Reading the Body in Contemporary Culture:
A Multi-disciplinary Graduate Student Conference
The Art Gallery, The University of Maryland, College Park

Call for Participation:

Few would contest the statement that the body has become a very complicated thing in the twenty-first century. The way that we understand the limits and capabilities of our bodies has been immeasurably influenced by the constantly shifting landscape of science and technology, creating aftershocks that indelibly modify our daily patterns and interactions. Paralleling the conceptual shift that occurred at the turn of the twentieth century as ideas of the body were radically revised due to innovations such as the X-Ray, photographic motion studies, and Freudian psychoanalysis; the body at the turn of the twenty-first century has been similarly redefined due to the birth of virtual worlds such as The Sims and Second Life, the increasing affordability and accessibility of technology, and the rise of online social networking. While we are perhaps more “connected” to others than ever before, there are those who bemoan the virtual nature of these connections and call for a return to physical interconnectedness and awareness. While refusing to take a stand vis-à-vis the “right way” to occupy the bodies we live in, the organizers of this conference hope to provide a forum in which we can explore both new and reconsidered ways that people are harnessing the body to communicate with others and mediate our contemporary experience in the world.

Possible topics include (but are by no means limited to):

Technological modifications to the body, Body as communicative interface, Religious concepts of the human body, Redefining the originary state of the body, Performative bodies in the 21st century, Virtual bodies, Embodying objects, Body language in the 21st century


Program of Events:

  • Dance premiere by butoh choreographer Naoko Maeshiba accompanied by electronica musician Yoko Kamitani on Friday, April 22
  • Keynote lecture by photographer Ryoko Suzuki following the performance on April 22
  • Panel sessions throughout the day on Saturday, April 23
  • Closing reception following panel sessions on April 23
  • Movement workshop led by Naoko Maeshiba on Sunday, April 24 (limited number of participants – requires pre-registration)

Guidelines for Submission:

We invite submissions from graduate students in all academic disciplines in the form of academic papers or creative presentations (including, but not limited to, creative writing, fine art, and dance). All submissions should be made in the form of an abstract of no more than 500 words and should be accompanied by the applicant’s CV.

Deadline for submissions is March 1, 2011.

Applicants will be notified of acceptance by March 20, 2011.

Please email submissions and/or inquiries to conference co-chairs Betsy Johnson and Megan Rook-Koepsel at edorris[at]umd[dot]edu

This conference is organized in conjunction with the exhibition “Modernity Stripped Bare: Undressing the Nude in Contemporary Japanese Photography,” March 16-April 23, 2011, The Art Gallery, The University of Maryland, College Park.