CfP The Mimetic Turn: Final International Conference on Homo Mimeticus (ERC)

April 20-22, 2022, KU Leuven

Plato and Aristotle disagreed about the value of mimetic representations, but they agreed that humans are mimetic animals—for good and ill. This ancient realization has long remained in the shadow of dominant translation of mimesis as aesthetic “representation” or realistic “copy” of reality, but there are a number of indications that a re-turn of attention to a more embodied, relational, contagious, and immanent conception of mimesis is now back on the critical and theoretical scene, animating most of the battles of the present that cast a shadow on an increasingly precarious future—from mass contagion to (new) fascism, conspiracy theories to viral contagion to hypermimetic simulations that have material effects on the planet, among other protean phenomena.

The ERC-funded project Homo Mimeticus: Theory and Criticism (HOM) hosted by the Institute of Philosophy and the Faculty of Arts at KU Leuven, Belgium, is pleased to announce its final international conference on April 20-22, 2022 (blended format). Furthering a mimetic turn HOM has been promoting over the past 5 years (www.homomimeticus.eu),the general goal of this transdisciplinary conference is to continue mapping the protean manifestations of mimesis (imitation, but also identification, contagion, performativity, simulation, mirror neurons, et al.) from a Janus-faced perspective that looks back to this concept’s genealogy to better look ahead to the challenges of the present and future. HOM’s overarching hypothesis is that from the linguistic turn to the ethical turn, the affective turn to the new materialist turn, the neuro turn to the posthuman turn to the environmental turn, there is a growing re-turn of attention to the ancient yet always new realization that humans are an all-too-mimetic species—or homo mimeticus.

© M.C Escher, Drawing Hands

In order to further the mimetic turn from a transdisciplinary perspective, HOM convoked internationally renowned keynotes and invited speakers to forge new connections between homo mimeticus and the posthuman (Rosi Braidotti), the planetary (William E. Connolly), vibrant matter (Jane Bennett), psychic fabrications (Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen), techne theory, (Herny Staten), conspiracy theories (Michael Butter), and embodied simulation (Vittorio Gallese).

We invite papers that explore the protean manifestations of homo mimeticus from perspectives as diverse as continental philosophy, literary theory, critical theory, feminism and LGBTQ studies, critical race theory, performance studies, film and media studies, political theory, animal studies, environmental studies, experimental aesthetics, among other areas of inquiry at the crossroads between mimetic theory and interdisciplinary humanities.

Areas of investigation include but are not limited to:

  • Genealogies of mimetic precursors (Plato to Aristotle, Montaigne to Nietzsche, Girard to Lacoue-Labarthe, Irigaray to Bhabha…)
  • Mimesis and subject formation (imitation, identification, emulation, performativity…)
  • The psychic life of mimesis (phantom egos, the mimetic unconscious, making madness…)
  • Life imitating Art more than art imitating life in the 21 C.
  • Mimetic “others” (mimetic racism and sexism, LGBTQ studies, decoloniality…)
  • The pathologies of mimesis (hypnosis, somnambulism, mass behavior, online vitriol…)
  • The patho-logies of mimesis (mimetic pathos, mimesis as pharmakon, pharmakos…)  
  • The affects of mimesis (sympathy, empathy, contagion, panic, sharing…)
  • Beyond realism: from modernism to science-fiction (doubles, cyborgs, avatars…)
  • The mimetic brain (mirror neurons, brain plasticity, embodied simulation…)
  • Film as (hyper)mimetic medium (hypnosis, identification, experimental aesthetics…)
  • Hypermimesis in new media (social media, going viral, selfies, conspiracy theories…)
  • Beyond human mimesis (vibrant matter, planetary processes, entangled mimesis…)
  • Aesthetics and the mimetic senses (embodied simulation, synesthesia, mirror neurons…)
  • Viral mimetic patho(-)logies (viral/affective contagion, violence/care, mass/pluralism…)

Please submit a 250-words abstract and a short bio to homomimeticus@kuleuven.be by January 15, 2022. Should you have any questions contact nidesh.lawtoo@kuleuven.be

Due to the uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic we opted for blended format (physical presence & online); we will go online-only, should security measures require it.

For more information about the HOM Project and the concepts internal to the mimetic turn (e.g., mimetic pathos, hypermimesis, mimetic patho(-)logies, et al.), see http://www.homomimeticus.eu/the-project/

The theoretical foundations of the HOM project are summarized here.

Here are outputs on the mimetic turn including interviews with internationally renowned figures in continental philosophy (Jean-Luc Nancy), literary theory (J. Hillis Miller), feminist philosophy (Adriana Cavarero) et al., and respective HOM video interviews

Want to join the HOM Seminar? More information here.

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement n°716181)