FOMO: Exploring What We Are Missing

A Literary Symposium

GW EGSA Symposium 2020; 9am-4pm, February 28, Gelman Library; Keynote Speaker: Ashon Crawley (Univ. of Virginia)

Join us for a literary and cultural studies symposium dedicated to exploring the fear of missing out (FOMO). The GW English Graduate Student Association’s annual conference will feature keynote speaker Professor Ashon Crawley of UVA, author of Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility, as well as several panels of scholars discussing what we are missing and what we are missing out on from a variety of vantage points and historical/literary contexts.

February 28th, 2020 from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. in the National Churchill Library Center, located in the Gelman Library, 2130 H Street. No RSVP required for GW students and faculty; others please contact the event host Brian Dumm.

The “fear of missing out,” or FOMO, captures the zeitgeist of millennial and modern pop culture, but is simultaneously germane to a broader audience and a longer history linking the individual with missing and missing out. As a contemporary expression tied to technology and social media, FOMO is concerned with reality, possibility, and the delta of dissonance in between. FOMO can be humorously self-deprecating and crushingly self-deflating. It can be both a motive and an obstacle that simultaneously energizes and stymies, stimulates and stultifies. Its kindred spirits, missing and missing out are discernible in works of literature and art from other periods and geographies, and express similar anxieties that something more exciting, interesting or worthy is not present to us or in us, and might be elsewhere. “What are we missing?” and “What are we missing out on?” are questions about how we perceive ourselves and others, and bring in concerns about self and social identities, ability/disability, and proprioception/sensation, among others.

FOMO 2020 includes scholars from across the disciplines of literary and cultural studies engaging in discussions about FOMO, missing, and missing out. In addition to the above, other questions might include: Where do we find FOMO, missing and missing out in literature/art/film? How are the concepts explored? To what are they responding and from where do they come? What does an excavation of the terms suggest about connections to/between theory, literature, and culture? How do FOMO, missing and missing out impact how we consider and engage each other, other creatures, and the planet? How are related concepts, such as time, alterity, and possibility, connected? How do form and genre play with the idea of missing and missing out? What is missing—if anything is missing at all?

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