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Monstrous Geographies
Giovanni Battista de' Cavalieri


Apologies for posting this Call for Papers months after the deadline has passed. I myself found out about this conference a bit too late as well. Nevertheless, I thought I'd post the abstract — along with its incredible list of topics — for reference. (After all, posting syllabi is always in vogue.) Used as a mission statement and a checklist, you could undoubtedly assemble one of the most interesting blogs (or Tumblr or Pinterest boards) out there.

The conference, Monstrous Geographies: Places and Spaces of Monstrosity, will take place in Prague, Czech Republic, on May 2013. This is actually the second conference of an interdisciplinary project organized by a global network of scholars. The first conference took place last year, and abstracts of all the presentations, along with some of the draft papers, are archived here.




MONSTROUS GEOGRAPHIES: PLACES AND SPACES OF MONSTROSITY

What is the relationship between the monstrous and the geographic? From ‘Aristotelian’ spaces – as containers of monsters and the monstrous – to ‘Leibnizian’ spaces, where the monstrous emerges from the topological relation between events and localities, monstrous geographies have always haunted the human cultural imagination. From the Necropolis to the Killing Fields and from the Amityville Horror to the island of Dr. Moreau, geographical locations may act as the repository or emanation of human evil, made monstrous by the rituals and behaviors enacted within them, or by their peculiarities of atmosphere or configuration. Whether actual or imagined, these places of wonder, fear and horror speak of the symbiotic relation between humanity and location that sees morality, ideology and emotions given physical form in the house, the forest, the island, the nation and even far away worlds in both space and time. They may engage notions of self and otherness, inclusion and exclusion, normal and aberrant, defense and contagion; may act as magnets for destructive and evil forces, such as the island of Manhattan; they are the source of malevolent energies and forces, such as Transylvania, Area 51 and Ringu; and they are the fulcrum for chaotic, warping energies, such as the Bermuda Triangle, Atlantis and Pandemonium. Alongside this, there exist the monstrous geographies created by scientific experimentation, human waste and environmental accidents, creating sites of potential and actual disaster such as the Chernobyl nuclear plant, the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP oil disaster, and the devastated coastline of Tohuku, Japan. These places raise diverse post-human quandaries regarding necessities in the present leading to real or imagined futures of humanity and habitation.

Encompassing the factual and the fictional, the literal and the literary, this project investigates the very particular relationships and interactions between humanity and place, the natural and the unnatural, the familiar and the unfamiliar, and sees a multitude of configurations of human monstrosity and evil projected, inflicted, or immanent to place. Such monstrous geographies can be seen to emerge from the disparity between past and present, memory and modernity, urban and rural and can be expressed through categories of class, gender and racial difference as well as generational, political and religious tensions.

Presentations, papers, reports, performances, work-in-progress, workshops and pre-formed panels are invited on issues related to any of the following themes:

Monstrous Cartographies:
~Terra incognita
~Real and Mythic lost lands: eg., Atlantis, D’yss [Ys?], and Shangri-La
~Utopias/Dystopias, future cities in time and space
~Malevolent regions: eg., Lemuria, Bermuda Triangle, Transylvania
~Sublime landscapes
~Bodies as maps and maps as bodies, eg. Prison Break

Monstrous Islands:
~As sites of experimentation. Dr. Moreau, Jurassic Park, etc.
~As a beacon for evil: eg., Manhattan in Godzilla and Cloverfield
~As site of ritual evil and incest: eg., Wicker Man, Pitkin Islands, Isle of the Dead
~Imperialist intent and construction: eg., Prospero’s Island, Hong Kong, Hashima

Monstrous Cosmographies:
~Evil planets and dimensions
~Comets, meteorites and beings from unknown worlds
~Worlds as dark reflections/twins of Earth
~Planets and alien landscapes that consume and mutate earthly travelers

Monstrous Environmental Geographies:
~Polluted lakes and landscapes
~Landfills, oil spills and mining sites
~Melting icecaps and landforms at risk from global warming
~Land impacted by GM crops and associated experimentation
~Sites of starvation, disaster and pestilence
~De-militarized zones and no-man’s lands

Monstrous Religious Sites & Ritualistic Monstrosity:
~Armageddon, Apocalypse and final battlegrounds
~Hell, the Underworld and Valhalla
~Eden, Purgatory, Paradise, El Dorado, Shangri La
~Sites of religious ritual, sacrifice and burial
~Houses and haunts of murderers and serial killers

Monstrous Landscapes of Conflict:
~The land of the enemy and the other
~Sites of attack and retaliation.
~Sites of revolution and protest
~Concentration camps, prisons and other sites of incarceration
~Sites of genocide, battlefields and military graveyards
~Border crossings
~Ghettos, shanty towns and relocation sites
~Urban and rural, cities, towns and villages and regional and national prejudice
~Minefields and sites of damage, destruction and ruin
~Arsenals, bunkers and military experimentation

Goldstein


Uncanny Geographical Temporalities:
~Old buildings in new surroundings
~Buildings with too much, and those without, memory
~Soulless Architecture
~Ideological architecture, palaces, museums etc
~Places held in time, UNESCO sites and historical and listed buildings
~Old towns and New towns, rich and poor
~Appearing and disappearing towns/regions, eg., Brigadoon, Silent Hill.

Monsters on the Move:
~Contagion, scouring and infectious landscapes
~Monsters and mobile technologies: phone, video, cars, planes, computers etc
~Fluid identities, fluid places
~Touring Monstrosities, dreamscapes and infernal topologies

Architectural Monstrosity
~Mazes and labyrinths (with or without the Minotaur)
~Unsettling/revolting geometries (E.A. Abbot’s Flatland, H.P. Lovecraft’s City of R’lyeh)
~Monstrous/abject building materials (bones, concrete, excrements, the corpse in the wall)
~The architecture of death (hospices, death row, funeral homes, slaughterhouses)

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