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"Intersections: Literature, Technology, Science" Topic of October 21-22 EGO/LASGO Conference

October 12, 2011

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MACOMB, IL – A writing director at the University of Notre Dame and a professor/researcher/writer at Syracuse University are the keynote speakers for the eighth annual English Graduate Organization (EGO)/Liberal Arts and Sciences Graduation Organization (LASGO) Conference set for Friday-Saturday, Oct. 21-22 at Western Illinois University-Macomb.

The conference theme is "Intersections: Literature, Technology, Science," which complements WIU's 2011-2012 campus theme: "Science and Technology: Discover, Innovate, Create," said teaching assistant Melissa Wangall, co-president of EGO.

Keynote speakers are Steve Tomasula, who has a doctorate in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and directs the program for writers at Notre Dame; and Jackie Orr, whose doctorate is from the University of California, Berkeley and is an associate professor of sociology at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. They each will speak during the event, which will be held from 7-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 in Morgan Hall 109. The session is open free to the public.

The conference will focus on issues of science in the humanities, on how the humanities work to navigate an increasingly scientific world and on how the humanities contribute vital modes of understanding, responses to -- and novel uses of -- science and technology. Papers and panel discussions about these issues are scheduled for Saturday (Oct. 22).

Graduate students from universities across the U.S. have registered for this conference, and some 60 participants are expected, Wangall said.

Tomasula uses science and the arts to represent how science and technology affect everyday life. His most recent work is the digital novel, "TOC: A New Media Novel" (2010). The novel, "VAS: An Opera in Flatland (2003)," stages its narrative through a critical history of genetics, the decoding of the human genome, 20th century eugenics programs, the relationship between genetics and aesthetics, and the role of emerging digital technologies in understanding how emerging science shapes our lives.

Orr teaches and writes in the fields of cultural politics, contemporary and feminist theory, and critical technoscience studies. Her book, "Panic Diaries: A Genealogy of Panic Disorder" (Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2006), looks at instances of panic and its ‘cures' in the 20th century U.S., from the mass hysteria following the radio broadcast of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds," to a person swallowing a pill to control the panic disorder recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980. Orr, who has experienced panic attacks herself, kept a diary of her participation as a research subject in clinical trials for the Upjohn Company's anti-anxiety drug Xanax. This "panic diary" grounds her study and suggests the complexity of her desire to track the diffusion and regulation of panic in U.S. society, according to the book editors.

The conference is co-sponsored by EGO, LASGO, Western Illinois' Department of English and Journalism, the University Theme Committee, Visiting Lecturers Committee, College of Arts and Sciences and the Provost's Office.

For more information, contact Wangall at

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