The Semiotics Workshop

Culture in Context

19th Annual Michicagoan Conference CFP

19th Annual Michicagoan Conference

May 5-6, 2017

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

 

2017 Conference Theme

The Writing’s on the Wall

 

With a keynote address by

Friederike Lüpke

Professor of Linguistics, Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

SOAS, University of London

 

The annual Michicagoan Conference focuses on the social and cultural analysis of semiotic forms centering on language, providing graduate students with an attentive forum in which to present their work and have it discussed by faculty and students. The conference promotes ongoing scholarly exchange and collaboration among students and faculty of the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and regional affiliates. We welcome work from graduate students at all stages and encourage participants to submit formal conference papers as well as to present their proposals and research reports. Commentators for each panel are drawn from participating faculty.

 

This year’s Michicagoan theme addresses signs of inevitability and the inevitability of signs. Linguistic anthropologists have long emphasized the contingency and unpredictability of semiotic and sociohistorical processes. But what about when things just seem inevitable? Looking at symptoms of imminent language death, benchmarks of language development, or compulsive patterns of interaction — certain signs, sequences, and structures seem bound to repeat. Not only attuning to future-oriented acts of forecasting, predicting, and prophesizing, “The Writing’s on the Wall” asks participants to investigate the pragmatics of backward-looking, told-you-so reconstructions of the past.

 

Participants might consider the following dimensions of inevitability:

– Authority and expertise: Predicting the future or reconstructing the past often requires rituals, experts, and authorized genres. What kinds of expertise is drawn upon in interpreting the inevitable? Who or what can make a prediction? How do these prognostications and post-factum assessments circulate in public space?

– Mediation and writing: Predictions can be mediated by objects and technologies, and by forms of writing, reading, and analysis. Auguries, regressions, weather forecasts — what technologies and literacies are mobilized to read the past or future?

– Prediction and failure: To utter “the writing was on the wall” offers a retrospective account for a seemingly inevitable outcome. But what about cases when the inevitable doesn’t happen? How do actors deal with interactional breakdowns, failed signs, or ambiguous results?

Any research topic addressing the spirit of the theme is welcome, but some might include:
–        Language change and shift
–        Language death
–        Scientific prediction and forecasting
–        Speech acts and performativity
–        Political speech
–        Religious language, divination, prophecy
–        Ritual semiosis and materiality
–        Entextualization and dialogism
–        Semiotics of temporality
–        Natural language processing

 

Students will have 15 minutes to present. To apply, submit a 250-word abstract to the link below. If abstracts are accepted, complete papers will be due by April 21. There is no registration fee for the conference. Transportation expenses for Chicago student presenters will be covered. Meals will be covered for all registered attendees.

 

Submission link: https://goo.gl/forms/VRGyo3PJ4CobtDhK2

Deadline: March 3, 2017

 

All other inquiries, including questions concerning access for persons with disabilities, can be directed to michicagoan2017@umich.edu.

Spring 2017 Schedule

This is our spring schedule:

4.6     Anne Meneley (Trent University): “The Olive and Imaginaries of the Mediterranean”

4.20     Bill Feeney, TBA

4.21     Terra Edwards (Gallaudet University): “Fields and Fieldability in a Protactile World” 3-4:30, H315 (Note the special time and place; this is a joint event hosted by Semiotics and the Sign Language Study Group.)

5.5-6     Annual Michicagoan conference at the University of Michigan

5.18     Yukun Zeng, “Indexicalization”

6.1      Anna Weichselbraun (Stanford), “Measurement of Nuclear Material at IAEA”

Papers are pre-circulated a week in advance. Unless otherwise noted, all the meetings are held in H101 from 4:30-6 PM. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance, please contact Perry Wong at perrywong@uchicago.edu or Briel Kobak bkobak@uchicago.edu.

