CFP: DECADENCE: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference

DECADENCE: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference

August 15-17, 2014

Dalhousie University

If it is a cliché to speak of one’s own age as decadent, so be it. These are decadent times. Justin Bieber’s car collection and Viktor Yanukovych’s presidential palace fit comfortably in a world where the 85 richest people have accumulated as much wealth as the poorest half of the planet’s population, according to a recent Oxfam study. Such narrowly defined good times cannot roll. This disparity between extreme wealth and poverty expresses the paradox inherent in the term “decadence.”

Although literary critics most commonly associate decadence with nineteenth-century and fin-de-siècle authors such as Baudelaire, the French Symbolists, and Oscar Wilde, this interdisciplinary conference aims to encourage exploration of the ways in which this term can be effectively applied to a variety of historical and contemporary subjects, periods, or politics. It seems clear that the various manifestations of decadence could never—and cannot now—be articulated, illustrated, or even imagined independently of a particular complex of cultural, moral, or socio-political conditions.  But how does decadence figure into other disciplines? What does decadence look like in the twenty-first century? Are exquisite excesses inevitable, or even necessary?

The Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students in English (DAGSE) invites submissions for paper presentations for “Decadence: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference.” We welcome proposals from students at all levels and in all areas of graduate study. This three-day conference will be held August 15-17, 2014 at Dalhousie University, located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and will investigate the symptoms and effects of decadence as a literary, artistic, historical, and socio-cultural phenomenon.

We invite proposals for papers (15-20 minutes) on themes and subjects including, but not limited to:

  • Neoliberalism: patterns of production and consumption
  • Decadence and the Ivory Tower
  • Sexuality and gender; hypersexuality and erotomania
  • Aestheticism, Symbolism, and fin-de-siècle literature
  • Decadence abroad: the French Decadents, the “Lost Generation,” et al.
  • The Dandy, the flâneur, the bon viveur: decadence and self-fashioning
  • Aristocratic and political excesses
  • Physical, aesthetic, or intellectual pleasures
  • Health and Fitness, HGH, plastic surgery, and biohacking

Deadline for abstracts: April 25, 2014

Abstract length: 250-words

Please send abstracts to:

Full posting and submission requirements at the conference website.

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