Annual Symposium

CHR seeks proposals for its second annual symposium (theme: "Connecting/Not Connecting")


Connecting/Not Connecting: Formations of Community, Solidarity, Alienation, Antipathy 

(April 27-28, 2023) **PDF HERE

A virtual symposium hosted by the Center for Humanities Research, George Mason University 

Keynote address by Professor Seyla Benhabib, Eugene Meyer Professor Emerita of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University on Thursday, April 27 with panels on Friday, April 28 


Call for Papers 

The Center for Humanities Research at George Mason University invites proposals for papers that interrogate connection or its inverse, failed connection, in any of its iterations or materializations across time, space, media, and discipline.  

The idea of connection has multiple valences, critical and utopian, historical and contemporaneous, affirmative and constrictive, for the humanities. Connection also shades over into “community,” a term whose apparent desirability bears within it, inevitably, its opposite: forms of exclusion and non-belonging. “Community” can empower people through forms of social and political solidarity, it can serve as a foundation for people’s sense of belonging, and identity, but it can also demand conformity. Similarly, notions of communal or collective responsibility can serve as the basis for recognition of structural ills and their redress, but they can also serve as the basis for group stigmatization and impulses for discriminatory actions and violence. Communities can be undone through acts of violence, through ideological provocation, or through the struggle over territory. Equally, they can be undone by the slow attrition wrought by social-economic forces (such as gentrification, the passing-away of unions, the loss of jobs or the demands of new forms of labor), by the transformations wrought by environmental and demographic developments, the emergence of a disease, the impact of climate change. “Community” offers us an important category for thinking about experience, but it can occlude other imaginative possibilities for working or living together, or for understanding social and cultural dynamics. We invite papers addressing any of these themes or the following: 

  • the affective, political, performative, linguistic, or material dimensions of connection, or its opposite, anomie and alienation 
  • non-community forms of connection, such as “networks” or “allies and alliances” or “institutions” (parties, unions, corporations, civic and or religious groups) 
  • the implications of the technological/digital/virtual, broadly construed, for community—or its opposite, alienation. 

Please submit a brief paper proposal/abstract (no more than 500 words), along with a brief CV, as a single PDF file, clearly labeled with your last name leading (ex. Smith CHR Symposium Proposal), by noon ET on Wednesday, November 30, 2022 to 





Recap of CHR's First Annual Symposium: "Pasts/Presents/Futures," April 7-8, 2022

zoomSee a complete schedule and speaker bios here.

Keynote Speaker: Kara Keeling 

Both days of events are free and open to all, from aspiring to established humanities scholars. 
Because of its cross-disciplinary nature, the symposium will also interest those outside or at the intersection of traditional humanities fields whose work relates to CHR's 2021-22 theme--
This year's symposium theme is Pasts/Presents/Futures:
The experience of the pandemic has brought with it a heightened awareness of the complexity of time. It is at once an experience of what political theorist Elizabeth Povinelli might call the “durative present,” as the past feels irretrievably lost, and a post-pandemic future unimaginable. And yet at the same time, the racial reckoning provoked by the murder of George Floyd underscores the ways in which racialized violence infuses the present, revealing that what we had assumed to be “the past,” in fact lives on in the present. When trapped in a durative present how might we imagine a different future? These contradictory experiences of time remind us that it is neither natural nor fixed. Conceptions of time have, historically, delimited what we are able—and unable—to see, lending certain events, peoples, and subjectivities visibility while pushing others into obscurity. 
For this two-day virtual symposium, we will be joined by scholars from Mason and (far!) beyond, representing a range of humanistic disciplines, whose work interrogates the politics and possibilities of temporal encounters.
They keynote address will be given by Professor Kara Keeling (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago) on the evening of April 7, and a day of panels and other events will follow on April 8.


More about the Annual Symposium:

CHR's Annual Symposium is organized around the Center’s research theme. It features a keynote address and aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars working in areas related to the theme. In addition to active participation by graduate students, undergraduates are welcome and those accepted into the Undergraduate Symposium Seminar have the opportunity to meet the keynote speaker and engage in discussion with her or him about their work. In the future, the symposium will also feature thematically related talks and programming aimed at the larger DMV community.