We hope to create an interdisciplinary Graduate conference on a variety of topics addressing the relationship between material production and aesthetic/cultural articulation. Fredric Jameson, of Duke University, will be our keynote speaker and will participate in an interdepartmental round-table discussion. Professor Jameson's talk is also a part of the Forum for Contemporary Thought lecture series.

We intend for the conference to serve as a forum for introspection about our roles at the university, where we act variously though simultaneously as critics, consumers, scholars, teachers, artists, and employees. In the academic setting, we see a complex of relationships between aesthetics and economics, where, for example, teaching can be discussed in terms of labor, or our writing and criticism in terms of art.

The diverse forms that our own work takes are the beginning of our interests. We are also concerned with how the objects of our study anticipated and responded to this dynamic between aesthetic, economic, and intellectual pressures. Does the marketplace context of our work make us see these works in this way? Or is our criticism in fact modeling itself according to the same mechanisms as its object of study? How are these negotiations reconfigured within different disciplines, discourses, and communities? How have conceptions of these issues changed over time, varied by geography and according to race, class, and gender differences?

A second, and equally important, dimension of this discussion is the nature of the contemporary university itself. How do privatization and corporatization affect the relationships between administration, faculty, students, and staff? What are the responsibilities of a university community to the larger geographic and social community in which it exists? What does it owe to its multiple shareholders, clients, and constituents -- the public, undergraduates, faculty, staff, and graduate students? What strategies for resistance and change offer the greatest potential in this environment? How are labor organizing and unionization redefining and being redefined by the new academic environment?

The conference, now in its tenth year, will offer graduate students an opportunity to participate in a professional conference within a familiar setting. The conference allows graduate students to meet and discuss their work, engage in cross-disciplinary discussion, and meet graduate students from other universities.