Skip to content

Conference CFP: Encountering Materiality

2015 November 26
by Shared by Steve Rust

The conference Encountering Materiality: Science, Art, Language will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from 23-25 June 2016.

This conference is co-organized by the English Department of the University of Geneva and by the Dirt Foundation.



What is materiality?

As contemporary societies meet philosophical and earthly limits, we are being confronted with the difficulty of articulating what materiality and matter are. Faced with anthropogenic alterations of numerous ecosystems and in light of developments in the sciences of ecology, geology and climatology, we have been forced to rethink our place and function in the collective environment of planet Earth. Developments in the neurosciences have challenged the limits and boundaries of the mind and of the individual and have shown us that consciousness, body, language and environment constantly interrelate. The very nature of reality has been redefined by quantum physics and experiments realized in accelerators and colliders. In addition to all this, the leap in information technology enabled by the internet has radically altered the way we perceive and interact with the world, our bodies, ourselves, and each other. Many scientists, artists and scholars now see matter as an active agent in our becoming.

Drawing on the fields of New Materialism and the Environmental Humanities, the conference is not restricted to them. Rather, it will address how sciences, arts and texts enact encounters with materiality as an entanglement of relationships, meanings, matter and movement, and it will respond to the following questions:

  • How do we encounter materiality, materials and/or matter in the twenty-first century?
  • How do language and literary language in particular offer ways of encountering materiality and/or matter?
  • How have the developments in ecology, neurosciences, physics and new media changed the way we encounter the world of matter?
  • How can our encounters with matter undermine, redefine or produce ways of knowing, of being and of doing that are more in tune with the challenges that contemporary societies—in all their diversity—face?
  • How can our current understandings of materiality help us to rethink the role of artistic, literary and scientific practices in fashioning the material world?
  • How can scientists, artists and scholars share their findings on matter and materiality with the public?
  • How can a conversation among sciences, arts and the humanities shed light on our relationships with matter, meaning and action?


Call for Participation

With materiality as its focus and transdisciplinarity as its mode, this conference will address the diverse ways of knowing, interpreting and engaging with matter. Whether your subject matter is textual, substantial, corporeal, environmental or incommensurable, and whether you wish to create, think, analyze, measure or discuss, we are looking forward to hearing how you engage with materiality in your field of research and practice.

In keeping with the transdisciplinary approach of the event, we encourage conference submissions that are open to all modes of knowing. Participants are invited to discuss, present, exhibit or enact a wide range of topics that fall into the theme “encountering materiality”.

Please submit your 300-word proposal online ( by 1 February 2016. Indicate the type of participation (e.g., presentation, performance). If your work, portions of it or references to it are present in media form (picture, video, website, etc.), please send us a copy or a link to it. You will receive a notification of acceptance at the end of February 2016.

Please note that although the main language of the conference is English, we also welcome abstracts and presentations in French.

Oral presentations should be 20 minutes long, with a 10-minute question time at the end of each paper.
For performances, please indicate the duration (between 10 and 20 minutes) and the space and material needed.
We welcome preconstituted panels that include different modes of expression. In this case, please indicate the types of presentation/performance and the duration of each.
Do not hesitate to contact the organizers by email if you have any question, with “EM2016” as the subject of the email.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS