Call for Papers (CLOSED)

The Call for Papers is closed. Thank you for the submissions!


The recent explosion of Discard Studies points towards a world in which it is increasingly accepted and encouraged to look at not just what is successful, useful or present, but also what is unsuccessful, useless, or discarded. The material focus of Discard Studies is one way to understand this tendency, but there are also discarded ideas, useless theories, and tracks that research just doesn’t take in the course of its formation. There is also knowledge that is deliberately obfuscated or ‘junked,’ as Proctor and Schiebinger’s Agnotology and Oreskes and Conway’s Merchants of Doubt detail. This call for papers is therefore focused on bringing to the foreground that which has, out of necessity or choice, been relegated to the background. 

York University STS and University of Toronto IHSPT invites the submission of essays and other less formal scholarship to its second annual joint graduate conference on the subject of “Junk.” Junk is a “theme without a theme” in that it can encompass anything from rejected scientific and technological methods, data, and theories, to the history of neglected objects or instruments, to the messy process of research that has not led to productive ends. As such, the submission of papers can be focused on the material reality of junk (“Looking at Junk”) or on the personal course of one’s own research (“Look at My Junk”).

Junk can cover the actual junk of the world, but it can also cover nearly anything else as well – a discarded paper, train of thought, dead end in research, stuff intentionally left out, etc. As such, it also encourages everyone to look for that one paper that has been floating around in the back of their head/hard drive, which has never seen the light of day, and present not just on that, but also on why people think it is a fascinating topic, what stopped them from researching it further, and to acknowledge that research – particularly in this stage of our careers, as graduate students, is a messy process. It allows for reflexivity, sharing pitfalls, and generally gives a chance to present unfinished thought processes in a collegial environment. Thus, if you have an idea for a paper that doesn’t quite fit into the rest of your research or something interesting that has been set aside in the production of your thesis or dissertation, if you’ve had to make decisions based on gaps in the archive, if your research has in any way, shape, or form taken turns away from what you originally envisioned it to be, we want to hear from you. We will examine the limits of knowledge in a disposable world, and how that shapes us as graduate students and people.

Submission Details:

We invite graduate students to submit 200-300 word abstracts for a 15-20 minute presentation on the aforementioned theme(s). Proposals for panels will also be accepted (same format). Interdisciplinary contributions from beyond HPS/STS are encouraged and welcomed.

The conference will be held on April 29th and 30th, 2016, in Toronto.

Click below for the official poster.