The Dissecting Society II. Social Movement, Literature, Social Science Conference is co-sponsored by the Remarque Institute (NYU) and the Department of Comparative Literature (NYU) and will be held at New York University on April 15-16, 2016.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, due to industrialization, population growth, and rural exodus, the populous cities of Western Europe experienced a novel and fragile state of societal differentiation. Debates on questions such as pauperism, child labor, working conditions, public health, population shifts, and economic change were particularly acute during the 1830s and 1840s, exacerbated by the increasing momentum of workers, socialist, communist, and republican movements.
New forms of media arose together with these social movements and economic changes: illustrated journalism, the serial and the social novel, philanthropic and statistical reports, and "panoramic literature”. One of the major specificities of early nineteenth-century writing was an overlap between literature and journalism. It is within the crossings between the two domains that the art of social observation and representation was refined significantly.
The aim of the conference, a follow-up event to the conference Dissecting Society. Periodical Literature and Social Observation (NYU, March 2015), is to explore the link between cross-media social analysis and social movement, broadly considered. Since most histories about social knowledge are disciplinary tales and take their starting point at the institutionalization of the social sciences at the end of the nineteenth century, the relationship between the increasing mediation of social questions during the first half of the nineteenth century and the rise of sociological, ethnological, and militant social science has rarely been researched. While we privilege the genesis of this question in the 1830s and 1840s in European societies, we welcome proposals from all geographical areas from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century that are concerned with the interconnected history of the social sciences, literature, journalism, and media more generally.
The conference organizers invite the submission of ideas for presentations (20 minutes) or panels and the sharing of work in progress from a variety of disciplines. Topics covered may include:
- The intersections of different formats/frames of knowledge and representation in the representation of societal differentiation (e.g., the processing of statistical data or governmental studies in literature)
- The depiction of lower class representatives/types in relation to current philosophical/political/statistical ideas, as well as the appropriation of this knowledge by the working class
- The involvement of individuals in different social networks and their appropriation of corresponding ways of exploring, representing and evaluating social issues
- The use of ethnographic methods and styles and sociological/scientific concepts in describing social environments and types
- The ideological positions that artists/painters/scientists subscribe to in representing social circumstances and evaluating social differentiation
- The relationships between particular pieces/genres/knowledge formats and contemporary political debates (child labor, public health movements, workers’ movements, etc.)
- Transnational networks between social observers; migrations and adaptations of different forms/ideas of social observation and representation
- Representations of rural/peasant environments (also within urban contexts), the appropriation of "folkoristic” material (songs, tales, sayings) and the connections of writers/painters with folkloristic movements
Please send your abstract (400 words maximum) and a brief biographic statement to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 15. The conference language will be English. You will be notified about your participation by January 31.