Contamination: Adoptions, Influences, and Intrusions Across Textual Lines

Country: USA

City: Fullerton

Abstr. due: 13.01.2018

Dates: 23.03.18 — 24.03.18

Area Of Sciences: Humanities;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: California State University


This conference seeks to construct a diverse understanding of the thematic, textual, ideological, and theoretical modalities of “contamination.” In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates discusses the event of death as a separation between body and soul, implicating the body as an impediment in one’s search for truth, as it “fills us with wants, desires, fears, all sorts of illusion and nonsense so that, as it is said, in truth and in fact no thought of any kind ever comes to us from the body” (66c). Socrates treats the body as a site which is inherently contaminated by bodily pleasures, thereby locating the only means of “purification” in death; the ultimate separation from the corruptible body.Following the Platonic tradition of a “pure” form or state of being, Jacques Derrida complicates the notion of “contamination” as a site which presupposes two clearly demarcated and separated poles. Rather, he contends that no concept or reality can ever be truly “pure,” as one concept will always “infect” the other.

 “Contamination,” as a concept, denotes the transference of one agent into or upon another, changing the composition, form, or conception of the original or combined bodies beyond their former iterations. The notion of “contamination” lends itself to various connotations from the more innocuous “blending,” to the more insidious “defiling,” “infecting,” or “polluting.” However, the infecting quality of contamination can also become a moment of transformative potential, wherein a text, a literal or metaphorical body, a cultural artifact, or even a concept may be destabilized, changed, or re-contextualized, resulting in a different, possibly more nuanced or complicated form.

Ultimately, for this year’s conference we are looking for academic and creative presentations that explore “contamination” in relation to a variety of different questions, contexts, or disciplines. Some overarching questions our conference aims to address are: How and why does contamination occur in visual and literary texts? And in what ways can one genre, text, form, or idea contaminate another?

Topics may include, but are not limited to considerations of:

·                 Representations of Disease, Illness, and Pathology

·                 Rethinking Conventions of Texts, Forms, and Genres

·                 Trauma, Haunting, and Memories as Contamination

·                 Destabilizations of Identity, Gender, Sexuality, and Race

·                 Postcoloniality, Borders, and Ecological Pollution

·                 Technology, Art, and Media as Contaminants

Conference Web-Site: