Call for Papers

‘Making Sense of the High-Speed Society’

Call for Papers

‘Making Sense of the High-Speed Society’

As a conclusion to our project Pause for Thought: Media Literacy in an Age of Incessant Change (funded through the AHRC Research Networking Scheme), we will be hosting a small, one-day symposium on the topic ‘Making Sense of the High-Speed Society’. The symposium will hopefully be held in person, and will be hosted at the University of Lincoln, UK, on Monday, 6th December between 10.00am-5.00pm. If circumstances make an in-person event impractical or unsafe, it will be held online instead.

The world seems to change so rapidly, it often feels hard to keep up. Concerns regarding the hurried pace and constant upheaval of everyday life are not at all new, but anxieties surrounding these issues seem to be growing increasingly acute, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic (witness, for instance, the focus on problems of ‘burnout’). Continual upheaval, one of the characteristic features of modernity from the Industrial Revolution onward, has intensified to the point where our societies are unable to adjust. This inability to keep up manifests most strikingly in the realm of technology: the platforms, devices, apps, and other media forms that leave a mark on our everyday lives emerge and then obsolesce with dizzying rapidity.

We have all likely devised and shared tactics for adapting to and managing the pressures that the high-speed society places upon us – ways of dealing with the fact that we cannot, and perhaps should not, keep up with the pace of change. That is, ‘media literacy’ – the question of how we learn to navigate the fluctuations of our hyper-mediated world and how we share that skill and knowledge with others – is not an issue that can or should be confined merely to the institutional setting of the university. It does not occur solely within the classroom. In a world saturated by media technologies, all of us must learn – have learned – to live with media’s accelerating pace of change. Or: to ‘make sense’ of media technology even as it threatens to leave us behind.

We invite proposals for 15-minute papers that reflect upon, respond to, or critique these notions of the high-speed society and media literacy and the twin problems of social acceleration and rapid technological development.

We are especially interested in papers that address – in theoretical, conceptual, methodological, or empirical terms – the question of how we might ‘make sense’ of or reframe this state of affairs. Although our project centres upon the study of media and their various literacies, the symposium is intended to be interdisciplinary in nature, for we recognise that that such concerns extend far beyond the disciplinary confines of media studies proper. We encourage proposals from researchers (including doctoral students and early-career researchers) working in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences whose relates to study of the high-speed society.

Themes that papers might potentially address include:

-Social acceleration

-Media literacies (beyond traditional educational institutions)

-Accelerating cycles of technological invention and obsolescence

-Anxieties relating to time-pressures, overwork, information overload, burnout, etc.

-Management culture and the logics of productivity/efficiency

-Political economy of speed

-The uneven distribution of social acceleration

-The pleasurable and oppressive aspects of speed and slowness

-‘Slow’ movements (e.g. slow food, slow journalism, slow research, etc.)

-Resisting the injunction to acceleration

-Artistic or literary responses to/conceptualisations of the high-speed society

Please submit abstracts of 250 words, including your institutional affiliation and a short biography, to both Tom Sutherland ( and Scott Wark ( The deadline for submissions is 1st of November, 2021.

In the interests of keeping participants safe and ensuring the event runs smoothly, we are planning to run this symposium as a small event.

All successful applicants will be asked to submit an extended abstract of 500-1,000 words prior to the symposium’s commencement. These will not be peer-reviewed, but will be copyedited and published on this website. The hope is that the symposium will lead to an edited collection of some kind, which will be discussed with participants.

We have a budget to cover travel costs (and accommodation also if required) for all participants within the UK. If you are interested in travelling from overseas, please speak to us about possible arrangements.

If you have any enquiries, please get in touch with us at the email addresses above.