Communication and Construction of Monstrous Embodiment
June 15-16, 2012

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Bio-Politics Video Journal

If you haven't already heard, earlier this month the new online video journal BioPolitics launched their first issue, Past and Present of Eugenics. The issue features a video dialogue between Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (Emory University), one of our fantastic keynote speakers, and Ruth S. Cowan (University of Pennsylvania), as well as annotations by Rachel Adams, Paul Lombardo, Marisa Miranda, and Gustav Vallejo. The issue also features an interview with Nikolas Rose.

The dialogue "contextualize[s] and complicate[s] the current discussion of eugenic practices" by considering the history of eugenics in relation to contemporary narratives of reproduction and reproductive rights, engaging with issues of disability discrimination, before reflecting on the significance of eugenics and Nazism to modern medical practice.

The next issue of the volume will address the topic of Mental Illness and Leadership, featuring a video dialogue between S. Nassir Ghaemi (Tufts University) and Howard I. Kushner (Emory University), and the journal is currently accepting proposals for future video dialogues pertaining to political, cultural, and ethical perspectives on medicine and politics.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Monsters and the Monstrous

As excited as we are for the launch of our conference registration, we know that the level of interest the event has generated since September far exceeds the number of people who will be travelling to Edinburgh in June. While we hope to see as many of you at the conference as can make it, we also want to continue providing resources support for those of you who can't.

Which is why we are also excited to announce the publication of The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous, edited by Asa Simon Mittman. This sensational book looks to be a landmark release in the field of monster studies, and features essays by conference keynote Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (who brought the collection to our attention), as well as Patricia MacCormack, John Block Friedman, Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Dana Oswald, Debra Higgs Strickland, Karl Steel, and Peter J. Dendle.

Sufficiently weighty, both in mass and in content, from the looks of the table of contents and available excerpts, to justify the list price, there seems little doubt that the Companion will become a stable of monster researchers' libraries everywhere. In an emerging field of study, we can't help but gleefully imagine the shock and awe it will inspire in newly inducted students as it works its way into core course syllabi.

On a lighter, and more literary, note, we would also like to point out that this week marks the "12 Days of Monsters" on the Weird Fiction Review website. Posts by Jeff VanderMeer and Nancy Hightower have already touched on China MiĆ©ville, and throughout the whole week Pretty Monsters, a novella by Kelly Link, is available, as is a free download of VanderMeer's own Monstrous Creatures collection. Well worth keeping an eye on as the week unfolds!

Of course, a reminder that registration, travel, and accommodation info can now be found on the "Fees and Information" page here.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Conference Registration Now Live!

We are very excited to be able to announce that conference registration is now live! We are currently offering reduced advanced booking which will be available until 15 April, after which time the rates will revert to the standard prices. Of course we encourage you to take advantage of the advanced booking rates while you can!

You can register for the conference here. The preliminary conference programme is available here, and information regarding travel to and accommodation in Edinburgh can be found here.

Advanced booking rates (currently online) are as follows:
  • Advanced day-fee (unwaged) - £35
  • Advanced day-fee (waged) - £50
  • Advanced full-fee (unwaged) - £55
  • Advanced full-fee (waged) - £85
The standard booking rates are as follows:
  • Day-fee (unwaged) - £50
  • Day-fee (waged) - £65
  • Full-fee (unwaged) - £70
  • Full-fee (waged) - £100
Day-fee bookings will include access to the conference on the chosen day, as well as access to any additional events which may take place on that day. Please note that conference-related events on days for which you have not registered may carry a small separate fee.

Full-fee bookings include access to all conference events on both days as well as to the conference itself.

Information regarding such external conference events, including a conference dinner, will be made available nearer to the event itself. Please don't hesitate to contact us via e-mail at sdefconference(at) if you have any questions or concerns regarding registration.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Preliminary Conference Programme

At long last, we are very excited to present a preliminary conference programme! Keep in mind that this is still quite early days, but this should give you some indication of the wonderful and exciting papers that will be presented come June.

Registration is also in the works and we very much hope to have that information for you within the week - sooner, if we have curried favour with one assortment of gods or another. There will be an advanced booking rate for those who choose to register by a certain deadline, and we of course encourage you to take advantage of that opportunity if you are able. There will also be reduced rates for unwaged participants, and day rates.

We would like to point out that the monster workshop and film night events are also still in the organisational stage, so the timing may change as things develop. We will post more details as things solidify. If you register for the conference on that date or for both days, you will be automatically able to attend both or either event; there may be an additional small fee for anyone not registered for that date.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who submitted a proposal for the conference. It's difficult to really express how many truly fantastic papers we were sent, and how difficult it was to make decisions when constructing our panel sessions. We hope that as many of you as possible are able to still attend the conference, because if anything the quality and quantity of the proposals we received is an indication of the kind of exciting, innovative, and brilliant scholarship is being undertaken in this area at the moment, and we hope that you are able to come and participate in what will no doubt be a weekend of stunning academic ideas and discussion.

To that end, since we are aware that Edinburgh in June tends to be quite a bustling city, with quite a tourist influx, we have included a new page with details of accommodation ideas and travel details which you can find here, or at the top of the page under the "Coming to Edinburgh" tab. We hope this proves helpful, and that we can meet all of you in a few short months!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Monstrosity of the "Flesh" - Diederik Klomberg

By way of apology for our continued silence this month, we would like to make a peace offering in the form of a stunning piece of film art by Netherlands-based Diederik Klomberg: Flesh. For more of Klomberg's work, visit his website.

This 8-min short film offers what almost feels like a complete sensual envelopment, the soundtrack alone evoking a sensation perhaps akin to being bathed in amniotic fluid. The womb-like audio experience is paired alongside a mesmerising transformation of flesh as clitoris becomes ear, becomes bellybutton, becomes nipple. The film is a seamless mutation of the body in which folds, crevices, orifices, and unbroken skin melt into one another with a recklessness abandonment of the traditions of human form.

Flesh is a cinematic creation of the monstrous body in pieces, the body that is always already in the process of becoming both itself and its fleshly other. Each dissected, high definition pound of flesh becomes as alien as the Elephant Man's tumorous excess, or one of H.G. Geiger's biomechanical creatures. Each image is carved out of the healthy body to take on a life of its own; the breathing, pulsing soundtrack is not that of the body in-toto, but of a new, foreign body that quivers and grows as sphincters expand and an expanse of smooth skin crumples into canyons.

Since we are in the process of setting up registration and putting together a preliminary conference schedule, updates may be few and far between yet (although we hope to see a change in that pattern soon). Until then, treat yourself for about 8 minutes. There's really nothing quite like getting lost in a rolling tide of flesh and finding yourself confronted with the glorious monstrosity of a perfectly normal nostril.