"THE SELF AS SCIENTIFIC AND POLITICAL PROJECT IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: A SYMPOSIUM ON THE HUMAN SCIENCES BETWEEN UTOPIA AND REFORM"
Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Penn State University
In recent years, the humanities and social sciences have witnessed a resurgent interest in the development of modern conceptions of individuality, identity, and the self. Scholars from fields such as philosophy, cultural anthropology, gender studies, literary and cultural studies, psychiatry, cultural history, and science and technology studies are among those who have contributed to a growing body of literature on the subject. The results of this research suggest that, while the basic contours of modern personhood were already developed by the late-nineteenth century -- for instance, the idea of a psychology of depth and dynamic conflict, the ideal of an autonomous, creative individual, and the notion that human consciousness is biologically and socially shaped -- the twentieth century placed the individual front and center in public discourse in an historically peculiar way. During this time, human subjectivity became deliberately politicized, as questions about identity and the intra- and interpersonal workings of individuals were invariably caught up in the three major ideologies of the twentieth century: fascism, communism, and liberalism. At the same time, technology and the human sciences (biology, medicine, psychology, criminology, ergonomics, pedagogy, pharmacology, sociology, economics and marketing, engineering, to name a few) were called on to play ever more prominent roles in making human beings visible, understandable, and treatable. This had a direct impact on individuals, who were called on to re-assess, re-narrativize, and plan their lives with often highly politicized goals in mind. In the twentieth century, then, not just society, but personhood itself, became an object of reconstruction in the human sciences of fascist, communist, and liberal polities. In short, the self was treated as and became a political and scientific project.
In order to begin mapping some of the more fruitful lines of investigation into the relationship between politics, science, and subjectivity in the twentieth century, we are convening a symposium and issuing a general call for papers on the theme "The Self as Scientific and Political Project in the Twentieth Century: The Human Sciences Between Utopia and Reform." The symposium will be held October 10-11, 2003 at the University Park campus of Penn State University. In addition to the conference organizers, participants will include John Carson (University of Michigan), Geoffrey Cocks (Albion College), Moritz Foellmer (Humboldt University), David Horn (Ohio State University), Philip Jenkins (Penn State University), Anna Krylova (University of South Carolina), Elizabeth Lunbeck (Princeton University), and Hans Pols (University of Sydney). Papers are welcome that explore some aspect of how any or several of the three major political ideologies of the twentieth century, in tandem with the human sciences, constituted the self as a project. The focus of the conference will be limited to developments in Europe, the Soviet Union, and the United States. Both national and comparative histories are welcome.
Please submit an abstract of no more than 900 words that includes a description of your topic and thesis as well as a statement about the sources upon which your arguments are based by March 10, 2003 via email (both as an attachment and pasted in the email) to the address below.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of the conference organizers below.
Greg Eghigian, Penn State University (email below)
Andreas Killen, Brooklyn College (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Christine Leuenberger, Cornell University (email@example.com)
Dept. of History
108 Weaver Building
Penn State University
University Park, PA 16802
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