Call for Streams
I lived principally in the country as a girl, and passed a considerable time in Scotland. I made occasional visits to the more picturesque parts; but my habitual residence was on the blank and dreary northern shores of the Tay, near Dundee. Blank and dreary on retrospection I call them; they were not so to me then. They were the eyry of freedom, and the pleasant region where unheeded I could commune with the creatures of my fancy.Mary Shelley, preface to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus
Dundee had an embryonic role in the creation of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Approaching the northern fringes of the United Kingdom, Dundee’s ‘eyry of freedom’ helped shape the imaginary that would result in Shelley’s famous text, and the infamous and unnatural conglomeration that it unleashed upon the world. Shelley’s reconstituted monster, created by Dr Frankenstein in his experimentations with the fringes of life, has become a cultural icon from page to stage to screen, and beyond. In taking it as inspiration for the theme of the delayed Critical Legal Conference 2021, Frankenstein’s monster is reformulated as a rich and productive concept that encounters many of the multiple and profound tensions of modern law.
Frankenstein’s monster is typically characterised by the joining together of dead parts to constitute a reanimated whole, brought (back) to life by the power of modern science. As a conceptual figure, it thus becomes a notion of both unity and separation, of life and death, and of the power of reason to structure and animate otherwise individual and decaying parts. Rendered as a form of law—as a Frankenlaw—it conjures questions of detachment and community, of touching and separation, of independence and being bound, of unity and corporation, of the rational resolution of multiplicity—and of the modern social order: a divided whole, a community of atomistic modern subjects under a single, sovereign hierarchy.
Partaking in critical legal studies at Dundee, in the temporal shadow of Mary Shelley’s nascent imagination, it seems appropriate to let the theme of Frankenlaw permeate our reflections. To think with Frankenlaw is to encounter questions of corporate personhood, of the relationship between life and science, of bodies and their parts, of post-state or post-sovereign modes of power, of law as dead things (texts, buildings, victims) compiled and brought to life in different ways, of the possibility of unifying plurality, of community and modern subjecthood. It is an invitation and an opportunity to construct new concepts and modes of legal thought out of dead and useless ones, to animate our encounters with law in controversial and provocative ways, to seek to go beyond the boundaries of reason and modernity and see what we find.
Huddled around the thought of law, the dark of the uncritical creeping in, we shall make ghost stories of our own—we shall conjure for one another our own terrifying and inspiring visions … of Frankenlaw!
This is a call for streams for CLC2021, facilitated by the University of Dundee from 2-4 September 2021. Due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, it is anticipated that the conference will take place in a blended format, with some face-to-face encounters in Dundee and others online. If needed, the event will be held fully online.
Conveners of streams, thematic panels, or other activities should submit their proposals by 31 March 2021. The call for individual papers will then be released in mid-April 2021, with papers being submitted directly to the conveners of the streams and accepted on a rolling basis until the deadline in June 2021.
Stream conveners will then provide the organisers with the details of the speakers and papers for their stream’s panel(s). As in previous years, there will be a ‘general stream’ with no particular theme that will be convened by the conference organisers.
Indicative Topics or Themes
Below are some suggestions of the possible kinds of streams or themes that might be derived from Frankenlaw. These are not intended in any way to limit or prescribe what the streams for the conference will be. The final streams will be constituted from those that are submitted, not from the below list.
- Law as a separated whole
- Community and division
- Ethics of critique, and/or of going beyond
- Law and corporeality
- Frankenlaw and covid
- Politics, law, and technology
- The power and limits of reason
- Law at boundaries of life/death/human
- The idea of localising law and theory
Given the anticipated blended (or online) format, in order to maximise physical attendance where this is safe and possible, we welcome proposals from colleagues who may be able to host face-to-face ‘hubs’ or satellite events at their home institutions (or, indeed, in their homes).
It is imagined that these physical ‘hubs’, Frankenlegally divided from the hub in Dundee, would be streamed online for conference delegates via the main conference platform. They will thus act as a distributed physical presence, for those unable to travel to Dundee. If you are interested in hosting a ‘hub’ or something similar, please contact the organisers to discuss further details of what this might entail.
To propose a stream , please submit the following to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 March 2021:
- A 200 to 300 word abstract or outline of your proposed stream
- Names and affiliations of the stream’s convener(s)
- A single email address for the communicating convener
- The email address to be used for paper submissions (if different from above)
- You are welcome to propose a stream in an alternative or non-traditional format. Include brief details of your proposed format and any requirements alongside your abstract. Or email to discuss.
Any queries or information, contact: email@example.com
A shareable PDF of this call is available here.