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Black-Boxing Modernism (MSA 17)

The "black box" thought experiment offers a model for understanding communication that recognizes the fundamental blindness of any observer to the internal mechanisms at work in its objects of study and external interlocutors. From a black box perspective, blindness and ignorance motivate the drive to develop creative means of understanding input-output reactions—of identifying patterns of communication despite persistent uncertainty. Clerk Maxwell originally theorized the black box in the nineteenth century, and W. Ross Ashby brought it to prominence in his 1956 Introduction to Cybernetics. How might the distinct relationship the black box establishes between knowledge and ignorance, observation and opacity, transmission and confusion, though, also speak to modernist textuality and communication practice?

This CFP seeks proposals for papers that read modernist literary or cultural texts in conversation with the black-box concept. Angles of approach might consider black boxes in terms of: communication technology; information culture; literary form; subjectivity and relationships; limitations on perception.

Please send a short (3-5 sentences is fine) proposal and brief bio to halove@indiana.edu by April 16, 2015.


Conference Location: Boston, USA
Conference Starts: November 19, 2015
Conference Ends: November 22, 2015

CFP Submission Deadline: April 16, 2015

For more information, contact: Heather Love

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