I am a PhD fellow at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. My PhD research, titled 'Missing Limbs', focuses on the discursive formation of the phantom limb. While there have been several accounts of sensations and pain in missing body parts from the Middle Age onwards, these only seem to have found provenance in the body of quadruple amputee George Dedlow, a character conceived by the physician Silas Weir Mitchell (1829-1914) in an anonymously published, fictitious case report. Five years after this initial apparition in fiction, Mitchell first postulated the condition in his 1881 article 'Phantom Limbs', based on accounts of injured men who had fought in the American Civil War. In this research, I intend to trace these phantom foot steps and analyse under what circumstances the missing may enter our field of perception.
Interdisciplinary workshop 3-6 July 2015, Hiddensee, Germany
During this 4-day intensive interdisciplinary workshop, organized by Moosje M. Goosen (ASCA, University of Amsterdam) and Andrea Zittlau (North American Studies, University of Rostock), we will bring together a group of max. 20 people from different fields (arts, humanities, sciences) at the extraordinary location of Hiddensee island to exchange and formulate ideas about absence.
In our present day what “matters” to us socially, economically, and scientifically seems once again driven by matter and measure, i.e. by visibility, evidence, quantification, solvability, etc. In such a worldview absence might well become absent from our thinking. Nevertheless, absence – always without essence – keeps being with us in meaningful ways, destabilising our ontological certainties and sense of being. And indeed, one may ask, “What is sensed when we sense an absence?” For absence is often a sensation, or an experience of the senses.
Following Jacques Derrida’s critique on the privilege given to presence and being, with this four-day interdisciplinary workshop we propose to un-focus on the many presences of our contemporary existence, so that absence may enter our view. The Matter of Absence is an attempt to brainstorm and speculate collectively: in bringing together diverse readings and understandings of absence, we hope to facilitate a discussion that will enrich each respective research and projects.
Please send a 250 word abstract describing how you encounter or deal with absence in your (academic/scientific/artistic/literary) work by January 15, 2015, plus a biography (max. 300 words) to Moosje M. Goosen (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands): firstname.lastname@example.org and Andrea Zittlau (North American Studies, Rostock University, Germany): email@example.com.
Places are limited to 15 participants.