What’s New about New Materialisms?

UC Berkeley

May 4-5th, 2012

The social sciences and humanities have long been engaged in the study of matter, materiality and materialisms. So what to make of recent announcements of the arrival of a variety of “new materialisms”? This conference brings together scholars from across the university to discuss a multiplicity of orientations and critical approaches to the use—and in some cases misuse—of the term and conceptual apparatus of “new materialisms” in their own work. Intentionally named as a question, What’s New About New Materialisms? is intended as an exploration of the benefits and limitations to “new” modes of thinking about and through the material. The four questions that guide contributors’ presentation are: What is new about matter? What is a method adequate to a new matter? Do ‘new materialisms’ mark the limit of discourse? How might we attend to materiality as a property of the digital? The first day of the conference will feature faculty presentations, including two keynote addresses, and the second day will feature papers by graduate students.

What’s new about New Materialisms?