Saturday, May 15th, 2021

10-3pm (EST)

Open to all!

COVID exceptionalism is an interdisciplinary, virtual unconference focused on the intersection of public health, technology, and the arts and humanities. This event and companion online archive aims to critically reflect on the present moment both as a mirror of systemic inequalities—race, gender, class—and as a means of radical transformations –educational and economic, scientific and medical, cultural and interpersonal.

This virtual unconference aims to interrogate the structural social underpinnings that the pandemic has exposed as well as the extraordinary social transformations that it has set in motion. What is exceptional about COVID? And for whom? What has truly changed, and what is being revealed for what it always was? Which of the profound changes to our modes of life should be fought, and which should be accepted as a change for the better? What new technologies, living arrangements, modes of governance, and models of care have emerged, and will they outlast this critical moment in our history?

The unconference will take place on Saturday, May 15th. It is distinct from a traditional conference in that all attendees have the opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary discussions and performances, in an open forum in which to reflect on the wider implications of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alongside the forum, we will host an expansive digital archive of the detritus of the epidemic — the traces left in the form of medical bills, journal entries, memorials to the lost, poems, songs, records of hygienic obsessions, artworks, vaccine stickers, eviction notices, loan statements, protest banners, prescription bottles, denied visa applications, administrative emails mandating protocols, memes, children’s drawings….


Bard College Annandale, USA

Bard College Berlin, Germany

Central European University, Hungary/Austria

Recovering Voices, Smithsonian Institution, USA

University of Thessaly, Greece


The unconference is sponsored by the Experimental Humanities Collaborative Network (EHCN) and the Open Society University Network.


The Experimental Humanities Collaborative Network (EHCN) rethinks how we engage with the humanities and seeks to redefine what they are in the light of changing technologies, an increasingly connected global landscape, and the ongoing ecological crisis. Through interdisciplinary and public-facing pedagogy, curricular design, and research, it strives to create more inclusive universities.


This project is also made possible through the Inclusion Challenge funded by Office of the Dean at Bard College.