CFP Sep 9, 2013

communication+1: Afterlives of Systems

Deadline: Nov 25, 2013

Florian Sprenger

Call for Papers
Afterlives of Systems

communication+1, Volume 3, 2014

Guest Editors: Christina Vagt, Florian Sprenger

This issue of communication+1 investigates the afterlives of systems
since the early 20th century, following Aby Warburgs and Walter
Benjamins historiographical concept of afterlife as the transformations
and iterations a concept traverses to become productive at a specific
moment in time. Under the impression of todays global crisis phenomena
and the rise of an 'ecological paradigm' (Erich Hörl), we ask for papers
that explore these afterlives from a historical or systematic
perspective. We are interested in the promises, plausibilities and
argumentative resources of system-oriented thinking, holistic or
vitalistic worldviews and mechanistic approaches on different fields of
knowledge during the 20th century and their current revival in the 21st

When system-oriented thinking emerged within biological contexts in the
first half of the 20th century, it came along with universal
pretensions: The concepts of ecosystems (Tansley) and general systems
theory (von Bertalanffy) were both immersed in longstanding struggles
between materialism and holism. From this context stemmed the rise of
cybernetics and neocybernetics after the Second World War, which
incorporated the principles of feedback and self-organization
(Maturana/Varela/von Foerster/Luhmann). System-oriented thinking in the
once-new fields of ecology, cybernetics, or systems theory itself seemed
to offer an alternative to the futile opposition of mechanistic or
atomistic perspective on the one side and holistic, organicistic or
vitalistic perspectives on the other side. Nonetheless, underlying this
institutionalization of system-oriented thought were diverse models of
the relationship between a system and its parts, and alongside with that
a renaissance of holistic concepts, e.g. holocoen (Friedrichs),
biosphere (Vernadsky), noosphere (Teilhard de Chardin), synergetics
(Buckminster Fuller), or Gaia (Lovelock).

How do these debates and affective states survive and live on in today's
discussions on new materialisms, object-oriented philosophies, media
ecologies, or environmentalisms? Was the renaissance of holism in 20th
century thought an effect of various system crisis, taking new media
technologies such as television, computers, satellites and space
shuttles as stabilizing 'cure' against dystopian future scenarios after
World War II? Or should we understand the afterlives of systems within a
broader perspective of new media induced models of subjectivity and
agency that still have to be explored? Which role does the figure of the
observer play in all this? Are there notions of systems in arts and
architecture that are not incorporated in the historical struggles? What
does it mean when materialisms today become holistic again? What is
systemic in assemblages?

Please submit short proposals of no more than 500 words by November
25th, 2013 to
Upon invitation, full text submissions will be due March 31st, 2014,
with expected publication in July, 2014. Although there is no set word
limit, suggested length for the final submission is between 4500 and
7000 words.

About the Journal
The aim of communication +1 is to promote new approaches to and open new
horizons in the study of communication from an interdisciplinary
perspective. We are particularly committed to promoting research that
seeks to constitute new areas of inquiry and to explore new frontiers of
theoretical activities linking the study of communication to both
established and emerging research programs in the humanities, social
sciences, and arts. Other than the commitment to rigorous scholarship,
communication +1 sets no specific agenda. Its primary objective is to
create is a space for thoughtful experiments and for communicating these

communication +1 is an open access journal supported by University of
Massachusetts Amherst Libraries and the Department of Communication

Briankle G. Chang, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Managing Editor
Zachary J. McDowell, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Advisory Board
Kuan-Hsin Chen, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
Lawrence Grossberg, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Catherine Malabou, Kingston University, United Kingdom
Jussi Parikka, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
John Durham Peters, University of Iowa
David Gunkel, Northern Illinois University
Greg Wise, Arizona State University

CFP: communication+1: Afterlives of Systems. In:, Sep 9, 2013 (accessed Dec 6, 2021), <>.