Category Archives: Call for Papers

Call For Papers: 15 May deadline for OCLW/ TORCH Conference, ‘After-Image: Life-Writing and Celebrity’

OCLW and TORCH are funding two conferences related to life-writing this year, please see below for details on the conference, ‘After-Image: Life-Writing and Celebrity’:

Call for Papers, 15 May abstract submission deadline

After-Image: Life-Writing and Celebrity
Saturday, 19 September 2015
The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW) at Wolfson College, Oxford

With funding from the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing, the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, and the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King’s College London (CLWR)

 Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Sarah Churchwell Andrew O’Hagan
Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities, University of East Anglia

2015 Writer in Residence, The Eccles Centre at the British Library

Novelist

Creative Writing Fellow,

King’s College London 

In the last decade, the fields of life-writing and celebrity studies have separately gained traction as areas for provocative critical analysis, but the significant connections between them have been overlooked. In celebrity studies, stories about individual people are examined through national, cultural, economic and political contexts. The function of the person’s image is considered rather than the life from which that image was/is derived. Conversely, life-writing does not always take into account the impact of celebrity on the life, and instead portrays it as an event rather than a condition with psychological impact which could be an integral part of the narrative.

 Through a one-day conference entitled ‘After-Image: Life-Writing and Celebrity,’ we want to consider the interplay between celebrity and life-writing. The conference will explore ideas of image, persona and self-fashioning in an historical as well as a contemporary context and the role these concepts play in the writing of lives. How does the story (telling) of a historical life—of Cleopatra or Abraham Lincoln, for instance— alter when we re-read it in terms of celebrity? What is the human impact of being a celebrity— in the words of Richard Dyer, ‘part of the coinage of every day speech’? And how does this factor in when we use archival materials related to celebrities, such as diaries, letters, memoirs, interviews, press accounts, oral histories, apocryphal tales, etc.? Furthermore, what are the ethical responsibilities of life-writers when approaching such famous stories?

Possible topics for papers include but are not limited to:

  • Celebrity in the fields of literature, politics, entertainment and public life
  • Historical reevaluations of celebrity from earlier periods
  • Royal lives
  • The politics of writing celebrity lives
  • The psychology of celebrity
  • Fame, famousness, fandom, stardom, myth and/or iconicity
  • The celebrity as life-writer (i.e. celebrity memoirs, etc.)
  • Using celebrity lives in historical fiction
  • The celebrity and identity
  • Showmanship, freak shows and the circus
  • Identity, power and violence in lives of the famous
  • Images and the press
  • Writing celebrity lives from below

We also welcome papers on any issues arising from these questions and disciplines.

The conference organizers invite abstracts for individual 20-minute presentations/papers or panel proposals. Presenters should submit abstracts of 300 words by 15 May 2015 to Nanette O’Brien (nanette.obrien@wolfson.ox.ac.uk) and Oline Eaton (faith.eaton@kcl.ac.uk). Please send your abstract as a separate attachment in a PDF or Word document, and include on it your name, affiliation, and a brief bio.

Call for Papers: Silence in the Archives

This conference is taking place on 7th November 2015 at Wolfson College, funded by the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing and The Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities.

Scholars increasingly look to women’s own life writing in the nineteenth century as a way of reconstructing both their lived experiences and their inner lives. While diaries, journals, letters, and memoirs offer a window into the past, paradoxically it is often the absences in the archives, which provide the most insight into women’s lives in the period. Torn out pages and scratched out sentences are simultaneously frustrating and intriguing for scholars, offering hints and clues to the unspeakable and the unacceptable.

Women’s life writing from the nineteenth century is thus intrinsically tied up with censorship: both by the self and others. Some beliefs, thoughts and ideas may have been too inflammatory to commit to paper in the first place – representative of inadmissible ambitions or transgressive desires. Some women later destroyed their papers, belatedly conforming to constraints of gender, class and propriety. Others were edited by family members, erasing evidence contrary to a public persona or prevalent norms.

