 25 April, at the latest.

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