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Call for Papers – “Materials of Persuasion” Conference

December 11, 2009

Materials of Persuasion
Bard Graduate Center, New York
April 23, 2010

Few persons are capable of being convinced; the majority allow themselves to be persuaded.

I’m in the persuasion business, and frankly I’m disappointed by your presentation.
Peggy Olson, Mad Men

Critics passing judgment, clergy seeking converts, advertisers selling products, and politicians running for office are all in the persuasion business.  Persuasion is the key to the art of rhetoric, but there has always been a material dimension to persuasion as well.

Objects are vehicles of persuasion.  We are persuaded to purchase and consume objects, and we use them to persuade others, to mediate the identities we put forth, and our interactions with each other.  The roles of persuasive objects change over time as they pass from hand to hand.  The mutable relationships between material objects, people, and desire are powerful, tantalizing subjects of study.  So how does persuasion factor into these fluid equations?  Makers, buyers, and users all have unique perspectives on the art of persuasion, as well as unspoken intentions that are constantly at work beneath the surface.  Some of these intentions may be deceptive – persuasion can have a dark side.  Finally, persuasion rests upon various types of evidence – what must we see in order to believe?  We invite scholars from diverse fields to explore these issues- come, and be persuasive.

Topics may include but are not limited to:
*        Marketing, advertising, and the mechanics of consumer desire.
*        Branding and the elevation of the status symbol: What’s in a name?
*        The continuum of authenticity: influences, appropriations, copies, knock-offs and forgeries.
*        Persuasive scholarship: methodologies, authorial tone, and the use of revealed/suppressed information.
*        Surface treatments: gilding, varnishing, veneering, trompe l’oeil and faux materiality.
*        The toolbox of persuasion: emotion, rationalism, the hard sell, manipulation, and deceit.

The conference will take place on April 23, 2010, at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City.  Those interested in submitting papers for consideration should contact  Please include the title and a 250-word abstract of your paper topic, as well as a CV that  includes your contact information and email address.  Please send your submission no later than Friday, January 29, 2010.  Accepted speakers will be notified in February.

The Graduate Student Symposium Committee
The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture
18 West 86th Street
New York, New York 10024

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