2nd Global Conference The Allure of the Erotic An Inclusive Interdisciplinary Project
We have a curious and fascinating range of relationships with the erotic. Perhaps this is fitting given its widespread presence in all aspects of daily life and the power it has to elicit all manner of emotional, aesthetic, rational and irrational responses. In everything we do, from painting to sculpture to dance, from literature to letters to historical documents, from film and television to theatre and performance to photography and all forms of visual media, it is there. Across disciplines, professions, businesses, vocations and practices, the erotic is alive and flourishing.
Wherever humans have lived so has the erotic, as evidenced in fragments of letters between long-separated lovers, in carved phalluses and voluptuous stone goddesses and in music that makes our hearts yearn for something we cannot name. It draws people together yet can sow discontent when it cannot be attained. It crosses racial, ethnic, social, socio-economic, political, educational and age-related boundaries. It causes intense joy and excruciating pain. And it motivates demonstrations of both love and madness, and everything in between.
Yet grappling with ‘the erotic’ is somehow more difficult than it would at first appear.
Standard approaches define it as being “devoted to, or tending to arouse sexual love or desire; strongly marked or affected by sexual desire; generating desire.” Desire is the common factor. But what does it mean to desire a piece of art, a movement in a dance, a person? Is each erotic thing somehow similar, or are there different kinds of desire?
The erotic is a complex and often tangled web of meeting points and intersections at the centre of human existence. It informs our lives, shapes our perceptions and pulls us toward one another while being itself shaped by shifting tastes and perceptions. Shrouded in mystery, it is tantalising, alluring and dangerous all at once.
Perhaps the erotic is a yearning toward connection, toward touch, toward a symbiosis of some kind. Do we all wish, consciously or unconsciously, to connect with the erotic? Are we voluntarily or even involuntarily drawn toward the erotic? Could the erotic be considered a bridge between people, between us and them, between you and me?
Building on The Joys of the Erotic (2018), our second meeting will propose it is all these things and more. It is: a meeting point of intimacy, sensuality, arousal, sexuality, longing and desire; an interface between aesthetics, form, taste, art; a driver of photography, visual imagery and tactile textures; a component of music, performance, dance and fluidity; the object of fashion, design, marketing and social mass appeal; a unique avenue for ethical, political, social, economic, cultural, psychological, and philosophical insights and perspectives. The erotic unites, highlights, undermines and subverts the emotional and intellectual; it stands at the heart of (sexual) relationships, orientations, acts and behaviours and remains compelling to us all.
Traditionally seen as socially taboo and often associated with fear and shame, the erotic continues to erupt, thrusting itself into popular culture by any means possible. The erotic, as fitting for such a powerful concept, will not be denied.
This fully inclusive and accessible interdisciplinary conference aims to explore the challenging, paradoxical and ambiguous nature of the ‘erotic’ which finds a resonance inside us all with a view to forming a selective publication to engender further research and collaboration. By providing a forum for ideas, arguments and experiences that might otherwise not receive attention, we aim to explore the Erotic, those who study it, those who live within it, those who have never found it, and those who use it to build connections.
Key themes to be explored include but are not limited to:
- Histories of the erotic
- Local, national, international and global perspectives on the erotic
- Politics and the erotic
- Economics and the commercialization of eroticism
- Public spaces and eroticism
- Virtual spaces and eroticism
- Dating apps
- The law, crime and the erotic
- Madness and eroticism (e.g. Elizabeth Bathory)
- The erotics of death
- Women who write and read gay erotica
- Erotic encounters with the non-human: inanimate objects, sex dolls and erotic robots
- Eroticized combat
- The erotic imagination: literature, art, sculpture, photography, music, theatre, cinema, body art, selfies
- The erotic and education
- The erotic and identity: disability, ethnicity, gender, class and otherness
- The eroticized, and de-eroticized body
- The erotic, pornography and exploitation
- The erotic, ethics and philosophy
- The erotic: absence, control and excess
- The erotic and the perverse
- The erotic and sexual representation
- The role of eroticism in relationships: romance, desire, arousal, excitement
- Eroticism and fantasy or role playing
- Eroticism & fetishism
- The psychology of the erotic
- Religion and the erotic
- The erotic in popular culture