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The Theory Reading Group at Cornell University invites submissions for its sixth annual interdisciplinary spring conference:
Form and Genesis
Featuring keynote speakers Adrian Johnston (University of New Mexico) and Robert Kaufman (University of California, Berkeley)
Ithaca, New York
April 22-24, 2010
Increasingly it seems that contemporary thought is confronted with two ways of explaining its objects. On the one hand, a formal approach seeks to analyze the necessary structures or defining qualities that make something what it is. On the other hand, a genetic or historical method aims to uncover the forces that give rise to form or structure in the first place. Do these modes of explanation disqualify one another, or are there compelling prospects for their integration? For example, is it possible to understand how thought or rationality can grasp its own determining processes? Or, on the contrary, is thought structurally unable to access a domain that is by nature exterior to reason, sense, or order?
Broadly understood, the formal approach tends to seek logical explanations, while the genetic approach looks to materialist or genealogical accounts. The relation between these two orders of explanation has wide implications. What is the connection between logical or normative form and its temporal, material, or historical genesis? Conversely, what might an analysis of the structure of genealogy or critique tell us about the latter? Does the political critique of form as an arbitrary convention mitigate its powers of normativity? What is the relationship between form and history, or form and materiality in literary and aesthetic theory? What is the status of formalism, whether literary or logical-mathematical, in contemporary theory?
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