Conference Schedule


A Graduate Student Conference

Columbia University

Institute for Comparative Literature and Society

 Co-Sponsored by:

 Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

Columbia University Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Columbia University Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures

Columbia University Department of History

Columbia University Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures

Columbia University Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

April 19, 2013

Deutsches Haus- 420 W. 116th St

9:00-9:30 Coffee and Pastries

9:30-11:00am Panel One: Incommensurability and the Politics of Measurement

1. Katherine Fry, (University of Toronto):  Incommensurability in Methodologies of Comparison

2. Katie Kadue, (University of California, Berkeley): Invisible Empires: Immeasurable Intellectual Labor in Erasmus, Hooke, and Du Bellay

3. Sophia Sunseri, (University of Toronto): The Incommensurability of Past and Present: An Exploration of Subjectivity in “Philomena and Procne”  

Discussant: Dr. Eleanor Johnson (Columbia University)

11:15am-11:45am Keynote: Dr. Steven Shapin (Harvard University): How to Think About Measurement

12:00-1:30pm Break

1:45pm-3:00pm Panel Two: Measuring Material and Experience in History

1. Kaijun Chen, (Columbia University): How Much does a Qianlong Vase cost? Regulation and Precedents on Price and Wage of Ceramic Production

2. Yiren Zheng, (Columbia University): Before Writing: Child Image in Premodern Chinese Literature 

3. Rob Goodman, (Columbia University): Machiavelli’s Measured Advisor

Discussant: Dr. Zara Anishanslin (Columbia University)

3:15pm-4:45pm Panel Three: Regulating Psychological and Physical Space 

1. James Graham, (Columbia University): Modeling Cities, Modeling Citizens: Psychotechnical Subjectivity and the City of Rationalized Rest, 1927-30

2. Jason Resnikoff, (Columbia University): Reaping the Whirlwind: American Psychologists and the First World War; or, An Introduction to Warspace

3. Earl Perez-Foust, (University of California, Santa Barbara):  Narratives of Legitimacy: Kilometer Zero and the Spatialized Temporal Dislocations in Rizal Park

4. Phillip Schauss, (New School for Social Research): Building (and) the ‘aesthetics’ of regularity

Discussant: Dr. Reinhold Martin (Columbia University)

5:00pm-6:30pm Panel Four: Measuring the Body 

1. Siri Suh, (Columbia University): When Abortion Doesn’t Count: The Practice and Politics of Measuring Abortion in Senegalese Hospitals

2. Dora Zhang, (Princeton University): Identifying the Criminal Body: Alphonse Bertillon and the Language of Measurement

3. Johanna Magin, (Columbia University): Individual Experience and Universal Authority: Measuring Health and Happiness from an Early Modern’s Perspective

Discussant: Dr. Rishi Goyal (Columbia University)

 Free and Open to the Public


CFP Deadline Extended

We have extended the deadline for abstracts for the April 19, 2013 Columbia ICLS Graduate Student Conference on “Measurement” to:

MARCH 17, 2013

We are in particular need of proposals for short form presentations.

Please send abstracts to

Keynote Speaker

We are proud to announce the keynote speaker for our Graduate Student Conference:

Professor Steven Shapin, Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University

You can read more about Dr. Shapin here.  We look forward to learning from him in April!



Steven Shapin.JPG

(image from


Call For Papers




APRIL 19, 2013

The idea of measurement is inevitably invoked as we talk about almost anything: time, politics, objects, space, economics, race, class, mind, identity, culture, society, body, arts, nature and so on. The disciplinary fields in which ideas of measurement play an especially important role are contested and imbued with political and epistemic struggle Once measurements are in place they are treated as inevitable and resist new forms of ordering, even as measurements are always being established and transformed with the historical unfolding of human events. How do individuals, knowing that our measures are only those of fallible human perception, understand the seeming objectivity of measurements?  What are the standards by which we measure the physical, social, moral, and creative worlds, and how do they change? How do the units and tools of measurement impact our understanding and evaluation of spaces, subjectivities, objects, times, and ideas? How do methods of measurement shape the social, political and intellectual spheres in which they are employed? How can we challenge them?

This conference seeks to bring together graduate students from a variety of fields and disciplines in order to comparatively explore the idea of measurement, in all forms of political, linguistic, social and cultural expression. We seek to illuminate the concept of measurement through exploring the manifold ways in which it has been employed. We invite all papers that consider ideas of measurements, tools of measurements, politics of measurement, cultural and linguistic specificity of measurements, and self-consciousness in the construction and use of measurements. Both interrogations of the concept of measurement and examinations of particular instances in which measurements have been inventively employed are welcome.

This conference will involve two types of panels: traditional 15-minute presentations, and 5-10 minute presentations of questions to be discussed in an open discussion format.  Submissions should specify whether they are intended to be “short” or “long” format presentations.

Possible topics for 15 minute presentations include but are not limited to:

–          Linguistic incommensurability in translation

–          Ideas of certainty and uncertainty

–          Philosophy of scientific measurement

–          Political constructions of and through  measurement

–          Assessments of beauty and of moral worth

–          Measurement of success and failure

–          The impact of units and apparatus of measurement on the understanding and evaluation of spaces, objects, times, and ideas

–          The influence of new methods of measurement on political and intellectual spheres

–          How measurements are constructed as “objective”

5-10 minute presentations should consider one of two topics.  They should be presented in the form of an introduction to, and posing of, a question for discussion:

–          The subject of the measurement of success within the academy.   How do we evaluate our own and students´ work, achievements, and learning?

–          The idea of measurement within judgments and comparisons between cultures and civilizations.  How do measurement tools impact our discussions of comparative cultures?  How are specific measurements invoked in evaluating and comparing world cultures?


February 28, 2013

PLEASE SEND ALL SUBMISSIONS TO: measurementconference2013@gmail.comImage