11th Annual Graduate Conference in Political Thought and Intellectual History
In recent years, appreciation for the relationships between politics and aesthetics has grown. Often associated with the writings of Jacques Rancière, partisans of the so-called ‘aesthetic turn in political thought’ have increasingly stressed the figurative and linguistic dimensions of political theory. Though these interrelationships have been a central concern of thinkers from Plato to the contemporary writings of Slavoj Žižek, much of this more recent literature recognises only a limited chronology. For intellectual historians, however, the now-classic methodological interventions of the ‘Cambridge School’ (Quentin Skinner, J.G.A Pocock and John Dunn) emphasised precisely these considerations for thinkers of a variety of historical periods. By highlighting the pivotal connections between the intentions of thinkers and the words and languages through which they were expressed, their writings confirmed Rancière’s own insistence that ‘There never has been any “aestheticization” of politics in the modern age because politics is aesthetic in principle.’
The uneasy distinctions between poetics, aesthetics and politics raise many important issues for historians of political thought. Can we sharply distinguish political and aesthetic concerns throughout history? Are political theories always determined by the languages and conventions in which they are uttered? What relationship does material culture have to the history of political thought? Aiming to explore these and related questions, the organisers of the 11th Annual Cambridge Graduate Conference in Political Thought and Intellectual History, scheduled for Wednesday, June 13, 2018, invite submissions for presentations on the theme ‘Aesthetics and Poetics in the History of Political Thought.’
Given the extensive range of the theme in question, proposals from a variety of sub-disciplines and across geographic and historical divisions are welcome. Topics can include, but are not limited to:
- the politics of language
- theories and nature of representation
- histories of metaphor
- gender, aesthetics and the political
- the politics of art and architecture
- conceptions of imagination and judgment
- rhetorical strategies in the history of political thought
- political thought and literature
- material culture and political thought
- the politics of cultural practice and exchange
- national aesthetics
- collecting and collections
- authorial self-representation
- histories of the book
- illustrations, figures and the aesthetics of textuality
The conference will feature a keynote address by Professor Martin E. Jay, who is the Ehrman Professor of European History at the University of California, Berkeley. Participants will be invited to present their work in themed panels, which will be followed by question and answer sessions. Cambridge has a longstanding reputation for the study of political thought and intellectual history, and conference participants can expect to receive collegial feedback from members of the History Faculty.
Interested graduate students are asked to send an abstract (max. 500 words) for a 20-minute presentation and a short CV (max. 2 pages) to ptihconf at hermes.cam.ac.uk.
The deadline for proposals is March 1, 2018.