WELCOME TO THE
Third International Conference
of the Whitehead Research Project

Date: December 3-5, 2009
Location: Claremont, California


Plenary Presenter: Judith Butler

This conference is the first set of formal conversations bringing together the dynamic philosophies of two eminent thinkers: Judith Butler and Alfred North Whitehead. Each has drawn from a wide palette of disciplines to develop distinctive theories of becoming, of syntactical violence, and of the creative opportunities of limitation. What contrasts and affinities exist between their modes of thought? What new questions, strategies, and critiques emerge by juxtaposing their distinctive perspectives?

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General Information

Third International Conference
Date: December 3-5, 2009
Location: Claremont, California

This third international conference of the Whitehead Research Project, “Becomings, Misplacements, Departures: Butler and Whitehead as Catalysts for Contemporary Thought,” is the first set of formal conversations bringing together the dynamic philosophies of two eminent thinkers: Judith Butler and Alfred North Whitehead.  Each has drawn from a wide palette of disciplines to develop distinctive theories of becoming, of syntactical violence, and of the creative opportunities of limitation. What contrasts and affinities exist between their modes of thought? What new questions, strategies, and critiques emerge by juxtaposing their distinctive perspectives?  In line with the “initial aim” of WRP and the first two conferences, on Badiou, Deleuze and Whitehead, this conference seeks to generate novel interfaces, stimulate interdisciplinary innovation, and provoke unexpected impulses for philosophical discourse in our complex world. 

 “Becomings, Misplacements, Departures” expresses the themes of this conference as matters of common interest in such a conversation with/on/between Butler and Whitehead. The title also reflects the profoundly transdisciplinary scope of its endeavour: How can we give an account of our concerted becomings in a complex world of structural violence? What philosophical, social and political powers of destruction are enacted by misplacing concrete becoming through essentializing, reductionist and power-stabilizing abstractions? How might processive theories and performative practices enable modes of departure from fixed and controllable identities, categories, or ideals? These questions imply wide consequences for the pressing issues of our contemporary world: ecologically, ethically, politically, philosophically, aesthetically and regarding the habits of humanity in an ever-changing and power-riddled world.

Judith Butler has become one of the pre-eminent symbols of a contemporary philosophical stream that only imperfectly is described as poststructuralist or deconstructive, as anti-foundationalist and non-essentialist, text-oriented critique. Drawing variously on Hegel, Nietzsche, Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, and engaging feminist literary and political theorists Irigaray, Wittig, Kristeva, Levinas, Benjamin, and others, her work has spanned from a critical theorizing of the genesis of gender, sex, and sexuality, to bodily subjectivity, subversive speech acts, and the inauguration of queer theory.  In recent work, Butler has extended her notions of the unending becoming of social relations to critique the violence of contemporary political regimes that foreclose human freedoms and felt vulnerabilities, reproducing a widespread melancholy of the social sphere. She continues to explore the political, ethical, and agential implications of never self-referential and never fully disclosed identities in a complex world of demands and to propose the promise of that which exceeds our categorization.

Alfred North Whitehead, despite the widespread misperception of his representing a pre-Kantian, pre-Heideggerian, and pre-Derridian metaphysical age, is one of the most valuable and unexpectedly creative recourses for today’s poststructuralist and anti-essentialist discourses on ontology, art, literature, ethics, and politics. True to the deconstructive endeavour of reading the repressed subtexts of philosophical tradition, engaging Butler and Whitehead simultaneously only furthers the possibility and necessity of a new reading of Whitehead as precisely and paradoxically in the line of ancestry of these deconstructive, anti-foundationalist, power-critical, feminist, and ecological-political discourses.  Whitehead’s visions of a multiverse of ultimately uncontrollable becoming, of the compulsory corporality and sociality of all existence, and of the creative resources of activity and activation in the modes of past, present and future, make him a true resource in the aporias of contemporary thought in a troubled world.

Considered together, Butler and Whitehead delineate a whole new cadre of approaches to long-standing problems as well as never-before asked questions in the humanities. The two thinkers share a critique of the metaphysics of substance but bring different resources and schools of thought to bear. What do the various contrasts and affinities between them offer?  Can there be creative advance? What does it mean to understand subjective relativity or the dynamics of translation as universal?  What is the status of any “universal” claim?  How do we widen the sea of feeling for future relational possibilities?  How might the agency and value of human subjectivity be exposed as the subject is left behind?  How do we approach subjectivity and objectivity, becomings and departures of humans and humanity in an ecological paradigm?  Can the corset of the repressive subject-predicate syntax of philosophical discourse be evaded, exceeded, or at least limited?  How might limitation, freedom, and non-violence interrelate?  Are there dynamic or non-categorical modes of thought?  How do we theorize the play of temporality and untimeliness?  How might creative power simultaneously converge and diverge? 

