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Literature Matters: Call for Papers

Monday, November 4, 2024 - 10:00 to Wednesday, November 6, 2024 - 20:00
Online, via MS Teams
Spiral of books, illustration
Credit: Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica

This FREE 3-day online international conference, Literature Matters, encourages participants to interrogate the importance (or not) of literature and writing in the 21st century in any of the following ways:

  • How does literature enable creative conversations vital to culture and society: with the past, in the present, and for the future?
  • How does reading and writing literature help us understand the past for the future?
  • How does literature generate cultural ownership, belonging and social cohesion through collective reading, book clubs and creative writing groups?
  • What are the ways in which reading and writing make material cultural and heritage?
  • How does reading and writing literature generate empathy and greater understanding?
  • How does literature support personal wellbeing through participatory engagement with (from creative writing to private reading to dramatic performance)?
  • What are the ways in which literature creates space for reflection in a visually saturated and digitally overwhelmed environment?
  • ‘The joys of reading, listening and writing’: what aesthetic pleasure do we derive through reading, listening, writing and reflecting on literary works?
  • The uses and abuses of literature: how is literature used positively for activism, advocacy, and change making? How is it used negatively for propaganda, hate-speech and misinformation?
  • What opportunities and challenges does Artificial Intelligence (AI) bring? How might AI assist or threaten future human interaction with reading and writing imaginative literature?

How to be involved

We welcome proposals from all historical periods and from a range of disciplinary perspectives, but the main focus will need to be on imaginative literature in the broadest sense. We welcome individual paper presentations or round table discussions in any of the following formats:

  • Individual paper (20 minutes speaking time/2500 words);
  • Individual lightning talk (7 minutes speaking time/1000 words);
  • Round table panel, up to 5 participants (40 minutes speaking time in total).
  • Creative writing responses or creative/critical responses to conference themes (20 minutes speaking time/2500 words)

If you would like to propose an individual paper or panel to present at the conference, please submit a 300-word abstract and a brief biography (50 words) to the lead conference organiser Shafquat Towheed by 26 July 2024. We welcome proposals from individuals at all stages of their academic careers, including graduate students. We will aim to inform you of the outcome of your proposal submission in early September. The conference will be FREE to attend, but registration in advance will be required.

Download the call for papers info sheet

About the conference

Books are Weapons in the War of Ideas': 1942 US World War II Anti-German poster showing Nazis burning books and quoting F D Roosevelt, 'Books cannot be killed by fire'. American Propaganda.
Books are Weapons in the War of Ideas':
Credit: Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016

This conference is organised by colleagues in the Department of English and Creative Writing (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) together with colleagues in Languages and Applied Linguistics (Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies) at The Open University. The conference is funded by OpenARC, The Open University’s Arts Research Centre in the School of Arts and Humanities.

Conference Lead Organiser: Shafquat Towheed

Programme Committee members: Francesca Benatti; Delia da Sousa Correa; Edmund King; Jonathan Gibson; Sara Haslam; Peg Katritzky; Joanne Reardon; Philip Seargeant; Jennifer Shepherd; Emma Sweeney; Alex Tickell; Nicola Watson; Molly Ziegler.

For more information, visit the conference website.

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