Call for Proposals: HSSA Spring Symposium

Call for Proposals - HSSA Spring Symposium 2019

Theme: Possibility/Promise

June 22 @ International House, UC Berkeley

New Proposal Deadline: May 29

[Deadline extended due to holiday weekend]


Scholars in the humanities and social sciences are invited to present completed and/or ongoing research at a multidisciplinary symposium hosted by the Humanities & Social Sciences Association. All UC Berkeley visiting postdocs, scholars, and student researchers are welcome to submit texts (essays, articles, book chapters, dissertation sections, etc.) based on completed projects or works-in-progress.

Prospective participants are welcome to submit proposals on any theme. However, they are especially encouraged to submit a proposal that has some connection to the theme of Possibility/Promise. Among other things, this will include projects that focus on empirical and theoretical problems or seek to develop, challenge, or reformulate theories or findings intersecting with the idea of possibility or promise (see below for more details on the theme and related topics).

Abstract proposals (200-300 words) must be sent by May 29 to Selected participants will be notified of their acceptance by May 31. Presenters will be expected to serve as respondents for one other paper. Following the symposium, presenters will be invited to submit full papers for consideration for publishing in an online repository at UC Berkeley following a peer review process.


May 29: deadline for abstract proposals (email to

May 31: notification of acceptance

June 17: submission of full papers to respondents

June 22: presentation at the symposium

Theme: Possibility/Promise

“Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.”  

― Antonio Gramsci   


In the midst of the American Civil War, Emily Dickinson declares in a poem that "I dwell in Possibility –". Her line points to the fundamental human need for hope and promise at times of disparity, desperation, and despair. Almost a century later, in The Principle of Hope, Ernst Bloch would still describe hope, coterminous with possibility / promise in many regards, as "a place in the world which is as inhabited as the best civilized land and as unexplored as the Antarctic". 

In times (and places) of widespread and varied discord, disagreement, and conflict, individuals and groups can slip into cynicism, demoralization, dysfunction, and pessimism. With this symposium’s theme, participants are asked to reexamine their inquiries and methods through the lens of possibility or promise - both met and unmet - with respect to motivation, orientation, and conceptualization. 

Within the conference theme, possible areas of investigation may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Possibility and Becoming

Utopia and Dystopia (and/or Heterotopia)

Politics and Democracy

Crisis and Intervention

Determination and Construction

Change and Entropy

Optimism and Pessimism

Abjection and Melancholy

Potentiality and Despair

Failures and Openings

Praxis and Idealism

Exclusion and Inclusion

Activism and Mobilization

Postcolonialism and Decolonization

Emancipation and Revolution

Environment and Anthropocene

Capitalism and Neoliberalism

Vision, Design and Imagination  

Traveling and Mobility



With the goal of creating dialogue and providing valuable feedback for presenters, we will set aside sufficient time to carefully examine and discuss the papers submitted in smaller groups/sessions that are defined by common themes shared by the participants. Moderators/respondents will be assigned for each panel.

Publication Possibilities:

Following the symposium, Following the symposium, presenters will be given an opportunity to publish their papers in HSSA’s online repository housed at UC Berkeley for completed papers. Presenters will be invited to submit extended papers (3000-7000 words) to go through a peer-reviewed selection process.

Please direct questions to the Organizing Committee at