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Newsletter of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts
Fall 2011, Vol. 21, No.1
Minutes from Executive and Business Meetings at SLSA 2011, Kitchener
President Richard Nash introduced new member-at-large Suzanne Black,
replacing John Bruni and Kevin LaGrandeur. Nash reported that working
with journal editors and reviewing the
society’s membership categories are issues on the horizon.
Executive Director Carol Colatrella shared a draft of the 2010-11 SLSA
Financial Report, noting expenses, revenues, and balances as of
mid-September. The society’s fiscal year runs through September, and the
final version of the report will be shared on the listserv and posted on
the society website in late October.
Approximately 250 panelists attended SLSA 2011, held September 22
through 25 in Kitchener, Ontario, according to University of Waterloo
professor Marcel O’Gorman, who organized local arrangements, including
art exhibits and events. Officers and other participants thanked
O’Gorman for his hard work and creative energies in organizing the
meeting, the 25th Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature Science
and the Arts. Sites for the event included the Delta Hotel Kitchener,
THEMUSEUM, the UW Critical Media Lab, the Artery Gallery, and
Kitchener’s City Hall. Program chairs Melissa Littlefield and Robert
Markley, U. of Illinois, and Susan Squier, Penn State University, were
thanked for their efforts in reviewing and organizing the panels and
proposal submitted by members.
The Kitchener conference promised to be quite an extravaganza and lived
up to this expectation. In addition to the array of exciting panels and
celebrity plenary speakers (Bernard Stiegler and Isabelle Stengers), the
conference hosted an exhibition at the Critical Media Lab, following the
theme of Pharmakon. Delegates also had a chance to experience CAFKA,
Kitchener’s biennial of public art, including locative interventions by
the geo-art group Spurse and architectural mutations by west coast
artist Reece Terris. Finally, THEMUSEUM hosted an exhibition of
computational art, including classic work by Manfred Mohr, Alan Rath,
and Peter Vogel, in addition to a major new digital installation by
Information about upcoming meetings of the society and its sister
society, SLSA Europe, were shared at the meeting. Colatrella shared the
call for papers for SLSA Europe’s 2012 sent by London organizer Bergit
Ahrends, which is attached here.
SLSA 2012 will be held in Milwaukee, September 27-30, 2012, and
sponsored by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Organizers are
Richard Grusin, Director of the Center for Twenty-First Century Studies,
and Nigel Rothfels, Director of Undergraduate Research. Grusin announced
that the conference themes will include mediation and flow. A call for
papers will soon be posted on the SLSA website.
First Vice-President Laura Otis announced that SLSA 2013 will be
sponsored by the University of Notre Dame; Laura Dassow Walls will
organize the meeting.
Configurations editor Alan Rauch thanked co-editor Bruce Clarke and
shared tables of contents for upcoming issues through the 2012 volume.
Bob Markley and Ron Schleifer were appointed senior editors to
coordinate the journal beginning in 2012.
Publications committee member Elizabeth Wilson rotated off, and Susan
Squier joined Rob Mitchell and Ron Broglio on the committee.
The nomination committee (for 2nd vice-president and new member-at-large
to begin serving fall 2012) is chaired by Alan Rauch with members John
Bruni, Kevin LaGrandeur, and Marcel O’Gorman. The committee welcomes
nominations and self-nominations for these positions; send these to
email@example.com. They are also looking for a member who will be
appointed as an arts liaison to the SLSA Executive Committee; this
individual, who should be an artist or a curator, will assist conference
organizers and others in incorporating art and art events at meetings
and in other initiatives. Nominations for the art liaison should
describe relevant experience.
Bibliographer Sue Hagedorn is looking for new bibliographer to replace
her when she retires in two years. The SLSA Executive Committee is
particularly interested in hearing from members who might be interested
in this position, and especially interested in those who would like to
lead the bibliography into greater integration with the journal.Contact
Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and to express your interest in
Electronic Resources Coordinator Wayne Miller is implementing electronic
ballot for elections and initiatives and updating the proposal
submission system for the SLSA 2012 meeting
Members shared information about book series related to SLSA interests.
Susan Squier noted some series at Penn State University Press, Laura
Otis mentioned the University of Michigan Press, and Bruce Clarke (with
Henry Sussman, has begun to edit a series at Fordham University Press.
Travel Awards were presented by Richard Nash to Brian Cantrell, Ed
Chang, Allison du Fren, Kristina Gupta, Jennifer Gradecki, Aimi Hamraie,
Kira Walsh, Derek Woods, Beatrice Marovich, Robin Clarke, Sten Carlson,
and Brandon Costelloe-Kuehn.
