The Failed Individual

International Conference
November 12-14, 2015

About ‘The Failed Individual’

Conference Overview

During this conference we will explore the cultural dynamics of failure, its aesthetics and permutations, as well as the discourses and rhetoric surrounding this phenomenon.

Read  more about The Failed Individual here or view the program below.

View Program

Keynote Speakers

Geert Lovink
Keynote Lecture: “Post-Snowden Internet Culture: From Selfies to the Politics of Mask Design” 
Saturday, November 14 at 09:00


Rosemarie Garland Thomson
Keynote Lecture: “Dignity and Disability” 
Thursday, November 12 at 18:00


Christopher Taylor
Keynote Lecture: “Theory in the Age of the Less-Lethal”

Friday, November 13 at 09:00



On Thursday evening, the conference will be officially opened with a keynote lecture by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson on “Dignity and Disability.”

The author of Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature (1997) and other seminal publications, Garland-Thomson has centrally shaped the field of disability studies. Her work develops the field of critical disability studies in the medical humanities, broadly understood, to bring forward disability access, equity, and identity to communities inside and outside of the academy. In her keynote lecture, Garland-Thomson will explore how our understandings of dignity and its place in determining the value of human life, in particular the value of life with a disability, influences decisions about reproduction, medical treatment, and end-of-life care, among other topics.

Her aim is to challenge widely-held views that disability and/or the dying process inevitably lead to a loss of dignity and a life that, according to some, is “not worth living” and thus a failed life.

On Friday morning, Christopher Taylor will speak on “Theory in the Age of the Less-Lethal.”

Taylor, whose work reads political theory against the past and present of popular uprisings in the Americas, has published widely on critiques of economic liberalism in thought and political action in the Americas since the height of European colonialism (cf. his article “The Refusal of Work: From the Postemancipation Caribbean to Post-Fordist Empire” in Small Axe, 2014).

In his keynote lecture, which is based on his current research project, Taylor will address the function of critical theory in the context of hyper-administered and hyper-policed publics which are symptomatic of the state’s curtailing of individual agency, on one hand, and the resurgence of social movements globally which can be read as collective insubordinations against the structures which condemn “the 99 percent” to fail, on the other. Specifically, Taylor will explore the recent eruption of what he calls “sad theory,” i.e. critics’ preoccupation with notions denoting negative affects, e.g. precariousness and vulnerability, alongside the shift to less-lethal modalities of policing contentious publics (e.g. tear gas).

A truly critical theory, he argues, can only emerge through engagement with and supplementation from contemporary social movements such as the Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street.

Geert Lovink will deliver a keynote lecture on “Post-Snowden Internet Culture: From Selfies to the Politics of Mask Design.”

Lovink has done extensive research in the field of digital networks and their effect on human agency. In his recent book, Networks Without a Cause (2011), he critically examines our collective obsession with identity and self-management coupled with the fragmentation and information overload endemic to contemporary online culture.

In his keynote lecture, Lovink will discuss the impact of a digital surveillance/sousveillance culture on human agency and posthumanist promises of the “liberatedˮ or “empoweredˮ self.

Conference Organizers

Susanne Hamscha: 
University of Graz/Saarland University


Katharina Motyl:  
Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen


Regina Schober: 
University of Mannheim



Registration Fee

We kindly ask you to confirm your participation in 'The Failed Individual'
conference by transferring 30 € to the following bank account by October 1,

The registration fee covers coffee breaks as well as the reception on Thursday evening.

The conference package will include a list of lunch and dinner recommendations in the conference venue’s vicinity, ranging from budget to more expensive options.

Bank Details

Universitaet Mannheim
Baden-Wuerttembergische Bank

IBAN: DE13600501017496501068

REFERENCE: 2570500301 Fonds 1030 + YOUR SURNAME

Universitaet Mannheim
Baden-Wuerttembergische Bank

Should you be unable to wire money from your country of residence to Germany, please be in touch and we will figure out an alternative together.


Donna Nudd and Terry Galloway Performance 
Friday, Nov 13 at 20:30

Lardo Weeping Or Why Five Bucks Is Paradise

Graduate Workshop & Sponsors

Graduate workshop: Our conference will be preceded by a graduate student workshop on Thursday afternoon, in which Ph.D. candidates will have the opportunity to discuss their work in progress with two of our keynote speakers, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson and Christopher Taylor.

The Graduate Workshop will take place on Thursday the 12th of November and precedes the official opening.

Sponsor: This conference is generously sponsored by the Research and Study Centre and by the University of Saarland.

Hotels & Accommodation

Maritim Hotel

The Maritim hotel is centrally located. The special rate is € 84 / night for a single room and € 115 / night for a double or twin room, respectively. Email or via phone: +49-621-1588-834 and mention the booking code “Failure.” Please be sure to book your room by October 12, 2015.


The Kurpfalzstuben is a traditional hotel. The special rate is € 65 / night. Please contact the English-speaking hotel staff via e-mail at or via phone at +49-621-150392-0 and mention the booking code “Failure.”

Youth Hostel Mannheim

Mannheim Youth Hostel Located next to the river this hostel has been freshly renovated. Depending on dorm size, beds range between € 25 and 35 per night. Please book via the hostel’s online booking platform.

Directions & Contact

Mannheim University is located less than 10 Minutes from Mannheim Main Station in the center of Mannheim. You can download easy-to-follow directions here.

If you have any questions about any aspect of the conference, please do not hesitate to contact us at failedindividual2015'@'

Barockschloss Mannheim
68161 Mannheim