Deforming the Humanities

THATCamps promote themselves as “Unconferences,” which is to say that they are defined less by what they are, and more by what they are not. We are coming together to engage both in a set of practices that are celebrated for their spontaneity and lack of pretense as well as for the conversations and idea that they generate. Put another way, disassembling a conventional practice, the academic conference, makes space for (and perhaps can be said to cause) something else to be produced.

In a recent blog post, Mark Sample makes the provocative claim that “The Deformed Humanities . . . will prove to be the most vibrant and generative of all the many strands of the humanities. It is a legitimate mode of scholarship, a legitimate mode of doing and knowing. Precisely because it relies on undoing and unknowing.” I’m interested in this practice of deformation/deformance/deforming and therefore propose a session that considers the practice more fully, or perhaps unconsiders it, since we are unconferencing.

What might these Deformed Humanities look like in practice both pedagogically and critically. If we accept the premise that “deforming” can be productive, what could or would be produced? Practices? Insights? Something else entirely?

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