Our Conference

University of Wisconsin, Madison

February 20-22nd, 2014


Building on the success of our 2012 conference, “Gendered Borders and Queer Frontiers,” the graduate students of the Program in Gender and Women’s History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison are proud to announce our 2014 conference: “Material Bodies / Contested Fantasies.”  Although hosted by the history department, we envision this as an interdisciplinary conference. Our keynote speakers are Elizabeth Heineman (University of Iowa) and Victoria Langland (University of Michigan).

Through the themes of the material and the fantastic we will explore the interplay between the tangible realities that humans live and the imaginary spaces and images that affect how they see the world. Bodies, in all of their sexed and gendered variations, allow us to look at the interaction between material and imagined experience. Just as capitalism, consumerism, culture and society shape and modify human desires, people, in turn, devise their own visions of the world and strive to realize them in practice. We wish to explore how people’s desires become material realities and how structures like capitalism, society, and culture mediate the distance between material experience and imagined experience.

Our concept of fantasy includes visual images, advertisements, clothing, notions of a better world, a revolution, a movement, or a change. But how people imagine these better futures for them and for society is never simple nor singular. So rarely do fantasies–sexual, political, economic, social–play out uncontested. The material reality of the lives we lead, the systems in which our bodies operate, do not always match with our imaginaries. The marketplace of desire shapes our sense of what is possible, what is real, and what is (un)attainable. We hope you can attend! See our CFP here.


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