The Bruns Essay Prize is sponsored by Katherine Hayles and was judged
this year by Patrick Jagoda. Hayles presented the 2011 prize to Jessica
Kuskey’s “Our Mutual Engine.” The commendation notes that “The essay
contends that ideological and economic conditions of early
nineteenth-century Britain were crucially linked to the capacity of
scientists to explore the principles of thermodynamics during the
Victorian period. Through a careful engagement with Charles Dickens’ Our
Mutual Friend (1864-65) and its literary representations of energy,
Kuskey argues that the novel stages an encounter between
nineteenth-century scientific theories of energy and pre-existing
cultural notions of ‘work’ and ‘waste’. In subsequent analysis, she
demonstrates how the Victorian cultural imperative that tall energy
should be employed for useful reifies capitalist economics through the
historically specific articulation of the natural laws of physical
The Schachterle Essay Prize was presented by Carol Colatrella to Bernard
Geoghegan’s “From Information Theory to French Theory: Jakobsen,
Levi-Strauss, and the Cybernetic Apparatus,” forthcoming in Critical
Inquiry, fall 2011. Judges Blake Leland and Susan McHugh’s commendation
indicates “This essay traces the history of what it calls a ‘Cybernetic
Apparatus,’ sketching the ways in which structural linguistics and
technologically oriented information theory were brought together in
order to construct a kind of shared set of fundamental notions and
research directions (an ‘apparatus’) in the post-War/Cold-War world of
the West. This conjunction. . . shows the way in which these metaphors
were generated and sustained—by means of money and power made available
to intellectuals such as Roman Jakobson, Claude Levi-Strauss, Jacques
Lacan, and others, by institutional actors such as the Rockefeller
Foundation, the United Nations, prestigious universities, and the
Central Intelligence Agency.”
The Kendrick Book Prize (Robert Markley announced that the prize was
awarded to Susan Squier’s Poultry Science, Chicken Culture: A Partial
Alphabet (Rutgers University Press, 2011). He and Laura Dassow Walls
served as judges. Donna Haraway praises the volume: “This vividly
written transdisciplinary book is full of proof that chickens are good
to think with, good to live with, good to inhabit thick histories with.
Squier’s ‘partial alphabet’ invites human beings and chickens to
reintroduce themselves to practices of love and care in art, science,
domesticity, farming, and more.”
Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by Richard Nash to Friedrich
Kittler, who was celebrated for his contributions to media theory,
technical analyis, and posthumanist theory. Katherine Hayles coordinated
judging for this award.
Wrap Up Session on Sunday, September 25, 2011, notes taken by Janine
We began by thanking to all who made this conference successful – and
especially Marcel. Then we began looking ahead to the next conference.
About the concurrent sessions:
Can we encourage people to read and talk slower? Sometimes it can be
hard to absorb all the info when the presenter reads very fast.
We need to make sure we continue to reserve that half an hour for
discussion. We should discourage the reading of papers, especially
papers that were meant to be written texts. It’s very difficult to
listen to a densely written dissertation chapter read aloud. We need to
be explicit in the guidelines.
Perhaps empower the chairs to be strict about keeping time. Perhaps we
should try to attract chairs who are not on the panel. We’ve done that
before. It’s hard to be strict about time when you are one of the
speakers. Assigning people to chair other panels can also create
cross-pollination. Of course, in the past when we’ve asked, “Are you
willing to chair a panel?” very few people have checked the box. And
travel plans can interfere with an attendee’s willingness to chair a
panel. Another suggestion was to draw on local colleagues to chair the
Streams: There are stream of sessions that seem to happen every year,
but sometimes only the folks who planned them know about them. They’ve
developed organically. Let’s encourage folks to put out information
about streams on the listserv to start the conversation early.
Several people said they liked that the conference had a theme, and that
many sessions made use of the theme. We talked about the possibility of
a reading list sent to attendees ahead of time. We could make better use
of the listserv in that regard.
New book panels: These are a relatively new innovation. People present
about a book that has been recently published. Someone suggested we send
out the list of what the new books will be so we have reading list ahead
of time. Someone else said we need to label these as “new book panel” on
the program so everyone knows what they are. We also need to put
pressure on press to make books available at the conference – at least
through Scholar’s Choice. It’s crazy for us to be doing advertising for
publishers who aren’t even willing make a minimal effort to sell the
book to us.
One attendee said she’d like to see more sessions about
interdisciplinary pedagogy. We talked about using the listserv more to
set up roundtables and panels on topics like that.
Things we loved and should continue
Great multi-disciplinary work. Great cross-fertilization. Loved that the
call for papers was not restrictive, but encouraged all kinds of
Being able to see all the abstracts online ahead of time is helpful and
The dance: Dancing builds community.
Breakfast, coffee, snacks offered between sessions and at receptions.
Vegan and vegetarian options were included. Everyone seemed pleased with
The half-hour break between sessions. Great discussions. Liked the
leisurely pace. The real intellectual work happens then.
