Over the past two years, the University of Rochester History Department’s annual Graduate Conference has explored themes, events, movements, individuals, and ideas that can be characterized as alternative, departures from the expected or the commonly appreciated – even "deviant." Building upon this trend, this year we propose to confront the idea of deviance directly.
In colloquial usage, the label "deviant" is frequently loaded with negative connotations. When individuals, groups, or ideas deviate, they are placed within an interpretive framework that can preemptively restrict or silence their voices in social discourse, making them "taboo" or "unmentionable." The theme "Deviants, Taboos and Unmentionables" provides an opportunity for graduate students in a variety of disciplines to explore the limits that social structures impose on the concept of deviance and to investigate "taboo" figures, movements, and ideas, while also interrogating the very process by which the idea of deviance is constructed, applied, manipulated and made to be "unmentionable."
In addition to our interest in limits, language, ideas, and processes, our conference on "Deviants, Taboos and Unmentionables" is also intended to reflect a common interest across the humanities in the crucial question of identity. We invite papers to engage with the concept of identity and its role in the interplay between structure and agency; the manner in which historical forces shape our understanding of both self and other; and our need as scholars to confront and shed light on the marginal, overlooked corners of human society. In a time when the humanities are increasingly being labeled as unnecessary or peripheral to more scientific and empirically-based disciplines, it seems fitting to interrogate how negative labels and ideas are created, appropriated and resisted.
We hope that one panel at this year's conference to deal specifically with western New York. As a historical hotbed of movements that have been deemed deviant, taboo, or unmentionable, we would like to encourage applicants whose work deals with this theme in western New York to submit proposals.
The deadline for proposals is November 25, 2012. The conference will take place on February 23, 2013.
University of Rochester
443 Rush Rhees Library
Rochester, NY 14627
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