Call for papers and announcement of stipends for the attendance of the international conference

Configurations of the Third: 1800 to the Present Third Agents and the Missing Links of Modernity St. John’s College, University of Cambridge, UK 29-31 August 2005


STIPENDS CRASSH, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, Cambridge/U.K., provides funding (travel expenses) for outstanding post-graduate students from the U.K and continental Europe to give a paper at the conference. Applicants should add a note to their abstract (to be submitted by 15 January 2005).

PARASITES, MIASMATA AND MISSING LINKS; dialectics, the unconscious and chiliasm; Hermes figures, rivals and tricksters — all these catchphrases refer to third agents or tripartite agencies. The ‘figure of the third’ often takes the form of a privileged entity or space which overcomes binary oppositions and effects transformation. Post-Cartesian intellectual andscientific enquiry has witnessed an explosion in attempts to move beyond the dichotomy of mind vs. matter and develop and criticise triadic structures of thought.

This has unleashed modes of thinking which relate the figure of the third to fundamental questions of subjectivity and self-consciousness. With this conference we want to create an opportunity to engage in an interdisciplinary debate on continuities and discontinuities between tripartite configurations during the last 200 years.

Linking the imaginative and theoretical implications of these structures to post-Enlightenment culture’s unease with both ambivalence and binary oppositions has been a central preoccupation of cultural theory (e.g. the Frankfurt School, J. Habermas, N. Elias, Z. Bauman). The conference will pursue this further and ask whether the modern human condition can be adequately captured as an unfinished project of invoking third agents to reconfigure ambivalence and binarity.

We are inviting contributions from the following fields:

1. Philosophy and Theology: · 1800 and all that? The late 18th century as a paradigm shift · Idealism and Materialism · German philosophy − French theory: the migrations of thirdness · Configurations of the Third in Modern Theology · Chiliasm, millenarianism and utopia in the 19th and 20th century

2. History & Philosophy of Science: · Third bodies · Parasites, epidemics, infections: history of medicine · The dialectics of evolutionary theory · The uncertainty principle and metareflexivity in modern science

3. Social and Political Sciences: · Third ways · Money, circulation, acceleration: reflections on modernity · Concepts of time and space in postcolonial discourse · Jürgen Habermas and the public sphere · Giorgio Agamben’s concept of ‘homo sacer’

4. Literary Studies: · The Third as a literary theme: angels, rivals and tricksters · Theories of metaphor · Reader-response criticism and the author-text-reader triangle · The sublime, the uncanny, the individual: psychoanalysis and literature

5. Media Studies / Cultural Studies: · Intertextuality, Intermediality · Tertiary models in media studies and communication theory · Configurations of the uncanny in media studies · The Third in cultural studies (eg cultural materialism, postcolonialism) · The notion of ‘ecology’ in cultural theory

Papers are welcome in English, French and German. Abstracts should be sent by 15 January 2005 to:

Ulrich Bröckling (ulrich.brö[email protected]), Ian Cooper ([email protected]), and Bernhard Malkmus ([email protected])

A selection of papers will be published.