Monday, November 24, 2008

Virtual Conference in the Humanities & Social Sciences


I know I've mentioned this once before here at In The Middle, but since the deadline for the submission of paper abstracts is January 1st, I thought I would push it again: Blackwell Compass's first-ever virtual conference in the humanities and social sciences on "Breaking Down Barriers," which will take place October 19th through 30th in 2009. There have already been hundreds of papers submissions from places as far-flung as India, China, Indonesia, and Russia, as well many of the usual suspects in North America and the U.K. and I think this represents a unique opportunity for those of us in medieval studies to dialogue with scholars working in other periods and disciplines on global subjects related to the environment, justice and human rights, border crossings, new modes of communication, and new paradigms for research. It's also a fantastic opportunity to be able to present a paper to an international audience without the high costs of international travel or adding to the carbon footprint [and also: registration is FREE]. Note, also, that Blackwell is going to offer formal commentaries and peer review of all accepted papers, which will then also be published in one of Blackwell's Compass journals! [It is hoped that all papers will tackle more than one discipline.] It's also exciting that Blackwell has decided to have a medievalist [me] as one of the keynote speakers, along with an historian who works on the history of fascism, a scholar of the English language and Shakespearean English, a social psychologist who works on identity, emotions, and modes of belonging, a philosopher who works on generative linguistics, and a physical geographer who works on alluvial archaeology. My own talk is going to focus on what I see as some possible productive convergences between work in medieval studies on identity, "personhood," "being human," and transversal inter-subjectivities [by, for example, David Gary Shaw, Jeffrey Cohen, Carolyn Dinshaw, Steven Kruger, Sarah Kay, Cary Howie, Glenn Burger, Karl Steel, and Karma Lochrie, among others] and current discourses on human rights. And I think it would be important to have as many medievalists as possible participating with me and others in this discussion. The conference is also going to have a Second Life component, and I have agreed to create an avatar for myself and also participate in the conference on that level, which I think represents yet another exciting avenue for expanding the work of In The Middle and the BABEL Working Group. The more full information from Blackwell on the conference is as follows:


Blackwell Compass Interdisciplinary Virtual Conference: “Breaking Down Barriers”

19-30 October 2009

Join the largest online meeting of minds in the social sciences and humanities

Location: ONLINE | Free registration


Registration Is Free! To register visit

The first Compass online conference aims to help break academic boundaries - within and between disciplines, between theory and practice, approaches and methodologies - by providing a space for multi and cross disciplinary review on the theme of Breaking Down Barriers.

Abstracts are invited for survey/review papers from the disciplines of History, Literature, Philosophy, Religion, Geography, Linguistics, Sociology, and Social Psychology. In particular, we welcome papers that explore the issues of Paradigms | Borders | The Environment | Communication | Justice and Human Rights

Keynote Speakers include:

PROFESSOR ROGER GRIFFIN - Oxford Brookes University (History/Politics)

PROFESSOR DAVID CRYSTAL - University of Wales, Bangor (Language/Linguistics)

DR ROY BAUMEISTER - Florida State University (Social Psychology)

PROFESSOR PETER LUDLOW - Northwestern University (Philosophy)

DR EILEEN JOY - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Literature)

PROFESSOR MARK MACKLIN - University of Wales, Aberystwyth (Physical Geography)


- Abstract submission deadline: 1 January 2009

- An Abstract submission template is available here. Send your abstracts to

- Papers will be peer-reviewed. Each accepted paper will receive two formal commentaries plus comments from attendees and will be published in one of the Compass journals. Preference will be given to papers which hold interest for more than one discipline.

For more information on the conference and instructions for authors visit the home page for the conference at Blackwell Compass.

For more information on the Compass journals visit

Please contact if you have any queries regarding this event.


Anachronista said...

Should you need assistance with the learning curve of Second Life, please ask me and I'll help you through it.

Eileen Joy said...

Thanks for that, Anachronista; I very well might. I have already spent a few hours on it and it is really disorienting. My avatar's name is Simone Haiku. I won't likely get back to it in earnest until the semester ends post-mid-December.

Mary Kate Hurley said...

I find this idea really impressive -- it seems like a part of what we'd all been hoping technology would allow us to do is actually beginning to happen. It's also a useful thing to do with Second Life, which is something I'm happy to see -- though I don't know if it makes it more or less like Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash.