Call for Papers

Here’s the original Call for Papers for the conference that took place on 2 July 2014. We are still considering contributions to the Procrastination Seminar, to take place at All Souls College in autumn 2014, so do get in touch if you would like to be involved. 




a one-day interdisciplinary conference
at the University of Oxford

Wednesday 2 July 2014


What do St. Augustine, Kafka, Samuel Johnson, William James, Susan Sontag, Douglas Adams, Hitler, and Hamlet all have in common? PROCRASTINATION. If it isn’t ‘the quintessential modern problem’ (New Yorker), it is certainly familiar to all who have picked up a pen, both within and outside academia.

Through papers from a variety of disciplines, we hope to chart the phenomenon of procrastination, and the fraught moral and political claims it provokes. Who procrastinates, how, and why? Is the concept a moral universal, the product of particular contexts, or unique to the anglophone world? What ‘cures’—and what unexpected defences—have various writers proposed?

The conveners welcome 20-minute papers on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Literary treatments, life histories, and ethnographies of procrastination
  • Conceptions of time and time management across history
  • The morality of procrastination, from the ancient world to the Eurozone, the factory to the self-help shelves
  • Procrastination and creativity
  • Political procrastination, from bureaucratic pathologies to ‘weapons of the weak’ and government ‘nudging’
  • Procrastination’s relations: weakness of will, boredom, apathy, disgust, and fear
  • Office life, academic life, and communal procrastination
  • Procrastination, the internet, and social media

Oxford Logo B&W (small)250-word proposals, along with a 50-word autobiography, should be sent to Danielle Yardy and Elizabeth Chatterjee at [email protected] by 4th April 2014.


3 thoughts on “Call for Papers

  1. Dorothy Byrne says:

    Seeing a reference to aunts here, I feel bound to respond as the aunt of Liz Chatterjee. I have been a journalist for nearly forty years and have read and heard on many occasions men and women say, “I’m going to get that bastard,” and similar comments. I am thankful that almost all human beings, in my experience, who vow revenge never get round to it. They go to the pub. They fall asleep if they have been to the pub. They spot someone they fancy. But for procrastination, the human race would have wiped itself out. Procrastination is the safety valve of the human race. It’s the mechanism which makes us think twice and decide we can’t be bothered. I should think that early humans often meant to get round to murdering each other but ended up devouring a deer that night instead. I hate to say it oh brilliant academics but the world probably won’t miss that book you never wrote and the tree you thereby saved may be the saviour of our planet.

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