CFP: Transforming Contagion

Call for Papers: Symposium: “Transforming Contagion

Location: Arizona State University’s West campus (Phoenix, AZ) Date: Friday, October 23, 2015

We invite proposals for an exciting symposium on the topic of Transforming Contagion.  This transdisciplinary and transhistorical symposium aims to explore contagion in its broadest sense by including perspectives about the spread, transmission, and modalities of contagion, and how contagion has been variously defined, imagined, and subjected to regulation and/or exploitation. By “contagion,” we do not necessarily mean only that which occurs in the body or within the framework of embodiment, but also contagions rooted in the literary, psychological, moral, educational, or political. We thus invite papers from any historical period or methodological approach that consider the complicated topic of contagion.  Further, we invite papers that postulate how contagion itself might be transformed, deployed as a model for propagating revolutionary ideas, feelings, and beliefs, or utilized as a lens through which we can understand and critique our social and material world.  We particularly invite papers that are radical, creative, feminist, boundary-smashing, intersectional, politically relevant, and wildly interdisciplinary.

Topics may include, but are certainly not limited to:

Theorizing Contagion, past and present, including:

  • Modes of Spread (genres and mediums of communication including print, periodicals, theater/spectacle, poetry, the novel, film, television, music, video games, media feeding frenzies, social media such as Twitter/Facebook, twenty-four hour news such as Fox/MSNBC)
  • Medical Diagnoses of Contagions and their Impact (plague, smallpox, tuberculosis, typhus, malaria, cholera, HIV, Ebola, Bird Flu, infant mortality, smog/pollution, viruses that impact human hosts)

Contagion and Embodiment, past and present, including:

  • Gendering Disorders (humoral disorders, wandering womb, nostalgia, hysteria, neurasthenia, melancholia, depression, psychopathology, schizophrenia, madness, body image, psychosomatic complaints, menstrual synchrony, Premenstral dysphoric disorder, PTSD, diseases that spread, madwomen in the attic)
  • Pathologizing Sexualities and Practices (the pox, Contagious Diseases Acts, prostitution, HIV, sex work, pornography, menstrual synchrony, reproductive rights, identities, desires/desirability, shaving, tattoos, sexting, fashion, consumption, sexual practices)
  • Racialized Contagions (pathologized spaces, immigration, public health, racialization of Ebola, racist media coverage, violence in Ferguson)
  • Disability and Contagion (rethinking ability and functionality, autism and vaccines controversy, “catching” disabilities, genetic testing, obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADD, social phobias)

Contagion and the Social, past and present, including:

  • Interpersonal Passions and Social Emotions (panic, anxiety, fear, the sublime, joy, sadness, distress, trauma, moral panics, collective depression, apathy)
  • Revolutionary Feelings (activism, incitement to violence, political protest, anarchy, political rallies, social movements, collective madness)
  • Collectivity and Crowd Behavior (mobs, multitudes, crowd funding, public performance art, sports crazes, hegemonic masculinity, attacking female gamers/GamerGate, moral outrages)

Transforming Contagion, thinking for the future, including:

  • Pedagogical Contagions (women’s studies/ethnic studies as a virus, teaching feminist students, transmission of feeling within the academy, mentor/mentee relationships, sustainability)
  • “Going viral” (anything that sparks, ignites, takes off, orexplodes in the public sphere)

Proposals should include a title, contact information, institutional affiliation and field, abstract of approximately 250-500 words, and should specify whether you would like to be considered for an individual paper (approximately 20 minutes each), or for brief roundtable presentations (5-10 minutes) followed by open discussions with attendees.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The organizers are planning an edited collection based on these papers and will also invite selected papers from the symposium to join this volume. We accomplished this goal after our last symposium in Fall 2011 (The Moral Panics of Sexuality, Palgrave, published 2013).

The day-long symposium will include keynote speakers, an informal lunch, and a variety of concurrent panel and roundtable sessions.  Registration will be free to all but pre-registration is required.

The conference will be located at Arizona State University’s West campus in sunny Phoenix, Arizona (approximately 20 minute drive from the Phoenix airport).  October promises to bring warm—not hot!—weather and plenty of opportunity for desert merriment and relaxation.

We have reserved a block of rooms at the Embassy Suites Phoenix North, 2577 West Greenway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85023, (602) 375-1777.  The rate of $99.00 includes a suite with separate living room and bedrooms, full cooked-to-order breakfast buffet, evening cocktail reception, free wifi, and several gorgeous outdoor swimming pools.  Ask for the “ASU West” rate when booking.

Send submissions to  Please direct all inquiries to this address and you will receive a prompt response.  The organizers include Breanne Fahs (Women and Gender Studies), Annika Mann (English), Eric Swank (Sociology), and Sarah Stage (History/Women and Gender Studies), all from Arizona State University.

For more information and updates, please visit our website at:

 Proposals are due April 30th, 2015