Saturday, September 11, 2010



The Group for the Study of Early Cultures at the University of California,
Irvine invites submissions for its Third Annual Graduate Student

Friday & Saturday, January 21-22, 2011
Keynote Address by Paul Strohm (Anna Garbedian Professor in the Humanities
at Columbia University)

Our contemporary understanding of interiority is tied to a sense of
domestic life, personal psychology, and the separation of public and
private spheres, all which suggest a model of human existence and
interaction that hinges on the delineation of what is ‘inside.’ This
conference revitalizes notions of the interior in premodern contexts,
ranging from the ancient era, through the medieval and early modern
periods, and into the eighteenth century. We define “interiority” loosely
as any terrain, such as conscience, mind, psyche, soul, or spirit, that
positions itself within a subject. Given this openness, we invite papers
across a variety of disciplines that investigate interiority in any of its
manifestations—literary, historical, visual, dramatic, legal, spiritual,
or philosophical—in early cultures. Fundamentally, we seek to question and
mobilize the borders between the interior and exterior as vital spaces of
containment and definition.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

Religious Interiors: How do the concepts of the sacred and profane hinge
on an inner life? Can spiritual interiors conflict with one another? Do
dream visions and experiences of the sublime affectively challenge the
delineation of the interior?

Interior Bodies: Are interior spaces altered in concert with new
discourses of the body, disease, anatomy, and medical knowledge? Do
seemingly ‘exterior’ changes in consumption practices (food, goods,
clothing) rework internal awareness? How is queerness performed or
experienced within premodern interiority?

Political Interiors: Through what means do royal, national, and local
subjects construct interiorities? Does state power depend on constructing
interiority in its subjects? How do indigenous and colonial tensions
engage with sovereign interiority?

Textual Interiors: Do literary works contain interiorities through the
incorporation of authorial voice, as in memoirs or confessions? Are new
interiorities modified through translation?

Metaphorical Interiors: In what ways do material containers, such as
chambers, closets, or caskets, stand in for psychic interiors? How do
performed scenes gesture to, or create, a sense of interiority in their
spatial configuration?

All interested graduate students, from any university and discipline, are
welcome to submit a one-page abstract on any topic related to the self.
For more information. please visit the conference website at the Group for
the Study of Early Cultures at

Deadline for abstracts: September 15, 2010

Please limit the length of abstracts to no more than 300 words. Send
abstracts and CVs to

The Group for the Study of Early Cultures focuses mainly on fields that
investigate pre-modern societies, including but not limited to: Classics,
Late Antiquity, Medieval Studies, Renaissance Studies, 18th Century
Studies, East Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, and Islamic Studies.
We are also interested in a wide range of disciplinary approaches to Early
Cultures, including literary studies, history, art history, drama, visual
studies, sociology, culture studies, anthropology, political science,
philosophy, and religious studies. For more information about our
organization, please visit our website:

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