This conference will bring together researchers from across a range of disciplines in the humanities to explore the extent and the significance of omissions in women’s life writing and question what silences in the archives can tell us about what it meant to be a woman in the nineteenth century.

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

  • Motives, practices and implications of censored life writing
  • Self-censorship or destruction by women of their own papers
  • Gender and sexuality encoded in private writing
  • Adaptations of private correspondence, collaborative documents, and political writing
  • Acts of posthumous suppression or revision by families or literary executors
  • Resurfacing or rediscovery of previously lost or unknown life writing
  • Interpretation of archival silence in the age of the digital archive
  • Research strategies for approaching, reading and interpreting gaps in life writing

300-word proposals, along with a short biography, should be sent to Lyndsey Jenkins and Alexis Wolf at silenceinthearchives2015@gmail.com by 5th June 2015.

CFP for the international symposium: ‘What is a letter? An interdisciplinary approach’

‘What is a letter? An interdisciplinary approach’
Oxford, St Edmund Hall from 2 to 4 July 2014

Deadline for submitting abstracts: 3 March 2014

Over recent years the number of studies, conferences, international networks, and editorial projects which focus on letters, letter writers, and letter-writing cultures has grown remarkably. As a result, our understanding of the letter as a form of text, as a material object, and as a generator or reflector of social norms and cultural practices has become more nuanced. However, at the same time our concept of the letter has become less well defined, as theoretical aspects of the epistolary form have not received comparable attention. The topical, interdisciplinary discussion of what exactly a ‘letter’ is and what terms and methods one should adopt to deal with it, is still very much in its infancy.

There are many questions to answer: how – if at all – can we conceptualize letters as a genre, and what is to be gained from that? What characteristics of letter-writing are relevant across disciplines? What are the key frames of reference in the process: single letter, correspondence, or ‘epistolarium’ (Liz Stanley)? In what ways do variable transmission processes – including the collection, archiving, editing, or exhibition of letters – influence our perception of the epistolary? Finally, and this is perhaps the most important question, how does one approach a type of text which is used both as a pragmatic and as a literary form and which is rooted in historical reality while at the same time retaining its potential to deploy fictional qualities?

In order to address these and related questions, the symposium aims to bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines and countries, and from universities and public institutions, for an exchange of knowledge which will lay the foundations for an inclusive and interdisciplinary model of and methodology for analysing letters. The symposium will primarily consider and compare theories and practices of letter-writing from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, but proposals relating to earlier periods are also welcome. We invite papers (20–25 minutes in length) which address aspects of letters and letter-writing against this background. Analyses of theoretical aspects of letters as a type of text are welcome on their own or in the context of a case study or studies.

We would expressly like to invite scholars from the following disciplines to submit a proposal: linguistics, philosophy, psychology, medicine, sociology, theology, media studies, law, history of art, history (including, in particular, postal history), editorial studies, cultural studies, and modern languages (including English).

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

* Genre typology

* Types of letters, themes of letters

* Relationships between pragmatic and literary qualities in and of letters

* The effect of editing/archiving/exhibiting letters (practices and processes) on defining the genre (and vice versa)

* Aspects of transmission

* Letters in competition with other media

English and German are the working languages of the symposium, and an interpreter will be present to summarize papers and assist with the discussion. The papers will be published in a conference volume. We hope that the international and interdisciplinary focus of the symposium will lead to further collaborative projects.

If you are interested in giving a paper, please send an abstract of no more than 350 words plus a short paragraph with bio-bibliographical information to:

Dr Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzig (Oxford), isabel.matthews-schlinzig@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk

Caroline Socha (Heidelberg), caroline.socha@gs.uni-heidelberg.de

The deadline for submitting abstracts is 3 March 2014.

Please note: travel expenses and accommodation costs will, in all likelihood, not be reimbursed; St Edmund Hall has agreed to offer speakers single en-suite rooms (including breakfast) at a discounted rate.