Slow: A Symposium in Praxis & Theory – 2019

Slow: A Symposium in Praxis & Theory

Co-hosted by MCLA’s The MInd’s Eye & MASS MoCA

The Mind’s Eye, a symposium initiative and online journal of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in collaboration with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) invites scholars, critics, visual artists, creative writers, activists, curators, and other cultural practitioners to submit abstracts for an interdisciplinary symposium engaging “slowness” as a praxis and theoretical framework. “Slow: A Symposium in Praxis & Theory” will be held at MASS MoCA on November 1, 2019.

Efficiency, immediate results, short term profits: these are driving forces of modernity. Meanwhile, slowness may connote laziness, wastefulness, and lack of planning. Our obsession with speed in a highly specialized, industrialized, and digitalized age is narrowly driven by the demands of capitalism, which consigns “slowness” to the bin of unwanted qualities. However, key aspects to our development and survival as a species demand time and commitment. Human relationships are gradual to foster; changes brought by social movements happen by degrees; scientific breakthroughs are proceeded by extensive research; art-making calls for continual practice and renewal. Recent works across a number of disciplines as well as from within popular culture have engaged “slow” as temporal point of interest: Carl Honoré’s evocation of the “slow movement” as a lifestyle and philosophy; Shari Tishman’s influential call for “slow looking” in museum and educational settings; the emergence of time studies as a theoretical field evidenced, for example, in Joel Burges and Amy J. Elias’s anthology, Time: A Vocabulary of the Present (NYU Press, 2016). Importantly, as environmental humanist Rob Nixon has argued, the “slow violence” of environmental destruction gives us pause to broadly consider if slowness is the antithesis to speed’s ruination. In a contemporary moment which poses urgent socio-political, environmental, and economic threats, we can ask how slowness offers not a remedy but an alternative temporal modality to acceleration.

We welcome proposals for presentations in a variety of formats: individual papers, panels featuring 3-4 participants, or roundtables featuring 5-6 participants.

We are particularly interested in presentations that engage the topic of “slowness” from an interdisciplinary approach and welcome speakers from across fields. Suggested topics include:

  • Temporalities of scale
  • Incremental forms of oppression, violence, and death
  • Countercultural movements of slowness i.e. in food, art, museums, film, music, cities, science, broadcast communication
  • Questions of progress
  • Matters of recognition, recuperation, and recovery
  • Contemplative approaches i.e. in the arts, scholarship, design, medicine 

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Tina Campt, Professor of Africana Studies & Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (Barnard College) and author of Listening to Images (Duke University, 2017)

Symposium Organizers: Victoria Papa, Assistant Professor of English (MCLA); Guangzhi Huang, Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies (MCLA); Laura Thompson, Education Director of MASS MoCA