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Institute of Advanced Study

No Future


25-27 March 2011

Pemberton Building, Palace Green

From biblical apocalypse to the nihilism of the late nineteenth century, from the Enlightenment invention of progress to the counter-cultures of the late twentieth century, from technological utopianism to contemporary anticipations of environmental catastrophe, western civilization has been consistently transfixed by the figurative potential of the future. This interdisciplinary conference seeks to connect and inter-animate these disparate ways of thinking about the future, while at the same time questioning what it is - other than the preoccupations of the present - that is invoked when we talk about the future.

This conference seeks to stage examination of these themes across the widest possible disciplinary range, inter-animating the discourses and methodologies of critical theory, sociology, history, political theory, philosophy, theology, and human geography. Selected papers from the conference will be published in the form of special issues of appropriate academic journals.

The conference will be structured around keynote addresses by:

  • Mikhail Epstein (Emory University, Atlanta);
  • Jean-Michel Rabaté (University of Pennsylvania);
  • Patricia Waugh (Durham University)

as well as a series of plenary panels on Apocalyptic Futures, Lenin and Futurity, and Bloch and Utopian Futures.

 An open call for papers invites contributions on any aspect of the central theme, with particular emphasis on: Ontologies of the Future; Forms of Utopia; Dystopian Futures; Aesthetics and Technology; Eco-criticism and Ecotopia; Gendered Futures; Transhumanism; Futurism(s); Futures of Freud; Dialectics of the Future; The Future of Theory.

Academic sessions will be based in the Pemberton Lecture Rooms on Palace Green, with delegates housed in the nearby St Chad's College. Participation is open to academics, postgraduates, and independent scholars.