Call for Papers

Call for Papers for the First Interdisciplinary Historical Fictions Research Network Conference

Keynote Speaker:

Professor Ansgar Nünning of Universitat Giessen (Literature & American Studies).


Dr. Debbie Challis, Public Programmer, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UC

At: Anglia Ruskin University. Cambridge.

Date: 27th and 28th February 2016
Conference fee: £180; concession £140 (graduate students; or on proof of income below £10k). NB: these prices include meals.
Accommodation: tbc


This is a key moment for the study of historical fictions: there is a rising critical recognition of the texts and the convergence of lines of theory in the philosophy of history, narratology, popular literature, historical narratives of national and cultural identity, and cross-disciplinary approaches to narrative constructions of the past.

Narrative constructions of the past constitute a powerful discursive system for the production of cognitive and ideological representations of identity, agency, and social function, and for the negotiation of conceptual relationships and charged tensions between the complexity of societies in time and the teleology of lived experience. The licences of fiction, especially in mass culture, define a space of thought in which the pursuit of narrative forms of meaning is permitted to slip the chains of sanctioned historical truths to explore the deep desires and dreams that lie beneath all constructions of the past. Historical fictions measure the gap between the pasts we are permitted to know and those we wish to know: the interaction of the meaning-making narrative drive with the narrative-resistant nature of the past.

Historical fictions can be understood as an expanded mode of historiography. Scholars in literary, visual, historical and museum/re-creation studies have long been interested in the construction of the fictive past, understanding it as a locus for ideological expression.

We welcome paper proposals from Literature, Media, Art History, Musicology, Reception Studies, Museum Studies, Recreation and others. We welcome paper proposals across historical periods, with ambitious, high-quality, inter-disciplinary approaches and new methodologies that will support research into larger trends and which will lead to more theoretically informed understandings of the mode across historical periods, cultures and languages.

We aim to create a disciplinary core, where researchers can engage in issues of philosophy and methodology and generate a collective discourse around historical fictions in a range of media and across period specialities.

Paper proposals consisting of a title and abstract of no more than 250 words should be submitted to:


By September 1st 2015

Twitter: @HistoricalFic

3 replies on “Call for Papers”

Here’s a historical question for you – what stage of a sickening tumble into social inequality do you have to have reached in order to consider a hundred and forty pounds a concessionary rate for anything? You might as well have ‘tenured only’ at the top of the page – if you are on less than 10K a year, that’s the best part of a week’s wages.

What it reflects is that we didn’t get the grant we hoped for. £140 is the current break even price. If we can get grants (which we are applying for) we will be offering subsidies. It also reflects the issue that most academics can apply for funding from their universities.

The “proof” issue is actually so we don’t have to restrict that price to students. As a conference organiser I was once placed under a great deal of pressure to give a discount to retired academics and had to point out that their pensions were rather larger than the earnings of many junior colleagues.

Please note the price includes lunches. I will make sure that this is added to the information.

Thankyou for replying – and I’m sorry if my original post was ill-tempered – but that doesn’t answer my point. That tenured academics paying the full £180 have some chance of claiming it back will be scant consolation to the graduate students and those outside academia who certainly can’t apply for funding (well, they can apply, I suppose, but they won’t get it). So the pricing is going to exclude all those who are neither tenured academics nor independently wealthy postgraduates. Which is unfortunate, because not all postgraduates are independently wealthy (though more are than used to be the case, sadly) and not all academics get to work full-time in HE (ditto).

My point about ‘proof’ was that this does seem – unintentionally, I’m sure – a little demeaning, since it’s hard to know of what such proof could consist. Benefit slips? Holes in your shoes? Might the process not be a little embarrassing for the person concerned? For someone in that position, as I say, £140 represents the best part of a week’s wages. Or, if you prefer, it’s equivalent to around £600 out of a starting lecturer’s salary, or around a grand out of a senior lecturer’s or a reader’s. Follow through the logic of that scaling and a concessionary rate should be nearer £30. Though only if you’re willing to charge Professor X a grand, I admit. But since he or she will be claiming it back anyway . . .

I do appreciate the difficulty, really I do, but it just seems strange that an academic conference, which should be about open debate, should be charging those on such low wages more than, say, Arsenal FC or the Royal Opera House. As for lunch . . . is there a discount if people bring their own sandwiches?

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