 

Winter 2016 Schedule

Please join us for the following workshops this winter quarter, continuing the theme “Measures of Value and Values of Measure.” We hope to see you there!
January 12
Terrence Deacon
Professor, Anthropology, UC Berkeley
“TBA”
February 2* (note special date)
Sean Dowdy
Anthropology, UChicago
“’This is Jukowa’: Footless Felicity and the Ethics of Foreplay in Assam”
February 9
Xiao-Bo Yuan
Anthropology, UChicago
“Heterodox signs: measuring excess and deficiency in Chinese Christian discourse”
February 23
Britta Ingebretson
Anthropology and Linguistics, UChicago
“TBA”
March 9
Erik Levin
Linguistics and Anthropology, UChicago
“TBA”

Autumn 2016 Schedule

The Semiotics Workshop Autumn 2016 Schedule:

October 6th – “Grading, Gradients, Degradation, Grace”

Paul Kockelman

Professor of Anthropology

Yale University

 

October 20th – “‘All there is’: On reconciliation and the poetics of a singing voice”

Robyn Taylor-Neu

Masters in Arts Program for the Social Sciences

University of Chicago

 

November 3rd – Title TBA (dissertation chapter on democracy as creative vs. reactive enterprise)

Averill Leslie

PhD Candidate, University of Chicago

 

December 1st – “Exercising Socialist Laborers: Production Calisthenics and the Politicization of Fatigue during the Great Leap Forward China”

Bing Xia

Masters in Arts Program for the Social Sciences

University of Chicago

Michicagoan Schedule

The 18th Annual Michicagoan Graduate Student Conference in Linguistic Anthropology

May 6-7, 2016

3rd Floor Theater, Ida Noyes Hall

University of Chicago

 

Friday May 6th

9:00 Breakfast and Registration

9:30 Opening Remarks

 

   

Panel I: Mobilities and Transnationalisms (9:45 – 11:15)

9:45 A Partner for Peace

Yaqub Hilal

10:00 Mediating Infrastructures: Security and Biometric Belonging in Urban Pakistan

Zehra Hashimi

10:15 On the (An)Aesthetics of Translation: Alienation and Techno-linguisic dependency in Sino-African Mass-Migrancies

Jay Schutte

10:30 Lei Feng wouldn’t drive an Audi

Britta Ingebretson

10:45 Discussant Kristina Wirtz (and audience discussion)
11:15 Break (11:15-11:30)
   

Panel II: Multimedia and Meta-media (11:30 – 1:00)

11:30 Echo in the archive: Tanya Tagaq’s Nanook of the North

Robyn Taylor-Neu

11:45 You are the problem who is problematizing it”: A frame analysis of Korean Buddhist spontaneous question-answer sessions on YouTube

Yeon-ju Bae

12:00 Musical Lyrics and Youtube Commentary on Kurdish Identity Politics

Sevda Arslan

12:15 Who’s ‘More Musical’?: Underscoring Distinction in Ex-YU Hip Hop DJing

Owen Kohl

12:30 Discussant Ilana Gershon (and audience discussion)
 

1:00pm

 

Lunch (1:00 – 2:00)

 

Panel III: Modeling Identities Multimodally (2:00 – 3:30)
2:00 The Problem and Appeal of Authenticity in Mediatized Maya Discourse

Chris Bloechl

2:15 Technologies of the Hand: Bets, Being a Man, and “Half-Handshakes” in Laos

Chip Zuckerman

2:30 Mediatization and the Assemblage of Political Agents in Turkey’s Kurdish Conflict

Patrick Lewis

2:45 The Role of Trolling in Shaping Cultural Discourse and Identity: a case study of an anonymous internet message board

Marc Lehman

3:00 Discussant: Alaina Lemon (and audience discussion)
3:30 Break (3:30-3:45)
   

Panel IV: Institutions of Mediation (3:45 – 5:15)

3:45 Seeing the Forest for the Trees: How a Village Council Debates Land Use in a Protected Rainforest

Jessica Pouchet

4:00 Biographies of “Marginal Men”

Perry Wong

4:15 Language as semiotic technology at the International Atomic Energy Agency
Anna Weichselbraun
4:30 The Art of Knowing: Depersonalized Voices and Technologies of Mediation in Turkey’s Kurdistan

Özge Korkmaz

4:45 Discussant: Matthew Hull (and audience discussion)
5:15 Break (5:15 – 5:30)
5:30 – 7:00 Keynote Address: A Short History of Vowels

John Durham Peters

 

7:30

 

Student Dinner

 

 

Saturday May 7th

 

9:00am Breakfast
 

Panel V: Framing Absence, Personifying Presence (10:00 – 11:30)

10:00 Speaking in Ashes: Embodied Space in Divination and Grammar

Joshua Shapero

10:15 Coded Engagements: Teasing Siri with ‘Nandeyanen’

