2019 Call for Papers


2019 Neil Postman Graduate Conference

New York University, Department of Media, Culture, and Communications

New York City, New York, USA

November 1, 2019



Abstracts Due: June 15, 2019

What is coming to pass? How do we experience that which is passing us everyday?

From coastal vantages, friends and lovers wish safe passage with the wave of a hand. In the berths of ships, this security is furnished both through documents of passage — visas, tickets, logbooks — as well as the logistics of oceanic travel and maneuvers of the ship.

Yet transversal, identity, and its mediations sometimes run athwart of each other. After failed attempts, user and password meet interface as impasse. Students get caught lulling in the hallway without a pass only to face the fury of administrators. No, safe passage is not guaranteed. It is a matter of strategy and planning. Taking on the clothes, haircuts, language, and gestures of gendered, sexualized, or racialized normativity, we inhabit forms of passing only to reject them in more familiar community.

Saying passage is a matter of survival is to point to both the quotidian and the crisis. One moment, we’re occupying the ethics of the sociality. Someone says, “Pass the salt.” And the next, that someone has “passed on”. Passage directs us from one register to another, from one world to another. These are not merely euphemisms. Our rituals, rites of passage direct us forward. They are not something we can pass up.

The 2019 Postman Graduate Conference invites graduate students, artists, and independent scholars to submit projects that attend to passage and acts of passing. Recognizing the mobility of the concept, the selection committee welcomes interdisciplinary responses, artist’s talks, and academic presentations which meditate on passing and its possibilities as modes of inquiry and survival.

Possible topics include (but are by no means limited to):

  • Temporalities of passage
  • Borders, nation-states, securitization, and migration
  • Strategies of trespassing
  • The experience and aesthetics of passing
  • The materialities and measurements of sensation
  • Gendered and/or racialized performativity as “passing”
  • Risk, speculation, and logistics
  • Blackness and the Middle Passage
  • Debility, capacity, and technological mediation
  • Surveillance and policing of affect
  • Modes of evidence and witnessing
  • Biopolitics, necropolitics, sovereignty, and capital
  • Forms of political violence
  • Rites of passage and passage as religious motif
  • The passage and literature
  • Translations across languages, ontologies, and epistemologies

Please email submissions to postman.nyu@gmail.com by June 15, 2019. Abstracts should be 250-300 words in length, formatted as Word documents (.doc, .docx), and accompanied by a CV.