Due Nov 30 | Abstract Submissions – “Dust and Distraction // Staub und Zerstreuung”, Johns Hopkins University

Call for Papers: Graduate Student Conference in German Studies, Johns Hopkins University
February 12th & 13th, 2021 • 10am – 4pm ET • Online
Abstract deadline: November 30th, 2020

What do dust and distraction have in common within the context of literature? The etymology of distraction suggests
concentration torn asunder, and dust–deriving from German Dunst (vapor)–diffused, blurred, or disintegrated perception.
The German word for distraction (Zerstreuung) contains within it the sign for dispersal and diffusion (Streuung) associated
with, among other things, dust and diaspora. Our current global moment draws attention to a number of dissonances,
cognitive, emotional, and narrative. Many of these spring from the management of distraction(s) in economies of
attention, or, conversely, management of attention(s) in economies of distraction. The redistribution of demands on
attention exposes problems both hypermodern and ancient. Can we notice the novel ways paying attention constitutes and
colors narrative acts and flows? Does distraction disrupt attention or does it, like silence in music, (re)structure it? Is the
edifice of attention always already a narrative of distraction? How does literature collect, transform, or become dust?
What happens when we recalibrate our attention to focus on dust? And can we focus on distraction?

The themes of dust and distraction appear at the intersections of disciplines and can be found to figure in the works of, for
example, Adorno, Agamben, Arendt, Benjamin, Derrida, DuBois, Foucault, Franck, Kracauer, Kristeva, Sontag,
Wittgenstein, among many others.

We invite investigations into the intersections of theory and literature across disciplines. This graduate student conference encourages
participants to explore and perhaps enact its own theme. We welcome contributions in two formats: a writing workshop with precirculated
papers and short 9 x 9 presentations that juxtapose image and speech (9 images, one minute per image) followed by
discussion. Participants are also invited to attend mini seminars conducted by keynote speakers with pre-circulated readings.

We welcome work that takes up themes including but not limited to:

1. Creative, ludic, emancipatory potential of
distraction/dust: camp, entropy
2. Marxist and Frankfurt School approaches to
culture industry and the creation of the distracted subject
3. Gendering and queering of distraction: sexed or
gendered physique as ‘distracting,’ hysteria, lunacy
4. Social dialectics and dispersions: particles and
particularities, diasporas, racialized narratives of dust/
5. Literary concentration and distraction/
dilution: reading as distraction from reality and vice versa
6. Representation and symbols of distraction:
blurred vision, lack of focus
7. Experiences of distraction/dust: aesthetics,
poetics, rituals, phenomenologies, visualities
8. Economies of distraction/dust: mechanics,
genealogy, conceptual histories
9. Mechanisms and organisms of distraction/
dust: urbanization and pollution (noise, light, dirt) vs
stillness and abandonment
10.Digital distraction/dust: compression, lossiness,
virtual realities, and metaphors
11. Production and labor: dusting, dust as (by)product
of excavation, (re)construction, dilapidation, and/or
demolition, Trümmerliteratur
12. Commodification of attention and distraction:
wellness as distraction, asymptotic teleologies of impossible
productivity, fungibility of attention, overstimulation,
monotony, idleness, restlessness, exhaustion
13. Ideology and distraction: strategies and narratives
of legitimation, surveillance and distraction
14. Aging and time: status quo, rupture/revolution,
affliction as distraction, distraction from death

Please submit abstracts of max 250 words followed by a short bio by November 30th, 2020 to:

The conference will take place virtually on February 12th & 13th, 2021.