Procrastination: Cultural Explorations


A one-day interdisciplinary conference at the University of Oxford

Wednesday 2nd 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

250-word proposals, along with a 50-word autobiography, should be sent to Danielle Yardy and Elizabeth Chatterjee at by 4th April 2014.

Financial support is available, especially for graduate students and early-stage researchers. Application details for bursaries will be announced in due course.

Early Career