Graduate Conference, "After Work"

Department: Comparative Literature

Date and Time: March 1, 2019 - March 2, 2019 | 8:00 AM-8:00 AM

Event Location: HG1030

Event Details

Call for Papers
UCI Comparative Literature Graduate Conference

March 1st and 2nd, 2019

If work and play are two faces of a coin exploiting the productive capacities of both within late capitalism, have we reached a moment where the terms are in crisis? If work as we know it disappears in light of the contemporary crises of debt, homelessness, and joblessness in our post-financialization era; if it disappears with ever new forms of automation that replace both work and workers, then the question arises: what comes after work?

An early victory of the international labor movement, the eight-hour workday became a measure of wellness in both mid to late 20th century capitalist and socialist economies and legitimized the dialectic between labor and leisure. As a formula (“8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, and 8 hours for what you will”), it has come to reflect a fantasy of the totality of experience. On the one hand, the notion that “A man must break his back to earn his day of leisure,” points to the seeming inseparability of work and play. On the other hand, the rise of the gig economy, labor automation, and the prominence of short-term contract and minimum wage labor suggest that the old formula for wellness has broken down.

What remains outside, before, beyond, and after work and play? What kinds of openings might the interrogation of the work/play dialectic create? And what happens, if anything, when we examine the apertures in the spaces between this dialectic and those it fosters: between virtual and actual, labor and unlabor, mother and infant, society and individual? In what ways do these openings point to the necessity – or the possibility – for transition and movement?

Movement through and around these apertures presupposes a condition of ability, the ability to move, to work, to play, to rest. Health/wellness and ability/mobility are also the conditions for the possibility of work. And, even though the refusal to work – or the refusal to play, for that matter – may be pathologized or criminalized, embedded in the act of refusal is the implication of choice and ability.

This conference seeks to interrogate refusal and choice, and ability and mobility, as nested within (and from without) the dialectic of work and play. What does it mean to remain, voluntarily or involuntarily, outside of the fantasy of totality offered by the formula of the 8-8-8? How can we – or should we – think before, beyond, and after work and play? Is there a possibility of an outside of labor – or an outside of play? And finally, how do sleep, boredom, and laziness figure in: as a kind of third term, as part of play, as productive self-encounters and moments of intellection? Or as something else entirely?

We welcome papers dealing with the following areas of interest:

·       Unlabor, labor refusal and value theory
·       Neoliberal acceleration and the nostalgia for the 8-8-8
·       Homelessness and vagrancy
·       Boredom, laziness and its mobilizations
·       Racialized, fugitive and negative spaces
·       Invisible vs. visible violence
·       Virtual and actual warfare
·       Accumulation and the proliferation of virtual spaces
·       Sex work and reproductive labor
·       Emotional labor
·       Illness and wellness
·       Disabled bodies and the idea of the “functional”
·       Dreams and sleep as resistance
·       The privilege to work and play, the obligation to work and play
·       Doing, undoing, and repetition
·       Love and the psychic economy of Work and Play
·       Childhood and labor; child labor

Please submit a 250 word abstract by January 13, 2019 to