The 15th Annual Conference of the Marxist Reading Group
Keynote Speakers: Fredric Jameson, Kathi Weeks, Michael Denning, and Kevin Floyd
March 21-23 at the University of Florida
Extended Submission Deadline: January 25, 2013
the economic downturn of 2008, rhetoric about work has permeated
political discourse in the United States, the European Union, and
elsewhere. However, the notion that “work” has inherent, positive value
regardless of its content, consequences, or level of compensation is
seldom challenged. Instead, politicians on both the right and the
left are confident that repeating the word “work” as a kind of
incantation will conjure a safe and shared, if ultimately nebulous, set
of assumptions. In turn, these assumptions are used as a means to
manufacture political consensus, even as work (or its absence) is a
primary determinant of economic and cultural division. Thus, this
conference proposes to follow Marx’s imperative to exit the “noisy”
public sphere “where everything takes place on the surface and in full
view of everyone” and instead enter “into the hidden abode of
production” so that we may better understand the political power of the
word “work,” the concept it signifies, and its material consequences
for workers and non-workers around the world.
This year’s conference of the MRG marks the fifteenth anniversary and
signifies a rejuvenation of the rich tradition of engagement with
Marxism that this conference has come to represent. The MRG invites
scholars to join us in rethinking work, a fundamental but
under-theorized concept in Marxist thought, by submitting scholarly
papers and presentations that investigate work from a Marxist
perspective. We challenge scholars to clarify and explore such
questions as: How does work mediate historical and contemporary social
struggles, political economies, and domestic and international policy?
How can work or the work ethic be periodized within different stages of
capitalism? What have been the historical meanings and values attached
to work in various cultures? In what ways have these notions changed or
remained consistent amid the transition to the twenty-first century
economy? What might work look like in a postcapitalist world?
Why, or why not, work?
Fredric Jameson is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University. His many books include Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, The Modernist Papers, Archaeologies of the Future, Valences of the Dialectic, The Hegel Variations, and Representing Capital.
Kathi Weeks is Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Duke University. She is the author of The Problem with Work and Constituting Feminist Subjects.
Michael Denning teaches American Studies at Yale University. His books include Mechanic Accents, Culture in the Age of Three Worlds, and The Cultural Front.
Kevin Floyd is associate professor of English at Kent State University and author of The Reification of Desire.
Topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Cultural representations of work and work politics
- Work in a globalized economy
- The necessity of unemployment and unpaid labor in capitalism
- Utopian visions of work
- Jobs vs. work vs. labor
- Refusal of work and anti-work politics
- Work and identity politics
- Sex as work and/or anti-work
- The reification of intellectual labor
- Posthumanist conceptions of work
- Disability/inability to work
- Affective labor
- Possibilities for unalienated or de-alienated labor
- The state of the labor movement
Please submit a 250-word abstract for a 20-minute
presentation along with contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org by
January 25, 2013. Please indicate any a/v requests (DVD player and data
projection available). Authors of accepted papers will be notified by
February 3, 2013. For questions concerning the conference, please
contact us at email@example.com. For more information, please visit
our web site: http://www.english.ufl.edu/mrg/.