In bringing together internationally renowned interpreters of Butler and Whitehead, really callers in the desert of destructive humanity, from a variety of fields and disciplines—philosophy, rhetoric, gender and queer studies, religion, literary and political theory—we hope to set a standard for the relevance of interdisciplinary philosophical discourse today.  This conference offers a unique contribution to and for the humanities in the hegemonic struggle of politics, economy, ecology, and the arts, by reaching beyond their closed circles toward understandings that may serve as the basis for the activation of humanity today.

Call for Student Papers

Conference Date:  December 3-5, 2009
Location:  Claremont, California
Paper Submission Due:  Monday, August 31, 2009 to rfaber@ctr4process.org
Conference Websitewhiteheadresearch.org/butler-whitehead

The Whitehead Research Project (WRP) is hosting a major international event that will feature scholars who are specialists in the thought of Judith Butler and Alfred North Whitehead.  In line with the “initial aim” of WRP, this conference seeks to generate novel interfaces, stimulate interdisciplinary innovation, and provoke unexpected impulses for philosophical discourse in our complex world. 

In particular, we are asking students to focus on and around distinctive theories of becoming, of syntactical violence, and of the creative opportunities of limitation.  Specific questions to address are:

-What contrasts and affinities exist between Butler’s and Whitehead’s thought?
-What new questions, strategies, and critiques emerge by juxtaposing their distinct perspectives? 

Submissions should be presentable in 15 minutes, and must make a philosophical contribution.  Please include an abstract of no more than 250 words. All papers and abstracts should be sent to the organizer of the conference, Dr. Roland Faber, no later than August 31st. Submissions should be sent electronically to rfaber@ctr4process.org, and should include:

  1. Your paper (with no identifications of the author within the text)
  2. Abstract (also without identifications)

A separate cover page with your name, paper title, institutional affiliation, telephone number, e-mail address and mailing address.

Presenters & Papers

Plenary Presenter: Judith Butler

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University in 1984. She is the author of Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (Columbia University Press, 1987), Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge, 1990), Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (Routledge, 1993), The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection (Stanford University Press, 1997), Excitable Speech (Routledge, 1997).... (view complete bio)

Ellen T. Armour, Vanderbilt University, TN (view bio)

Paper Title: "Becoming Terri Schiavo" (view abstract)

Jeffrey Bell, Southeastern Louisiana University, LA (view bio)

Paper Title: "Modes of Violence Whitehead, Deleuze, and the Displacement of Neoliberalism" (view abstract)

Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley, CA (view bio)

Paper Title: "" (view abstract)

Dan Dombrowski, Seattle University, WA (view bio)

Paper Title: "Which Lives Are Grievable?" (view abstract)

Roland Faber, Claremont Graduate University, CA (view bio)

Paper Title: "Khora and Violence: Revisiting Butler with Whitehead" (view abstract)

Jeremy Fackenthal, Claremont Graduate University, CA (view bio)

Paper Title: "Ethical Engagement and the Adventure of Ideas: Creative Possibility within the Limitation of Discourse" (view abstract)

Kirsten Gerdes, Claremont Graduate University, CA

Paper Title: "Deconstruction and Multiplicity of Selves: Searching for Political and Ethical Possibilities in de Man, Butler, and Whitehead" (view abstract)

Sigridur Gudmarsdottir, Independent Researcher, Iceland (view bio)

Paper Title: "Opacity and Phallacy of Misplaced Closetness: Coming Out with Butler and Whitehead" (view abstract)

Michael Halewood, University of Essex, UK (view bio)

Paper Title: "Language, the Body and the Problem of Signification" (view abstract)

Christina Hutchins, Pacific School of Religion, CA (view bio)

Paper Title: "Feeling Faring Forth: Reading Departures as Thresholds of Radiant Aftereffect and Essential Humanity" (view abstract)

Catherine Keller, Drew University, NJ (view bio)

Paper Title: "Undoing and Unknowing: the widening relations of J Butler and A N Whitehead" (view abstract)

Deena Lin, Claremont Graduate University, CA (view bio)

Paper Title: "Prehending Precarity: Presenting a Social Ontology that Feels Beyond the Frame" (view abstract)

Astrid Lorange, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia (view bio)

Paper Title: "'Lovely snipe and tender turn': Reading a Steinian grammar-event as subversive bodily act" (view abstract)

Andrea Stephenson, Claremont Graduate University, CA (view bio)

Paper Title: "An Ethic of Connectedness and Narrativity in Whitehead and Butler" (view abstract)

Alan van Wyk, Claremont Graduate University, CA (view bio)

Paper Title: "The Feeling of What Matters: Vectors of Power in Butler and Whitehead" (view abstract)

Respondents

  • Monica Coleman
  • Trisha Famisaran
  • Krista Hughes
  • Randy Ramal
  • Marc Redfield
  • Jeanyne Slettom
  • Edith Vasquez

Schedule

Thursday, December 3rd

2:00-4:30pm
Albrecht Auditorium,
CGU

STUDENT COUNCIL
Responding: Judith Butler

5:30-7:00
Albrecht Auditorium, 
CGU

INTRODUCTIONS
Roland Faber (Executive Director, WRP)
Marc Redfield (Dean, School of Arts and Humanities)
Anselm Min (Dean, School of Religion)

