CFP: ‘Unconventional Archives: Literature and the Uses of History’

Unconventional Archives: Literature and the Uses of History
An International Workshop
Ertegun House, Oxford
17 -18 January 2014

Unconventional Archives: Literature and the Uses of History is a two-day workshop to be held at Ertegun House, Oxford on the 17th and 18th of January 2014.  The aim of the workshop is to draw together students and scholars of the late nineteenth century to the present, in order to explore how our understanding of substantial categories in the history of ideas, such as ‘Enlightenment’ and ‘Modernity’, changes when we come to examine these terms through what we term ‘unconventional archives’: sources that are generally seen as unusual objects of literary analysis. In doing so, the workshop seeks to highlight how the study of literature has evolved in the past decades through interaction with other disciplines. Whether examining the literary turn in anthropology, literature’s adoption of visual art as an alternative narrative medium or the historian’s increasing dependence on the structure and phrasing of archival documents, what needs to be examined are the terms on which these interactions occur – how do they, or do they not, transform our understanding of these disciplines. In particular, the workshop seeks to address questions of shifting methodologies and objects of study in literary practice.

Invited speakers include Javed Majeed (KCL), Belinda Jack (Oxford), Santanu Das (KCL) and Ugur Ümit Üngör (Utrecht).  

Graduate students and early career researchers are invited to send in paper proposals for the workshop. Possible topics for paper proposals include, but are not restricted to:

• Literary histories through material objects, photographs, administrative records, personal testimony, visual art
• The unarchivable – what constitutes an archive? The nature of unusual archives
• The role of alternative archives in the study of literary remembrance and cultural memory
• The literariness of other disciplines, e.g. The “Writing Culture” moment in anthropology
• Alternative genres: scientific writing, historical fiction, diaries, autobiography and life-writing
• The History of Reading and of the Book
• Literature and Science
• Reading marginalised/forbidden documents, the influence of literary texts on political/historical movements
• Literature as a means of reading history against the grain
• Digital Humanities – questions of archiving and new-age technologies [internet repositories, digitised documents, blogs, etc]

Abstracts/Proposals (approx. 300 words) and a short biographical note (approx. 100 words) should be sent to: by 10 November 2013.

Conference convenors: Ezgi Ulusoy Aranyosi (Oriental Studies, Oxford) and Priyasha Mukhopadhyay (English, Oxford).


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