Grafting the Self

Princeton University, October 19-21, 2017
Annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference
Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Keynote Speaker: Lilya Kaganovsky (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Grafting the Self is an interdisciplinary conference that aims to explore instances of experimentation with individual and collective identity within the context of Central and Eastern Europe. From the iPhone to prosthetic limbs, from globalism to localism, the early 21st century faces new shifts in the paradigms of personhood and of traditional forms of subjectivity. High tech objects and the manufacture of identity have become grafted onto each other. New media and technologies are giving space to new forms of agency and have, more recently, aided the rise of new understandings of identity. The assemblage nature of the app revolution, the palimpsestic phenomenon of globalization and the prosthetic world of bio-mechanics all give rise to new ways of composing the Self.

Often underexplored, Central and Eastern Europe has a long track-record of challenging conventional notions of the self and its domains. In one recent experiment, Viktoria Modesta, a Latvian-born English model and singer, uses the below-the-knee amputation of her left leg as a jumping-off point for artistic collaboration with designers of innovative prosthetics. Her inventive leg prosthetics – a sharp spike, a glowing lamp – adapt and simultaneously challenge conventional understandings of beauty and disability. In other words, Modesta’s prosthetic-aesthetic is a new expressive language that grafts biomechanics onto pop culture. With these interventions and challenges in mind, we want to encourage the discussion of grafted identities within the cultures of Central and Eastern Europe, which offer a rich cultural landscape for the manufacturing of new identities out of old traditions and new technologies.

Bearing in mind questions such as: “Which “ready-mades” are more efficient than others in hosting the Self?”, we invite submissions that explore how various practices of grafting and inhabiting already existing cultural forms help us understand the process of shaping the Self. In particular, we are interested in research that demonstrates the subjectivizing potential of human-made structures, covering a broad range of topics from body implants to urban grids; from narrative templates to visual ready-mades; from linguistic transplants to cross-dressing. How does grafting shed light onto the ever-adapting shape of the Self?

The goal of the conference is to provide graduate students with the chance to present their work to senior scholars in the field and to receive as much constructive feedback as possible. The conference will also host several talks by invited speakers from various areas of expertise in order to broaden the discussion and provide young scholars with an opportunity to interact across disciplines. All papers will be made available prior to the conference through the conference website. At the conference, each presenter will be given 10-15 minutes to give their paper, followed by commentary by the panel discussant and open discussion.


Submission Details

We welcome submissions from graduate students whose work concerns in the broadest sense possible the ‘Slavic world’, which we take to include Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and the ex-Soviet territories of Central Asia. Please submit abstracts (300 words or less) to to Gabriella Ferrari, Lev Nikulin and Elizaveta Mankovskaya. In addition, please attach a short CV including current departmental affiliation, name, and e-mail. The deadline for submissions is August 25, 2017Please submit all files as Word documents.

We will be able to provide accommodation from October 19 through October 22. Although participants are expected to make their own travel arrangements by seeking support from their home institution or external funding resources, partial travel subsidies will be provided by the conference in exceptional circumstances and on an ad hoc basis.

Please address any questions to Gabriella Ferrari, Lev Nikulin and Elizaveta Mankovskaya at


Princeton University

Hosted by the Princeton Slavic Languages and Literatures department, and co-sponsored by the Princeton Program in Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies

Contact Info:
Gabriella A. Ferrari
Slavic Languages and Literatures,
Princeton University


Contact Email:
graftingtheself@gmail.comGrafting the Self (Slavic emphasis) (8/25/2017; 10/19-21/2017)