The presence of art and artists in the foreground at this conference.
We’ve finally fully embraced the extra A in SLSA. Need to keep this
One artist said that he’s been coming to SLSA for 8 years and this is
the first time he was able to show his work, show the deepest part of
himself, and he said he was profoundly grateful.
Artists need to be able to exhibit their work; we need to keep that in
mind for the future, and work out the logistics of it. At least one
person said that we should pay artists, just as we would pay a plenary
speaker. Maybe we could work with artists to get local support, at least
in the form of space, if not other funding.
Other ideas for the future
Logistical note: we need a full two hours for the lunch so that we don’t
run into afternoon sessions.
Nametags: Some of us are getting old and our vision getting worse. Be
sure that the first names of the tags are written in big bold letters.
Better networking and advertising: one attendee heard about the
conference when a colleague invited her, but didn’t see the CFP on any
of the lists you would expect to see it on. We need be more explicit
about asking SLSA members to send the announcement to other lists.
“Please distribute widely.” We have 880 members on the SLSA list.
Bird of a feather sessions: Some folks have used to electronic means
such as Facebook or Twitter to find like-minded folks, but during the
conference, a whiteboard might be the most effective way to set up
“birds of a feather” sessions: just a simple announcement that anyone
interested in X can meet for coffee at this time.
Presenters who don’t register for the conference get reminders, emails
urging them to register. That needs to continue.
Archiving the conference
Wayne Miller has arranged a way for interested presenters to add
materials (notes, slides, paper, images, sound files, etc.) the SLSA
2011 program. Your material will appear at the appropriate entry in the
online program. Use this special URL to access the program in edit
[Contact Wayne for the URL at email@example.com]
Find your name in the program, and click on the "Edit" link. You can
upload one document (PDF or PowerPoint) and/or provide one link to
materials elsewhere on the Internet; you can also set how long the
document or link should be available. A confirmation link will be sent
to your email address, and your online materials will be available to
other participants - and the world - as soon as you click on that
We currently have 2 registration fee categories: Faculty and Graduate
Students. There needs to be an acknowledgment of how much the academic
landscape is changing, and the organization needs to explore the
financial implications of that altered landscape. We should at least
strive to recognize the wider range of participation in this conference
beyond those two categories. While the organization does seek to
support broad-based participation, funding issues continue to grow as a
problem for an expanding portion of the membership. Marcel said that
funding did prevent folks from coming to the conference; he probably
received 30 or so emails from people who didn’t have funding.
For some, going to a conference in September was difficult because it
was so early in the semester. Others liked it. The timing of the
conference often is dictated by forces beyond our control, like football
One attendee said she’d like to hear about acceptances sooner.
Immediate past organizers of the conference, Marcel and Richard
expressed willingness to be contacted by those organizing next year’s
Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Executive Board
President: Richard Nash, Indiana University
Executive Director: Carol Colatrella, Georgia Institute of Technology
First Vice-President: Laura Otis, Emory University
Second Vice-President: Robert Markley, University of Illinois at
Members-at-Large: John Bruni, Grand Valley State University, and Kevin
LaGrandeur, New York Institute of Technology (2009-2011); Melissa
Littlefield, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2010-2011);
Suzanne Black, State University of New York at Oneonta (2011-2013).
Past Presidents: Alan Rauch, University of North Carolina-Charlotte;
Bruce Clarke, Texas Tech University; Eve Keller, Fordham University; Jay
Labinger, California Institute of Technology; T. Hugh Crawford, Georgia
Tech; Susan Squier, Penn State; Sidney Perkowitz, Emory University;
Stuart Peterfreund, Northeastern University; James J. Bono,
SUNY-Buffalo; N. Katherine Hayles, UCLA; Mark Greenberg, Drexel
University; Lance Schachterle, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Stephen
J. Weininger, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Configurations Editors: Bruce Clarke, Texas Tech University
(firstname.lastname@example.org); Alan Rauch, University of North
Configurations Book Review Editors: John Bruni, Grand Valley State
University; Jodie Nicotra, University of Idaho; Allison DuShane,
University of Arizona
Publications Committee: 2009-2012--Ron Broglio, University of Arizona;
Rob Mitchell, Duke University; 2009-2011--Elizabeth Wilson, Emory
University; 2011-2014—Susan Squier, Penn State University
Bibliographer: Sue Hagedorn, Virginia Tech (email@example.com)
Electronic Resources Coordinator: Wayne Miller, Duke University
The Executive Director can be reached by phone at (404) 894-1241 or by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carol Colatrella, Executive Director, SLSA, Literature, Communication,
and Culture, Georgia Institute of Technology, 686 Cherry Street,
Atlanta, GA 30332-0165
SLSA websites: http://www.litsciarts.org and http://slsa.press.jhu.edu
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