Fifth Annual Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Student Conference

We are pleased to invite you to the Fifth Annual Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Student Conference which will take place on March 16-17, 2018 at the University of California Merced. The conference theme this year is “Precarity and Possibility: Imaginings of a New Academy.” 

In the past two decades, scholarship in the humanities has sought to redefine the boundaries of disciplinary work in order to expand the ways we both produce and disseminate knowledge. The emerging field of interdisciplinary humanities attempts to bridge established disciplines with new modes of scholarly inquiry in order to account for the limitations of traditional disciplinary work. The Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Student Conference engages with this emerging field as one of the few interdisciplinary humanities programs in the nation that is located at the University of California, Merced, the first research university built in the U.S. in the 21st century. This unique formation of humanities makes UC Merced an important site to engage in discussion about precarity and possibility of the human, field formation, and the role of the university.  

The establishment of the university occurred in an age of neoliberalism defined by market-driven, corporate ideals that advocate for the standardization and commodification of education. Scholars in the humanities have began to critique the neoliberal university as a site of precarity for students who face growing debt and job insecurity and who come from targeted communities. This conference furthers this cause to critique those sites of precarity, but also to locate the university as a critical space of resistance. The theme for the 2018 Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Student Conference, “precarity and possibility” seeks to explore sites of vulnerability and unpredictability as sites of imagination and promise. While vulnerable communities face real threats of violence and death, the conjunction of “precarity and possibility” is a reminder that the people inhabiting those communities are living and always already resisting. Following Edward Said who preferred to feel “not quite right” and “out of place,” this conference invites inquiry that foregrounds moments of dissonance and tension as moments of imaginative re-configurations of the world.

While the work we do as humanists varies by time, region, and space, we all exist within the modern context of the neoliberal university. Therefore, this conference seeks to explore the possibilities of the humanities particularly at a time when the humanities is being increasingly devalued and defunded. This theme responds to Sylvia Wynter’s theorizing of “demonic grounds,” systems that do not have a determined outcome, as opportunities to redefine the epistemologies and methodologies that frame our work. For humanists, Wynter’s “demonic grounds” signifies a call to engage in  “trans-disciplinarity,” a transcendence of traditional disciplines, a practice that values interconnectedness and collaboration in the academy. This conference encourages the exploration of the dialectical relationship between the precarity posed by neoliberalism and the possibilities of transdisciplinary dialogues. 

The Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Student Conference Committee welcomes proposals from all graduate students conducting scholarship within the humanities. While proposals that respond directly to the conference theme are encouraged, all topics regardless of region, temporality, or discipline will be considered in order to ensure cross-disciplinary dialogue. 

Please submit 300 word abstracts for: individual papers, presentation, poster, or panel proposals, along with a brief CV, or any questions to: The deadline to submit a proposal is December 15, 2017. The conference will be held on March 16-17, 2018 at the University of California, Merced. For more information visit: 

Possible presentation topics and research fields include but are by no means limited to the following:

  • Critical race and ethnic studies
  • (Pre)historic memory and social imagination
  • Critical archeology
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Labor and working class mobilizations and movements
  • Digital and public humanities
  • Critical intellectual history
  • Immigration, nationalism, and citizenship
  • Empire, colonialism, and third world politics
  • Religion, philosophy, and theology
  • Emotion and affective theory
  • Pedagogical models and philosophy
  • Decolonial anthropology
  • Subjugated knowledges
  • Media and visual cultural studies


We look forward to your submissions!