Bill Feeney

10:30 The Importance of a Frame

Meghanne Barker

10:45 The Social Media Life of a Deceased Tibetan Poet: Blue Lake, Identity Formations, and WeChat

Huatse Gyal

11:00 Discussant: Chris Ball (and audience discussion)
11:30 Break (11:30 – 11:45)
 

 

 

Panel VI: Translating Medical Assemblages (11:45 – 1:15)

11:45 From Tantra to Textbook: Textual Transformations of Tibetan Medicine

Todd P. Marek

12:00 Trauma as Sign: Temporality and Narrative in “Post-Traumatic Growth”

Livia Garofalo

12:15 Sieving Uncertainty

Colin Halverson

12:30 Billable Language and Artifactual Technologies of Social Work

Matilda Stubbs

12:45 Discussant: Summerson Carr (and audience discussion)
 

1:15pm

 

Lunch (1:15 – 2:30)

 

 

 

Panel VII: Reforming the Political, Revealing the Religious (2:30 – 4:00)

2:30 Chronotopes of “We-Ness”: Legacies of an Authoritarian Past and Disappointments with Democracy in the 2014 Indonesian Presidential Campaigns

Fadi Hakim

2:45 Confessional discourse and the language of the liberation-oppression paradigm in the first decade of the P.R.C.

Alice Yeh

3:00 Figuration as Semiotic Technology at the Islamic Center of America

Amanda Kemble

3:15 Reading Prophecies, Taming Demons: Buddhism in Sertar, 1950-1987

Jin Li

3:30 Discussant: Justin Richland (and audience discussion)
4:00 Break (4:00 – 4:15)
 

Panel VIII: Quantification and Qualification (4:15 – 5:30)

4:15 Technologies of Visualization, Technologies of Scale: Maps, National Crisis, and the Legitimacy of Law in Singapore Urban Planning

Josh Babcock

4:30 Towards a Semiotics of Units: The Rhemacity, Dicensity and Argumencity in the Evolution of Technological Language

Yukun Zeng

4:45 Dangerous evaluations: 360-degree feedback in South Korea

Michael Prentice

5:00 Discussant: Michael Lempert (and audience discussion)
6:00 Dinner and reception

Spring 2016 Schedule

The Semiotics Workshop Spring 2016 Schedule

 

April 7th – “Semiotic Affordances and Constraints at a Yucatec Maya Radio Station”

Chris Bloechl

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

University of Chicago

Discussant: Hannah McElgunn, Anthropology

 

April 21st – “Andino-futurism, Tupak Katari in space, and Decolonizing Time during Bolivia’s Pacha Kuti

Karl Swinehart

Assistant Professor, Linguistics

University of Louisville

Discussant: Chris Bloechl, Anthropology

 

May 4th – “Linguistic Manifestations in Encounters of Loss”

Barbra Meek

Associate Professor, Anthropology

University of Michigan

(Joint workshop with Language Variation and Change)

 

May 6th and 7th – Michicagoan Graduate Student Conference in Linguistic Anthropology

 

May 19th – TBA

Giovanni Ricci

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

University of Chicago

Discussant: Zeb Dingley, Anthropology

 

June 2nd – TBA

Britta Ingebretson

PhD Candidate, Anthropology and Linguistics

University of Chicago

Michicagoan Conference, May 6-7, 2016

Technologies of Semiosis

18th Annual Michicagoan Conference

May 6–7, 2016

 

The annual Michicagoan Conference focuses on the social and cultural analysis of semiotic forms centering on language, providing graduate students with an attentive forum in which to present their work and have it discussed by faculty and students from the Universities of Michigan and Chicago and beyond. We welcome work from post-baccalaureate students at all stages, and encourage participants to submit formal conference papers as well as to discuss their dissertation proposals and research reports. Commentators for each panel are drawn from participating faculty. The conference promotes ongoing scholarly exchange and collaboration among students and faculty of the two host institutions and regional affiliates.

 

This year, meeting at the University of Chicago, our theme is “Technologies of Semiosis.” Our keynote speaker this year is John Durham Peters, A. Craig Baird Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. We seek papers taking semiotic, sociolinguistic and linguistic anthropological approaches to the ways in which language and other semiotic forms are intertwined with technology. We encourage participants to interpret the concept of technology broadly, focusing on one of the themes below or expanding into other domains:

 

  •      Media: How are the semiotic affordances of different media – be they written text-artifacts, television, radio, film, or more novel technologies of communication – used to interactional ends? How do different types of media intersect, or, as affordances, overlap? What temporalities do they call forth? What kind of material infrastructure do they rely on and bring into being? How do different artefactual modalities of representation, like graphic inscription, audio transcription, or translation across media, function as kinds of semiotic technologies?

