War and Memory:  artistic and cultural representations of individual, collective and national memories in twentieth-century Europe at war

7-9 September 2012, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw.

Organised jointly by the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Queen’s University of Belfast.

Keynote speakers: Norman Davies (tbc), Jay Winter, Barbara Szacka.

Presentations centred on the literary, cinematographic and artistic representations of war in the twentieth century, particularly World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and the Second World War, are warmly invited from scholars worldwide, as are papers concerned with the memories of these wars, their legacies and their metamorphoses over the years.  The conference aims to examine the representations in the different disciplines, in different genres and in media such as film and propaganda of the phenomena of war and conflict, together with the way in which individual and collective memories of those phenomena are transmitted. The participating academics will be those who are engaged in research on the cultural and aesthetic effects of war and conflict on Europeans, particularly in the twentieth century.  The conference will include the presentation of results of research devoted to artistic contributions to collective memory-building, with special reference to civil societies in Europe. The conference will explore the modes by which cultural memory of wars and conflicts survives from one era to another, how it is conveyed, and to what extent it is subject to a dual perspective, that of event, ‘rupture’ and transition on the one hand, and that of continuity on the other.  In terms of generations and memory, the original participants are gradually disappearing now, leaving new generations to reinvent the memory, or memories, of wars, superimposing layer upon layer of memory on the original phenomenon as in a palimpsest.  Topical (and occasionally even urgent) issues of cultural ‘amnesia’ that are the consequences of war or conflict will also be subjects of discussion.

The conference is one of the events organised to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Graduate School for Social Research at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences:  http://www.css.edu.pl

Other subjects will include:

  • The interaction between historical accounts and cultural representations of war.
  • The poetics and historiography of war.  The forms in which writers and artists of all kinds and in all literary and creative genres (historical accounts, essays, biographies, autobiographies, fiction, poetry, theatre, film, and the arts) have chosen to reactivate, (re)write, (re)construct, and commemorate the past in their work, or have used writing and/or other media as commemorative practices.
  • The artistic objectification of memory and its relationship with the results of historiography transmitted, among other means, through school textbooks.
  • The construction of meaning and identity in the context of war via the medium of artistic and historical representation.
  • How current representations of war and conflicts in cultural products (written, oral and visual) impact on the development of present-day relations between different nations and ethnic groups in Europe.
  • The analysis of the instruments of 'memory-building' that serve political or ideological purposes.

Papers should be presented in English, and should last no longer than 20 minutes.  Ample allowance will be made for discussion of the papers. Audio and video equipment will be on hand.

Early-bird rate (registration before 30th June 2012):  80 euros / 320 PLN.

Postgraduate concessionary rate:  60 euros / 240 PLN.

Four sessions will focus on the following themes:

  • Session 1: 'War, memory and the visual arts'
  • Session 2: 'National historiographies’
  • Session 3: 'Rewriting history through fiction'
  • Session 4: 'Transcultural Memory in the twentieth century’

Among additional attractions, there will be a showing of relevant audio-visual material, including art works, film and music.

N.B.  Please note that the Polish airline LOT is the official carrier of the Conference.   Full details are on the 'Travel' page. 

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