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Message posted on 11/11/2021

Date change and extended CFP: ‘Making Sense of the High-Speed Society

Due to the uncertain COVID situation in the UK, we are moving the forthcoming 'Making Sense of the High-Speed Society' symposium online.

The event will now be held on Friday, January 14th (time TBC - daytime in the UK) and will take place on Zoom rather than in person.

Please see below for our Call for Papers. We have also extended the deadline for abstract submissions to 15th December 2021.


Keynote speakers: Dr. Rebecca Coleman, Reader in Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London; Professor David M. Berry, University of Sussex.

The world seems to change so rapidly, it often feels hard to keep up. Concerns regarding the hurried pace and constant upheaval of everyday life are not at all new, but anxieties surrounding these issues seem to be growing increasingly acute, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic (witness, for instance, the focus on problems of =E2=80=98burnout=E2=80=99)= . Continual upheaval, one of the characteristic features of modernity from the Industrial Revolution onward, has intensified to the point where our societies are unable to adjust. This inability to keep up manifests most strikingly in the realm of technology: the platforms, devices, apps, and other media forms that leave a mark on our everyday lives emerge and then obsolesce with dizzying rapidity.

We have all likely devised and shared tactics for adapting to and managing the pressures that the high-speed society places upon us =E2=80=93 ways of = dealing with the fact that we cannot, and perhaps should not, keep up with the pace of change. That is, =E2=80=98media literacy=E2=80=99 =E2=80=93 the question= of how we learn to navigate the fluctuations of our hyper-mediated world and how we share that skill and knowledge with others =E2=80=93 is not an issue that can or shoul= d be confined merely to the institutional setting of the university. It does not occur solely within the classroom. In a world saturated by media technologies, all of us must learn =E2=80=93 have learned =E2=80=93 to live= with media=E2=80=99s accelerating pace of change. Or: to =E2=80=98make sense=E2=80=99 of media t= echnology even as it threatens to leave us behind.

We invite proposals for 15-minute papers that reflect upon, respond to, or critique these notions of the high-speed society and media literacy and the twin problems of social acceleration and rapid technological development.

We are especially interested in papers that address =E2=80=93 in theoretica= l, conceptual, methodological, or empirical terms =E2=80=93 the question of ho= w we might =E2=80=98make sense=E2=80=99 of or reframe this state of affairs. Alt= hough our project centres upon the study of media and their various literacies, the symposium is intended to be interdisciplinary in nature, for we recognise t= hat that such concerns extend far beyond the disciplinary confines of media studies proper. We encourage proposals from researchers (including doctoral students and early-career researchers) working in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences whose relates to study of the high-speed society.

Themes that papers might potentially address include:

-Social acceleration

-Media literacies (beyond traditional educational institutions)

-Accelerating cycles of technological invention and obsolescence

-Anxieties relating to time-pressures, overwork, information overload, burnout, etc.

-Management culture and the logics of productivity/efficiency

-Political economy of speed

-The uneven distribution of social acceleration

-The pleasurable and oppressive aspects of speed and slowness

-=E2=80=98Slow=E2=80=99 movements (e.g. slow food, slow journalism, slow re= search, etc.)

-Resisting the injunction to acceleration

-Artistic or literary responses to/conceptualisations of the high-speed society

Please submit abstracts of 250 words, including your institutional affiliation and a short biography, to both Tom Sutherland ( and Scott Wark ( The deadline for submissions is 15th December, 2021.

All successful applicants will be asked to submit an extended abstract of 500-1,000 words prior to the symposium=E2=80=99s commencement. These will = not be peer-reviewed, but will be copyedited and published on the project=E2=80=99= s website (, further contributing to the project's ongoing non-academic network and output. The hope is that the symposium will lead to an edited collection of some kind, which will be discussed wit= h participants - neither of these publishing projects will require author publication fees.

If you have any enquiries, please get in touch with us at the email addresses above.

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