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Call for Papers: Theorizing the Web 2015


Theorizing the Web 2015

April 17–18  in New York City

Co-Sponsored by Verso Books, The New Inquiry, and Snapchat

Abstract submission deadline: 11:59 pm (EST), January 18, 2015

To theorize the web is to theorize the self, society, and the world. Although digital social technologies are relatively new, the web is hardly a “virtual reality” or a “new frontier”; rather, it is a deeply embedded part of our existing social world, which has been described in multiple traditions of social thought. Yet mainstream conversations about digital social technologies tend to emphasize the technological at the expense of the social and result in partial understandings of the web, disconnected from questions of power and social justice—and from public discourse. Useful, nuanced thinking about the web is too often hidden behind paywalls and academic jargon, while technology journalism too often fixates on stories of progress and personal triumph without examining underlying ideologies or structural conditions.

We began Theorizing the Web in 2011 to advance a new kind of conversation, to highlight novel ways of thinking about the web that are sharp and critical, yet also public and accessible. The event both interdisciplinary and nondisciplinary, meaning we feature the best conceptual work about the web from both inside and outside academia. We welcome presenters from a wide variety of backgrounds, including those who may not consider either “technology” or “theory” to be their primary area of expertise.

Now we are pleased to announce a call for papers for the fifth annual Theorizing the Web, to be held April 17 and 18, 2015, in New York City. Whether you’re an academic, an activist, a journalist, a technologist, an author, an artist, or none of the above, we invite you to submit a presentation abstract.

Theorizing the Web seeks contributions from a diverse range of perspectives that advance clear theoretical arguments; embrace accessibility by demystifying jargon rather than using it as a crutch; and engage with concerns of asymmetrical power, social inequality, and justice. Some specific topics we’re looking for include (but are not limited to):

–Race, racism, ethnicity
–Sex, sex work, sexuality
–Mental health, illness, diversity
–The non-Western Web, empire, globalization
–Social movements, protest technologies, revolution
–Embodiment, cyborgism, post-humanism
–Wearables, implants
–The self, subjectivity, identity
–Privacy, publicity, visibility
–Surveillance, cop-cams, doxing
–Drones, makers, 3-D printing
–Capitalism, rationalization, exploitation, Silicon Valley
–“Sharing” economies, crowdfunding, crypto-currencies
–Hate, harassment, trolling
–Big Data, algorithms, filters
–Journalism, education, knowledge
–Virality, memes, fame, celebrity, the attention economy
–Photography, video, livestreaming, GIFs
–Music, sound, the music industry
–Literature, speculative fiction, sci-fi
–Games, gamification, game culture
–Intersections of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, disability, and other forms of inequality (taken separately or woven into any of the above)

The TtW15 selection committee will blindly review all submissions, and we expect selection to be competitive. (We were able to accept around a third of submissions for TtW14.) Submissions are due by 11:59 EST on January 18, 2015, and the submission form is located at

Abstract submissions should be 300 to 500 words. (Only the first 500 words will be reviewed.) Good abstracts will provide a specific, original argument and that argument’s stakes; any central questions should be accompanied by conclusions. Arguments should be scoped appropriately for panel presentations, and titles should appeal to a general audience. (Please note that we are handling art submissions separately for TtW15; see below for more information.) Because Theorizing the Web deeply values public engagement, we expect conference presentations to be both intelligible and rewarding to people outside presenters’ specific areas of expertise.

If you would like to participate in way that isn’t giving a spoken presentation—such as displaying a piece of art, giving a performance, or doing something else entirely—please send your idea to with “Presentation Idea” in the subject line.

In addition to a peer-reviewed proceedings issue from this event, we are excited to announce that Verso Books will print a collection based on TtW15 presentations. All accepted submissions will be considered for the Verso Books collection, and full-paper submissions for the academic proceedings issue will be opened following the conference.

Registration for Theorizing the Web remains “pay what you can”; we ask you to donate whatever amount you deem fair or can afford (minimum $1). More information (including the registration form) can be found at

In addition to the competitive-submission panels, Theorizing the Web will feature invited keynote panels on photography, algorithmic social control, attention, mental health and illness, and more (to be announced). Confirmed speakers include Gabriella Coleman, Molly Crabapple, Kate Crawford, Sarah Nicole Prickett, Ayesha A. Siddiqi, Zeynep Tufekci, and Naomi Zeichner, with more speakers to be announced soon at

The conference hashtag is #TtW15.

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