Friday, December 31, 2010

Philosophy and the Arts Conference

Call for Papers and Artwork
Fourth Annual Philosophy and the Arts Conference
at Stony Brook Manhattan
April 1-2, 2011

Keynote Speaker – Kaja Silverman

The Masters program in Philosophy and the Arts at Stony Brook University in Manhattan centers on intersections of art and philosophy. In an effort to encourage dialogue across disciplines, we offer this conference as an interdisciplinary event and welcome participants working in a variety of fields and media to respond to this year’s topic.

2011 Theme: Redemption

Between the familiar extremes of redeeming oneself (as in the eyes of God, or a friend) and of redeeming a coupon, the term redemption shoulders a rich range of expressive possibilities. Each sense reveals an aspect of the event of exchange of one thing, condition, or meaning for another. “Redemption” may express conversion, salvage, ransom, reparation, purchase, or liberation, and these definitions all vary in their economic, ontological, and hermeneutical hefts.

Redemption evokes both the threat of and promise inherent in the experience of loss, for it never hides the sense or the scene of destruction accompanying potential rescue. The agon(y) of the exchange is often chaotic. In the collapse, fracture, or jettison of what has been, one finds the prospect of a more radical openness to and correspondence with what approaches, whether in the guise of the foreign or familiar. We commonly understand “redemption” religiously, associating with it sacrifice and atonement, senses which render redemption indissociable from its preceding, fallen, state, and indissociable from the cathartic event in which the individual is finally recreated and restored in an act of reappropriation. Redemption, therefore, evokes the power of transformation and maturation mingled with mourning, indicates the continual possibility for the development of creative ways of being in the world, and signals a recovery, reinterpretation, and reshaping of pieces of what has fallen apart.

A number of artistic techniques, including bricolage, are well suited to challenging the fixity of economic value through the use of discarded or commonplace materials in the creation of a work. Bricolage redemptively gathers signs and commodities that have economic directionality and frees them through creative re- contextualization. In French, se racheter is the analog for the English: to redeem oneself, but it more literally translates: to buy one’s self back. While the history of art is fraught with religious themes of redemption, much contemporary art has focused on social and economic questions concerning the exchange and value of goods. What kind of exchange is it in which one salvages something of one’s own or discovers one’s own self anew? From who or what might one buy oneself back? From and to where does one return?

In the midst of these – and other – questions our conference begins. What constitutes being in a state from which one would want to be redeemed? How might one explain the ontological significance of redemption? In what ways is the act of creation itself a redemptive, cathartic, or therapeutic act? How does art that deals with redemption reflect tensions between theological and secular significations? What role does reparation – the reconciliation of disparate elements, and the balance between destruction and construction – play in art and creative thought broadly construed?

We welcome the submission both of original academic papers and of artwork for exhibition or performance from graduate students across disciplines. All submissions should be formatted for blind review, and suitable for a 20-minute presentation (approximately 3000 words or 8-11 pages). Please visit the Philosophy and the Arts Conference website at for complete submission instructions, as well as information on past conferences and regular updates.

All submissions must be received by January 13th, 2011. Submitters will be notified of the committee’s decision regarding their work via email no later than February 7th, 2011. The conference will take place at Stony Brook Manhattan, 387 Park Ave. South. Feel free to contact the conference coordinators for help with additional questions at

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