centre-ninteenth-century-studies-logoDurham University’s Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies is holding a one-day conference on 27 May 2017, Conflict, Healing, and the Arts in the Long Nineteenth Century.

The ‘long nineteenth century’ – from Hobsbawm’s ‘Age of Revolution’ beginning in 1774, through the ‘Age of Empire’ and end of the First World War in 1918 – witnessed a multitude of military conflicts and wars that shaped and reshaped identities, communities, nations, and empires. While individuals’ and nations’ artistic responses to these wars have been well documented by those working in art history, musicology, ethnomusicology, and literature, such work tends to operate exclusive of each other. Often it focuses on the specifics of artistic activities and outputs of individuals and groups rather than seeking out theoretical principles by which to conceptualise artistic practices, responses, and discourses during war. As this conference seeks to explore, healing is one such conceptual model for arts and conflict which can bridge regional and disciplinary foci within the arts and humanities, while simultaneously engaging with medical humanities, social science, and the history of medicine.

This conference will investigate the ways in which the arts – materially, sonically, and aesthetically – promoted, transformed, and negated experiences of healing for soldiers, civilians, and communities between 1774 and 1918 across European Empires, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. We consider ‘healing’ in a broad sense, including both physical and psychological healing, occurring at personal and inter- and intra-cultural levels. The keynote address will be by John Morgan O’Connell (Cardiff University). Participants from a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives are welcome.

Call for Papers

Suggested topics related to the healing role of the arts during conflict and war, 1774-1918:

  • Written word: letters, diary-keeping, memoirs, fiction, poetry, hospital and battalion magazines
  • Oral cultures: storytelling, preaching, singing
  • Performance cultures: theatre, film, musical performance, musical composition, musical improvisation, dance
  • Visual arts: painting, sketching, trench art, photography, sheet music covers, propaganda posters
  • Memory-keeping and commemoration: gardens, memorials, architecture, religious services, scrapbooking, collecting, musical composition and performance
  • The origins of the disciplines of art and music therapies
  • Application of arts therapy models (psychoanalytic, social-art, person-centred, group-interactive, feminist, Gestalt, social art therapy, etc.) to past artistic practices, discourses, and processes during conflict and war
  • Artistic practices, discourses, products, and processes in spaces of healing, training, and combat
  • The role of the arts in fostering, reifying, and negating healing practices and rituals in communities, ethnic and religious groups, and nations

Abstract Submission Information

Abstracts are invited from academic staff, postgraduates, and other researchers for 20-minute individual papers and panels of three papers (90 minutes).

All abstracts should be no longer than 300 words. Please also include your name, institutional affiliation or city, and a bio of up to 100 words.

Papers accepted will be considered for inclusion in a future edited collection.

Please send abstracts by 31 January 2017 to Michelle Meinhart. Acceptance decisions will be made by 1 March 2017.

This conference is supported by Durham University’s Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, Centre for Visual Arts and Culture, Centre for Medical Humanities, and Centre for Death and Life Studies, along with the US-UK Fulbright Commission.

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