 

  •      Language as technology: How can language and its use serve as a kind of technology? In what ways can language be understood as a kind of technique, knowledge, skill or craft? How does an attention to different sensory modalities, like the visual and the sonic, contribute to this sort of analysis? Here we might consider such concepts as voice, noise and gesture, among other things.

 

  •      Emergent structures of machine-human interaction: Moving away from face-to-face interaction, what of non-face-to-face human-machine/machine-human interaction? What consequences do such interactional modalities have for language? What new theoretical approaches might need to be elaborated to account for machine-mediated human interaction? What might attention to these microstructures reveal about larger scale processes?

Presenters will have 15 minutes to present research papers or project proposals, and they will be asked to submit completed papers to their assigned discussant by April 22nd. There is no registration fee for the conference. Transportation will be covered for all Michigan presenters. Meals will be covered for all registered attendees.

 

To propose a presentation, please submit the following materials, as email text or attachment, to michicagoan2016@gmail.com by March 11, 2016:

  1. Title of presentation
  2. University and departmental affiliation
  3. Abstract of 250 words or less
  4. Audio-visual requirements

 

All other inquiries, including questions concerning access for persons with disabilities, can be directed to Hannah McElgunn (mcelgunn@uchicago.edu) or Janet Connor (jeconnor@uchicago.edu).

Winter 2016 Schedule

The Semiotics Workshop Winter 2016 Schedule

 

January 14th : “Mane, Mothers and Regulating Circulations”

Bill Feeney

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

University of Chicago

Discussant: Perry Wong, Anthropology

 

January 28th – “Objects and artifacts: the thinginess of bureaucratic objectivity”

Anna Weichselbraun

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

University of Chicago

Discussant: Lily Ye, Comparative Human Development

 

 

February 11th – “Recursive Republican Racialization: Economic Moralities and the Language of Exclusion in Senegalese Households in Paris”

Chelsie Yount

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Northwestern University

Discussant: Omer Ahmed, Anthropology

 

February 25th – “You become everyone”

Colin Halverson

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

University of Chicago

Discussant: Giovanni Ricci, Anthropology

 

March 10th – Antics of the Virtual: The Otherness in the Self in the Japanese Expression, Nanchatte

Miyako Inoue

Associate Professor, Anthropology

Stanford University

Discussant: Bill Feeney, Anthropology

Autumn 2015 Schedule

We’re pleased to announce our schedule for Autumn 2015.
 
October 8th – Net-Savvy Cats and Newbie Dogs: Textual Materiality and the Embodiment of Computer-Mediated “Voices”
Elise Kramer
Lecturer, Anthropology
UC San Diego
Visiting Professor, UIUC
Discussant: Alice Yeh, Anthropology
 
October 22nd – “What Standards Want: Learning to Read the Next Generation Science Standards”
Lily Ye
PhD Student, Comparative Human Development
University of Chicago
Discussant: Colin Halverson, Anthropology
 
November 5th – Made in Other Words: Translating the Anglochronotopia in the Sino-African Encounter
Jay Schutte
PhD Candidate, Anthropology
University of Chicago
Discussant: Britta Ingebretson, Anthropology
 
Friday December 4th – Title TBA
Kathryn Graber
Assistant Professor, Anthropology Department and Central Eurasian Studies
Indiana University Bloomington
Discussant: Jonah Simpson, Anthropology

Spring 2015 Schedule

The Semiotics Workshop is pleased to announce our Spring 2015 schedule:

 

April 16th: “Signs of Disease”
Colin Halverson
PhD Candidate, Anthropology
University of Chicago
Discussant: Kieran Kelley, Anthropology

May 8th and 9th: Michicagoan Conference at University of Michigan

May 21st: Title TBA
Beth Brummel
PhD Candidate, Anthropology
University of Chicago
Discussant: Chris Bloechl, Anthropology

Friday, June 5th: Title TBA
Joint session with Language Variation and Change WOrkshop
John Haviland
Distinguished Professor, Anthropology
UCSD

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