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MLA Subconference: Between the Public and Its Privates

  • Cheer Up Charlie's 900 Red River Street Austin, TX 78701 USA (map)

What is the MLA Subconference?

We are an evolving group of graduate students, adjunct faculty, and independent researchers in the humanities who are interested in creating a new kind of conference environment, in which to discuss alternative professional, social, and political possibilities for ourselves and our peers. We see the Subconference as an open, collective endeavor that works in solidarity with both non-academic peers and academic allies. 

Why did we choose our theme, "Between the Public and Its Privates"? 

Today it seems almost impossible to point to the public without uncovering its uncanny twin–the private. Consider Google’s Hangout, a competitor with Skype, which is privatized software but sounds open and accessible; Google Books, an intermingling of private technology and the public domain; the channeling of tax dollars to everything from private ambulance services to charter schools; and the unforgettable Kraft Macaroni & Cheese sculpture that graced the University of Michigan’s stadium for a brief stint. The third year of the MLA Subconference seeks to locate how the notion of the “public” often hides its secret promiscuity with the private. 

We turn to the public and its privates not simply to critique their intimacy but also to seek other modes of study, such as those found in the commons, obscured by hard and fast public/private distinctions. We look to the free schools, Blank Panther education projects, deschooling, indigenous language study, and mutual aid networks that have so frequently filled the gaps of public services. Following them, this conference seeks to create a space in which reading and conversation is a political and militant act, and where political organizing is an educational and pedagogical project.


Wednesday, January 6

8:45-9:00 AM:Breakfast (provided)

9:30-11:00 AM: Panel 1: Teaching After Ferguson in Public/Private Classrooms
Julia Dauer and Christine Walsh

11:15-12:45 AM: Panel 2: Teaching against Capitalist Miseducation: Radical Pedagogy and the Crisis of the Public Intellectual
John Maerhofer, Margaret Hanzimanolis, Pat Keeton, Amrita Ghosh, and Rahul Gairola

1:00-2:00 PM: Lunch (provided)

2:00-3:30 PM: Panel 3
Capitalism As the Public Negotiation of the Private? (Daniella Gáti)
David Foster Wallace, Dave W., and Saint Dave (Ándrea Laurencell Sheridan)
Sex: It’s All in the Family (Mary Zaborskis)

3:45-5:00 PM: Panel 4: Intimate Utility Meter & Co.: Surveillance, Consumption and Quantified Love
Ernesto D. Morales and Shelly Ronen

5:15-6:15 PM: Panel 5: Postcommodity Collective
“Repellent Fence / Valla Repelente” land art installation and community engagement

7:00-9:00 PM–Open Bar (Cheer Up Charlies, 900 Red River St., Austin, TX 78701) 

Thursday, January 7th

8:30-9:00 AM: Breakfast (provided)

9:00-10:30 AM: Panel 6: Skill Share Workshop: Direct Action on Campus in the Age of the Militarized University
Alex Brown, Daniel Marshall, and Zakiya Williams Wells

10:45-12:30 PM: Panel 7: Plenary Between the Public and Its Privates
Chris Newfield; Joshua Clover; Eileen Joy (Punctum); Dan Rudmann (Studium); Julia Kranzthor and Brigid Hall (Workers Defense Project); Erin Wunker; Jorge Valles

12:30-1:15 PM: Lunch (provided)

1:30-3:00 PM: Panel 8
The Public Adjunct: Peril, Loneliness, An Uncertain Future (Veronica Popp)
Strategy. Contingency. (Charli Valdez)
Adjunct organizer (TBD)

*NB 3:30–4:45 p.m., Lone Star D, JW Marriott, MLA session 119: Boycotting Israeli Academic Institutions

Friday, January 8, 2016
Walking tour with the Workers Defense Project. Time and location tbd. Email for more information.

Earlier Event: November 12
Save the Waves Film Festival
Later Event: January 6
Punctum Records Free Week (1 of 2)