Royal College of Art, London, 10-12 April 2014
Deadline: 11 November 2013
Metamorphoses (AAH Annual Conference, Royal College of Art, London, 10-12 April 2014)
Session Convenors: Pandora Syperek (University College London) and Marion Endt-Jones (University of Manchester)
The metamorphosis of insects and amphibians has functioned as a powerful metaphor for creative potential and startling transformation in nature and culture. (R)evolutionary associations with shapeshifting creatures proliferated following 19th-century theories of the origin of species: while metamorphic bodies were ubiquitous in fin-de-siècle art and literature, anxieties over involution and regression resurfaced in Surrealism’s fascination with insects such as the praying mantis.
A model for development, hierarchical or chaotic, metamorphosis in nature has traditionally inspired myth and fairy tale. Gillian Beer suggests that the natural sciences have sometimes bordered on the unstable territory of the supernatural: the sublimation of ‘lower’ animals suggests the permeability of the human and the divine. Humans do not metamorphose, in the narrower biological sense. However, recent body art, including (trans)gender and transgenic explorations, plays with the metamorphic potential of identity.
Beer posits metamorphosis as a series of abrupt changes, leading to ever-new forms, while Rosi Braidotti emphasizes the ’flows and interconnections’ of becoming. For this session we welcome contributions from academics and artists examining these issues of continuity and identity. What implications do permeations between humans, other animals and the supernatural hold for the subject? As part of a reproductive process, and inherently unstable, how does
metamorphosis correspond to gendered identities? Entailing flow, movement and the (re)shaping of organic matter or ideas, how does renewal relate to creativity? How do death and decay figure into narratives of growth? Are principles of metamorphosis found in non-animal forms, for example in geology or alchemy?
Please send abstracts (250 words max.) for papers of 25-30 minutes to Pandora Syperek (email@example.com) and Marion Endt-Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 11 November 2013.
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