The 2017 Virginia Humanities Conference (VHC) at Shenandoah University, to be held Friday, April 7, and Saturday, April 8, explores the unbearable within the humanities. Sponsored by the university’s College of Arts & Sciences, this conference examines the concept of that which cannot be endured or tolerated—with scholars, activists, and students from a wide variety of disciplines and institutions.
VHC 2017 examines how and what kinds of knowledge the humanities produce that existing structures cannot bear; how and why approaches to this unbearableness that are grounded in the humanities are met with resistance; and, finally, how those in the humanities value, make use of, and respond to contemporary, and sometimes unbearable, issues.
“I am thrilled that Shenandoah University has the opportunity to host this year’s Virginia Humanities Conference,” said Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Jeff Coker, Ph.D. “We have a great number of diverse and interesting panel sessions for those attending, and those on the panels not only represent our fellow Virginia academic institutions, but institutions and organizations from across the country and around the world as well.”
Two events which are free and open to the public are associated with the conference.
- Pressures of the Unbearable: A Critical Conversation, a keynote address given by Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman, is held from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, April 7, in Halpin-Harrison Hall, Stimpson Auditorium. Berlant, the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Chicago, and Edelman, the Fletcher Professor of English Literature at Tufts University, are co-authors of “Sex, or the Unbearable” (2014). Read more about the keynote speakers below.
- Can the 21st Century America Bear the Humanities?, a humanities panel discussion, is held from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 8, in Henkel Hall, Hester Auditorium; moderated by Dr. Coker. Participants include: David Bearinger, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities; Robert Ehrenreich, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; David Smith, Department of History, Baylor University; and Robert Townsend, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Those wishing to attend the full conference should visit vahumanitiesconference.org to register. Register by Tuesday, March 28, to avoid a late registration fee. For more information, contact the President of VHC 2017 and Shenandoah University Director of Gender & Women’s Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature Petra Schweitzer, Ph.D., at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540/545-7380.
Keynote Speaker Bios:
Lauren Berlant, Ph.D., is the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Chicago. Her most recent books are “Cruel Optimism” (2011) and, with Lee Edelman, ”Sex, or the Unbearable” (2014). Through Critical Inquiry – a journal of art, culture and politics, published by the University of Chicago – she has also recently co-edited ”Comedy, An Issue,” with Sianne Ngai (2017). Her national sentimentality trilogy, “The Anatomy of National Fantasy” (1991), “The Queen of America Goes to Washington City” (1997), and “The Female Complaint” (2008) is accompanied by edited volumes such as “Intimacy” (2000); “Our Monica, Ourselves: The Clinton Affair and the National Interest” (2001); “Compassion: the Culture and Politics of an Emotion” (2004); and “On the Case” (Critical Inquiry, 2007). She blogs at Supervalent Thought and is also a founding member of the art activist group Feel Tank Chicago.
Lee Edelman, Ph.D., is the Fletcher Professor of English Literature at Tufts University. He has published widely in the areas of film, literature, sexuality studies, and critical theory, and is the author of ”Transmemberment of Song: Hart Crane’s Anatomies of Rhetoric and Desire” (1987), “Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory” (1994), “No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive” (2004), “L’impossible homosexuel: Huit essais de théorie queer,” and, with Lauren Berlant, “Sex, or the Unbearable” (2014). His writings, which have been translated into French, Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish, Turkish, Japanese, Hebrew, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian, have been influential both inside and outside the academy, serving as the basis, among other things, for work by lesbian punk bands, avant-garde filmmakers, painters, and performance artists. He is a member of the editorial board of Signs and, along with Lauren Berlant, he is co-editor of the series, Theory Q, for Duke University Press. He is currently completing a book with the working title, “Bad Education: Why Queerness Teaches Us Nothing.”
Additional Panel Information: (a full conference program can be found here)
Friday, April 7, 2017
8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
I. Unbearable Us: Mythic Mirrors of Our Ugly Selves
II. Narrating the Unbearable
III. The Unbearable Gothic
IV. Unexpected Utterings in Antebellum America
9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
I. Feminism, Resistance, and the Unbearable
II. The Self and the Other: Subjectivity, Othering, and Otherness
III. Dystopian Narratives
IV. The Unbearable in Ethnic and Cultural Studies
11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
I. Free Speech in Contemporary Society
II. Unbearable Mothers: Ambiguous Parental Identities in Global Cinema and Literature
III. Unbearable Health
IV. Science, Society, and Meditation (This panel is followed by a Heartfulness Meditation from 12:15 p.m. to 12:35 p.m.; the meditation is free and open to all.)
1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
I. Genocide and Trauma
II. The Unbearable Curricula: Working Toward Curricular Cohesion in the 21st Century Academy
III. Confronting the Unbearable through Pedagogy
IV. Art and Space: Mediating the Unbearable
3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
I. Confronting the Unbearable Through Writing
II. Shenandoah University Health Humanities Initiative: An Interdisciplinary Discussion
III. Religion and the Unbearable
IV. Theory, Melancholy, and the Uncanny
Saturday, April 8, 2017
8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
I. South American Narratives
II. Rape and Sexual Violence
III. Differences and Unbearability: Thinking the Unbearability of Femininity
9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
I. Differences and Unbearability: Thinking Unbearability and Blackness
II. Environmental and Governmental Protest
III. Unbearable Immigration
IV. Unexpected Utterings in Contemporary America
1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
I. Uncertainty, Difference, and the Digital
II. Queer Discourses
III. New Approximations to the Unbearable: Maternity
IV. The Unbearable in Television and Pop Culture
2:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
I. Musical Resistance to the Unbearableness of Oppression: Case Studies in Ukraine, Chile, and South Africa
II. Contemporary Events and Social Movements, Part I
III. Populist Rhetoric, Native American Identities, and Social Protest
IV. Contemporary Events and Social Movements, Part II
5 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
II. Contemporary Events and Social Movements, Part III
III. Ambiguous Identities as Key Category in the Global Humanities