1st Global Conference
Shapeshifters: Transformations, Hybridity and Identity
Friday 1st November 2013 – Sunday 3rd November 2013
Call for Presentations
This conference seeks to explore the role of the shapeshifter in popular and literary culture. Chantal Bourgault du Coudray notes that ‘an ever- growing body of scholarship utilizes the concept of hybrid or heterogeneous identity. The hybrid identity is theorized and celebrated as a response to the demands of a fragmented, multi- dimensional, postmodern world, one in which shifting boundaries and a multiplicity of subject positions make it impossible to assume a homogeneous or stable subjectivity.’ Theorists such as Katherine Hayles and Donna Haraway discuss the implications of hybridity in the posthuman. Asa Simon Mittman and Peter J. Dendle deal with the monstrosity of hybridity. Many critics discuss iterations of the werewolf in literature and film. However, relatively few scholars have addressed the figure of the shapeshifter other than the werewolf, despite the rising number of shapeshifters appearing in a variety of genres. This conference seeks to address that lack by examining the role of the shapeshifter in culture, including literature, film, television, graphic novels, fan cultures and video games. We are interested in essays dealing with any time period or genre. We welcome contributions from all disciplines.
We invite perspectives that explore the shapeshifter as symbol of identity, hybridity, boundary, or sexuality.
We likewise invite reflections on whether the nature of our tales of shapeshifters tells us anything about who and what we are and where we might be headed. What does it mean to change shape? What problems/issues could arise from such an ability? What concerns are raised about physicality historically, culturally, politically? What about non- human shifters? Ghosts that change form? Individuals that can change into non corporal forms like smoke? Humans that change into other humans? Note that we do not seek to limit the idea of “shapeshifters” to human- to- animal changes such as werewolves; we are interested in the idea of shifting shapes in a variety of contexts.
We encourage scholarly contributions from inter-, multi-, and transdisciplinary perspectives, from practitioners working in all contexts. We will entertain submissions drawn from literature, medicine, politics, social history, film, television, graphic novels and manga, from science to science fiction.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
-Historical medical discourses about shapeshifters
-The monstrosity of shapeshifters
-Freak(s) – of nature; of technology; accidents of birth
-Invading and possessing bodies
-Science fiction: inter- species reproduction: non-human reproduction, hybrids
-Issues of identity: does the shapeshifitng entity share one identity? Are multiple identities cohabitating in one body?
-Issues of body image: to what degree does control of one’s own body tie into the idea of “shapeshifting”? How does the issue of changing shape tie in to plastic surgery? What about eating disorders? To what degree are our identities anchored to our outward appearances; does a change in one affect the other?
-What could be possible reasons for the rising occurrence of shapeshifitng bodies in popular culture during the last ten years?
-Paranormal romance novels feature an abundance of shapeshifitng -Posthumanism: has the issue of “shape” become irrelevant in posthuman studies? How does shifting shape tie in to posthumanism?
-Cyberspace issues: Have we indeed become the cyborg?
-DNA gambles and gene manipulations: the meaning of the shapeshifter in science and culture
-(Dis)Ability—representations of mental illness, psychotherapeutic techniques, (de)institutionalization in the changing of the body
-Interpersonal Communication: body language
-(Neuro)Science and Technology—ethics (e.g., human experimentations)
-Role-playing, gaming and MMORPGs
-Mythologies and folkloric belief
-Magic, transformation and the body
-Theoretical considerations of gender, female and non-normative sexuality
-The female shapeshifter as/and the other
-The male shapeshifter as/and the other
-Post-9/11 shapeshifting and its implications
-Cultural shapeshifting, mimcry, integration and post-colonial identity
-Carnivalesque as a performance
-Performance in relation to the shapeshifter: performing gender, performing identities, performing sexuality, performing cultural belonging/stereotypes
-The way we dress as a shapeshifting act: cross- dressing, transvestism, drag
-McDonald´s is going green: The shapeshifting nature of corporations and institutions
The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. Papers and presentations will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts or presentation proposals should be submitted by Friday 14th June 2013. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper, if appropriate, should be submitted by Friday 13th September 2013.
What to Send
300 word abstracts or presentation proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords. E- mails should be entitled: SHAPE1 Abstract Submission
Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.
Margo Collins: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Fisher: email@example.com
The conference is part of the Probing the Boundaries programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore discussions which are innovative and challenging. All papers accepted for and presented at this conference are eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into a themed ISBN hard copy volume.
For further details of the conference, please visit:
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