PUBLIC LECTURE I (Double Lecture)
Catherine Keller: “Undoing and Unknowing: the widening relations of J Butler and A N Whitehead”
Ellen T. Armour: “Becoming Terri Schiavo”

Respondent: J. Butler

7:00-7:15

Break

7:15
Stauffer 110, CGU 

Reception

Friday, December 4th

9:00-10:30
Albrecht Auditorium, 
CGU

DOUBLE LECTURE
Roland Faber: “Khora and Violence: Revisiting Butler with Whitehead”
Sigridour Guomarsdottir: "Opacity and Phallacy of Misplaced Closetness: Coming Out with Butler and Whitehead"

Commentator Krista Hughes

10:30-11:00

Break

11:00-12:30
Albrecht Auditorium, 
CGU

DOUBLE LECTURE (25 minutes each)
Andrea Stephenson: “An Ethic of Connectedness and Narrativity in Whitehead and Butler”
Dan Dombrowski: “Which Lives Are Grievable?”

Commentator: Randy Ramal

12:30-2:00
Stauffer 110 & 106, 
CGU

Lunch

2:00-3:30
Albrecht Auditorium, 
CGU

DOUBLE LECTURE (25 minutes each)
Alan Van Wyk: “The Feeling of What Matters: Vectors of Power in Butler and Whitehead”
Jeffrey Bell: “Modes of Violence Whitehead, Deleuze, and the Displacement of Neoliberalism”

Commentator Jeanyne Slettom

3:30-4:00

Break

4:00-5:30
Albrecht Auditorium, 
CGU

STUDENT PANEL (4 x 15 minutes each)
Deena Lin: “Prehending Precarity: Presenting a Social Ontology that Feels Beyond the Frame”
Jeremy Fackenthal: “Ethical Engagement and the Adventure of Ideas:  Creative Possibility within the Limitation of Discourse”
Kirsten Gerdes: “Deconstruction and Multiplicity of Selves: Searching for Political and Ethical Possibilities in de Man, Butler, and Whitehead”
Astrid Lorange: “Lovely snipe and tender turn”: Reading a Steinian grammar-event as subversive bodily act”

Commentator: Trisha Famisaran

5:30-6:30
Mudd Theatre, CST

Break

6:30-8:00
Mudd Theater, CST

PUBLIC LECTURE II
Judith Butler

8:00
Butler 201, CST

Dinner

Saturday, December 5th

9:00-10:30
Albrecht Auditorium, 
CGU

DOUBLE LECTURE (25 minutes each)
Christina Hutchins: “Feeling Faring Forth: Reading Departures as Thresholds of Radiant Aftereffect and Essential Humanity”
Michael Halewood: “Language, the Body and the Problem of Signification”

Commentator: Monica Coleman

10:30-11:00

Break

11:00-12:30
Albrecht Auditorium, 
CGU

FINAL PANEL (3x25 min.)
Marc Redfield, Randy Ramal, Edith Vasquez,

Comments on the Conference: Judith Butler

12:30-1:30
Stauffer 110, CGU

Lunch

Registration

  1. The public lectures are free, open to the public, and do not require registration.
  2. Registration is free for faculty, students, and staff of the Claremont Colleges and Claremont School of Theology.
  3. For all other individuals, the fees are as follows:
    Entire Conference: $125 | Daily Rate: $50

Registration provides the following: participation in the non-public portions of the conference, the opportunity to engage in the discussions of the panelists, snacks and lunch each day, and a conference packet with a copy of each of the papers written by the panelists.

REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED.




Logistics & Contact Information

Conference Locations

The bulk of the conference will be held in Albrecht Auditorium (in Stauffer Hall) on the campus of Claremont Graduate University. However, the public lecture by Judith Butler on Friday (6:30-8:00pm) will be held at Mudd Theater at Claremont School of Theology. Click here for a map of and directions to campus, a google map, or a mapquest map.

Hotel Information

Either of the following hotels should be able to nicely accommodate most any of your needs: The Doubletree Hotel Claremont or the Hotel Claremont & Tennis Club. The Doubletree is within walking distance of campus, but both are equally recommended. Shuttle service to and from the airport is available, and service to and from CGU will be provided for conference registrants.

Contact Us

Click here to submit a question or comment online.

Offline Contact Information

Whitehead Research Project
Attn: Beyond Metaphysics? Conference
1325 North College Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711
Phone: (909) 621-5330
Fax: (909) 621-2760

Our office is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. PST.




Sponsors

  • Whitehead Research Project info | website
  • Claremont School of Theology info | website
  • Thornton F. Bradshaw Endowment Fund at CGU info | website
  • School of Arts & Humanities at CGU info | website
  • Transdisciplinary Studies at CGU info | website
  • The School of Religion at CGU info | website
  • The Center for Process Studies info | website
  • Pomona College info | website
  • Intercollegiate Women's Studies of the Claremont Colleges info | website