About the Symposium

What is gained and what is lost, what is revealed and what is obscured by understanding the moment in which we live as global? This one-day symposium at the University of Virginia will explore the alignment of two dominant terms within the academy, the “contemporary” and the “global,” to question, challenge, and expand the relationship between them. We intend to interrogate the ways in which the phenomena that draw the attention of scholars of the contemporary—the rise of digital media, an increasingly inter- and supra-national economy, technologies of migration and communication, far-reaching environmental degradation, and political unrest—have become prominent reference points for writing about our current moment. While the time in which we live is inarguably global, this schema can obscure alternate ones and allow us to forget that the characteristics marking our era as “global” have long and complex histories of their own. Inviting a vibrant group of scholars, we hope that this symposium might lead to longer-term collaborations and an intellectual community that will supplement the ties we hold to our own departments and institutions—indeed, to create a wider-reaching and even global network of discourse surrounding this subject.