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What directions of thought, or degrees of evaluative judgment or surety, are right , right now, for the scholar of communications, cultural studies or related social scientific- and humanities-based disciplines?

For the past several decades, dominant intellectual forces in these disciplines have disarmed not only particular ethical frameworks, but also the very category of the normative (as expressed in the virtual taboo on grand narratives). The postmodern orientation away from concepts such as the good, truth, and progress has inspired constructive research; however, we're inclined to ask if the theoretical consequences of postmodernity have come to threaten whole lines of ethical inquiry. Surely, even in pluralist times the role of what is right, what is good, and what is just must still be worthy of articulation.

Intersections 2007: What's Right / Right Now? is calling for critical and creative presenters to re-imagine the potential for ethical pronouncements and the formulation of a more-defined ethos within contemporary academic practice, activism and creative expression.

Intersections 2007 is the sixth annual conference held by the Joint Graduate Programme in Communication and Culture at Ryerson and York Universities . We are inviting graduate students from all related disciplines to submit proposals for presentations that explore the ethics and ethoi of contemporary social scientific- and humanities-based scholarship via intersections with social theory, politics, policy, culture, media, technology, artistic practice and social activism. Details on subtopics and submission procedures follow below. Some of the questions that we hope to entertain include (but are not limited to)

  • How do we deal ethically with our objects of study? Which path is "right" for social analysts, critics and artists: That of the outside observer or active participant? That of the objectivity of the scientific method or the subjective passions of the ideologically-determined?
  • How can we define the responsibilities of the contemporary academic or artistic social critic? Are there tensions between what is "right" and what these responsibilities might be?
  • Should the classroom and lecture hall be politicized spaces? Or, as some critics argue, should neutrality outweigh political ethos within the walls of higher learning?
  • Is it wrong to be uni-disciplinary in a predominately interdisciplinary academic / artistic culture? Has the institutionalized interdisciplinary focus failed to deliver on its promise?
  • Can there be a contemporary political economy of communications without cultural studies? Can there be a contemporary cultural studies without political economy?
  • What ethical questions arise from the commercialization of the academy?
  • What is the role of academic ethics or analytic ethos in the debates around international conflict and peace, especially in the polarized climate of the "post 9/11" world?
  • How do we negotiate the right of multiculturalism with the right of gender equality, freedom of expression or freedom of religion in a time of widespread cultural conflict?
  • How does what is deemed as "right" get reflected by legislated rights? How do (or how can) ethics become policy? How do we negotiate between "right" in an ethical sense and "rights" as they're actually appealed to and invoked to legitimize political agendas?
  • How should we (or should we at all) make evaluative pronouncements of recent technological advancements? Trends in art? Tastes in pop culture?
  • Do emergent methodologies of creative research express an insufficiency with traditional modes of intellectual / academic practice? What ethical pronouncements underlie the move away from exclusively written scholarship?
  • How, at the beginning of the 21 st century, are we to position the previous half-century's postmodern project whilst laying the foundations for our own contributions? Can or should questions of "rightness" even exist at all?
  • Is Marxist or critical analysis the last available normative position?

We are pursuing this topic and posing these questions not to determine a rigid and unwavering set of answers, nor to create hostility between those with opposing ideologies, but to facilitate constructive discussion among critical and creative minds in an effort to better understand the forces that motivate the work we do. Submissions may also include (but are not limited to) papers, artwork and activist presentations that approach our question of academic ethics, disciplinary ethoi and contemporary "rightness" in relation to the following broader topics:

1) Media and Culture
- We are seeking input on: the need for a feminist ethics; right and wrong in the media effects debate; queries regarding the social responsibility in media ownership and content production; ethical questions raised by the representation of disability, class, gender, race and sexuality in the contemporary mediascape; right and wrong in independent and DIY media creation; and ethical questions of social and cultural belonging, identity and privilege.

2) Technology in Practice

- We are seeking input on: questions regarding technology's emergent role in theoretical and practical debates surrounding art, authenticity, and aesthetics; activist art and cinema in the 21 st century; the ethics and ethoi of electronic civil disobedience and hacktivism; and discussions of how the Internet, new media and digital networking are reconfiguring social formations, subject positions and ethical debates about the freedom or openness of information.

3) Politics and Policy
- We are seeking input on: the moral ethoi behind the political right and/or left; political justifications for civil disobedience; the values driving communication and cultural policy reform in Canada; ethical issues regarding copyright and intellectual property legislation; the ethics in the multiculturalism vs. cultural sovereignty debates; what's right or wrong with contemporary environmental, health care or national defense policies; utilitarianism and the contemporary capitalist democracy; ethical questions concerning privacy and surveillance in the 21 st century; and moral dilemmas emerging from globalization and human rights issues.

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Intersections 2007 will include the following formats for disseminating and discussing ideas:

  1. Paper presentations (15 min. presentation of an academic paper with time for discussion to follow) Creative performance or art display (with artist's talk)
  2. Poster session or table display (with possible roundtable discussion)

Although these formats are tailored to accommodate academic papers, artwork and activist contributions respectively, all participants are encouraged to apply for whatever format is most interesting or appropriate for your submission. Panel submissions are also acceptable, but we encourage thematic cohesion.

All interested graduate students are asked to submit a short written abstract or artist's statement explaining the proposed presentation in light of the conference themes, and indicate which of the above three formats the presentation would take.

Abstract or statement should be no more than 250 words (approx. 1 typewritten page, double spaced) and submitted via email as a .DOC or .RTF attachment.
PLEASE NOTE: Name and contact information should not appear on the same page as proposal. Please include a separate page with the following information:

  • Title of presentation as it appears on the abstract or statement
  • Your name Affiliation (program and university)
  • Level and year of study (ex. Master's, 2nd year)
  • E-mail address
  • Mailing address
  • A/V requirements (computer/projector, film projector, VCR, stereo,
    turntables, etc).
  • *If you have exceptional requirements for your work, please contact us to discuss feasibility.
  • Submission format (paper presentation, creative presentation, poster session, etc).

All information provided to us will be kept confidential. All submissions are presented anonymously to the conference adjudication committee for peer review before acceptance or declination.

Artists are also asked to submit a small sample of their work for adjudication, by either email or post. If sending creative works by email, please limit attachment size to 5mb or less. You may also direct us to an URL. Please put viewing instructions, comments and titles in your email if applicable. If submitting creative works by post, please mail the proposal, a non-original copy of the work, and viewing instructions to the following address (well before the CFP deadline):

Intersections 2007 Conference c/o Graduate Programme in Communication and Culture
3068 TEL Building , York University
4700 Keele Street Toronto , ON M3J 1P3  

CFP Deadline: FRIDAY, JANUARY 12th, 2007

Please e-mail submissions (or questions) to: intersec@ryerson.ca

Presented by and for graduate student scholars, artists and activists through the organizing efforts of the Communication and Culture Graduate Students Association (GSA): http://www.yorku.ca/cocugsa

For more information about the Joint Graduate Programme in Communication and Culture at Ryerson and York Universities: http://comcult.yorku.ca

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