The Heraldic Imagination

Emblems and Enigma: The Heraldic Imagination

An Interdisciplinary Symposium to be held at the Society of Antiquaries of London on Saturday 26th April 2014

In his 1844 short story ‘Earth’s Holocaust’, Nathaniel Hawthorne sees heraldic signs reaching ‘like lines of light’ into the past, but also as encrypted and obsolete. Proliferating and arcane, unique, ubiquitous, and inscrutable, the heraldic has been a major presence across the arts since medieval times; yet it remains, culturally and critically, enigmatic.

The organisers of this interdisciplinary symposium, Professor Fiona Robertson (English Literature, St Mary’s University College) and Dr Peter Lindfield (History of Art, University of St Andrews), invite proposals for twenty-minute papers on any aspect of the employment and perception of the heraldic in literature, history, art, architecture, design, fashion, and contemporary and historical practice.

The symposium will take place from 9.30 to 5 at the Society of Antiquaries of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. The programme will include a keynote address by Professor Vaughan Hart (University of Bath); a special session on the heraldry of Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill and William Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey; and papers on eighteenth-century antiquaries’ exploration of the heraldic, and on heraldry in nineteenth-century British and American literature.

Topics may include, but are not restricted to:

            - the languages and grammar of heraldry

            - armoiries parlantes, allusions and puns

            - imaginary and fantastical heraldry

            - decoration and display

            - blazonry and identity: nations, groups, individuals

            - mock- and sham-heraldics; parody and subversion

            - practices of memory and memorialisation

            - history, development, and modern practice

            - blazon and the body

            - heraldic revivalism; medievalism; romance

            - enigma, error, and absence: the bar sinister and the blank shield

            - individual designers, writers, and collectors

            - gendered identity

            - hierarchies of signs

            - international and interdisciplinary perspectives 

Proposals of 200 words should be sent to the organisers at by 10 January 2014.

Fiona Robertson and Peter Lindfield plan to edit a collection of essays arising from the symposium.

Further information will be available on the symposium website,

Tales After Tolkien: Medievalism and Genre in the Twenty-First Century

Contributions are sought for an edited collection titled Tales After Tolkien: Medievalism and Genre in the Twenty-First Century. The collection explores the ways popular genres engage with the history and literature of the Middle Ages, and with the very idea of ‘the medieval.’ What are the intersections of medievalism and genre in modern popular culture?

The questions chapters might ask include, but are not limited to: how genre conventions shape the use of medieval material and vice versa? In what ways do contemporary social, cultural and political issues intersect with the medieval in popular genres? How do authors approach the Middle Ages and medieval material? What is the role of audience expectations and beliefs? Is historical authenticity important, to whom does it matter, and how is it defined?

Chapters may focus on any popular genre, but contributions exploring romance, horror, mystery, and historical, westerns, cross-genre works or comparing genres are especially welcome. They may focus on works in any medium, e.g. fiction, film, television, graphic novels, and games, or consider multi- or transmedia medievalisms.  Chapters exploring fan communities, audiences, and adaptations are also welcome. They should focus on works first published in the twenty-first century, although series which began before that date could also be considered, as could comparisons of recent works with earlier publications.

Chapters will be 6,000 to 7,000 words, including all footnotes, references etc, with first drafts due 1st June 2014, and final versions on 1st October 2014. The volume will be offered to Cambria Press, which has expressed interest in seeing the manuscript proposal.

In the first instance, an abstract of approximately 300 words along with a brief CV should be sent to by 8th January, 2014. Any queries may be directed to the same address.

GWACS Artist Conversation on: “Art Riot”

You are warmly invited to a GWACS Artist Conversation on: “Art Riot”

Wednesday 13 November 2013, 6 pm – 8 pm, Room 352
University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW

As part of his research on the communities of power, including the Church and the Politburo, Riello’s artistic practice comments upon the issue of national residency as a site for the power of the State. For instance, a blown glass containing a Residence Permit shows that the State (in this case, the Italian Republic), understood as “a juridical entity that has sovereignty over a definite territory”, has the authority to grant or refuse the permit to enter the country. This could be seen as a very topical comment on war refugees fleeing Syria in search of a safer life.

Thus in an attempt to rouse us from the deep-seated indifference that keeps us from realising what is happening to people who need our help, Riello’s artistic practice uses a cruel-and-playful approach. This creative attitude is examplified by Italiani brava gente, an artwork in the form of a videogame where the player has to sink the boats of refugees approaching the southern Italian coasts, thus echoing the reality of the role of the sea-coast armament in the region, and its effects on human lives. One must read PerGraziaRicevuta, the rocket missile painted with the stories of Saint-Anthony, and KT WE, the military aircraft where Western and Eastern winged putti fight each other, in much the same way.

Riello’s new project, “Collateral Damage” (CD), deals with the rampage of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or so-called “drone” attacks and their typically random, thus insidious, process and effects. These are common military tools, as they are considered to be effective and relatively inexpensive. Many military decisions are outsourced to computers and cameras, and are based on algorithms developed to detect “patterns of dangerous behaviour.”

Following the seminal research on the aesthetics of war undertaken by such figures as Paul Virolio, Guy Debord and Jacques Derrida, Riello argues, it seems urgent and vital that contemporary art, as a form of radical visual thinking, should deal with this new situation. “A sign of public defiance against the illegal use of these improper weapons should simply be our cultural duty.”

CD is a low-budget, urban public art project based on a series of outdoor installations and a campaign of visual information and protest. It takes the form of a logo of a giant bull’s-eye to be for instance stenciled on a large scale in open spaces close to social institutions or people in danger.

Antonio Riello is an eclectic artist with various interests, but he works especially with sculpture, installations, photo-montage, and digital art. He delivers courses on “Videogames Phenomenology” at several Universities. He has exhibited works and installations in art institutions and art galleries internationally

Intimacy, Power and Authority in European Perspectives

Saint_GeorgeIntimacy, Power and Authority in European Perspectives
RHS symposium
Friday 18 October, Bath Spa University, Corsham Court campus
Keynote speaker: Dr Joanne Bailey, Oxford Brookes University
‘English Manly Intimacy and Power in Representations of St George and the Dragon c. 1750-1950’
This symposium will approach the concept of intimacy and closeness from a range of neglected perspectives, addressing several fundamental themes in European history. Current strands in the history of emotions dwell on singular feelings, their production, and the influence of pathological and medical discourse on their expression. Few historians have sought meaning in the theoretical advances of Lauren Berlant and Kosofsky Sedgwick, whose work has profound implications for the way in which social and political relations are understood. The symposium will approach intimacy variously through sessions that explore the following themes: political cultures, (official, popular and subaltern); legal norms; ethnic and religious difference; and desire.  The relation between interior and public modes of intimacy will be explored, through consideration of the ‘advent of intimacy as a public mode of identification and self-development’ (Berlant). A second key theme will be the concept of ‘intimate publics’ in pre-modern and modern Europe. In a similar vein, the seminal work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has offered new perspectives on the way in which intimacy operates in tandem with looking, sexuality and bodily contact.

Invited contributors will present on: gendered intimacy and personal authority in nineteenth-century England; the subversion of political intimacies in early modern intelligence networks; and the influence of medieval ecclesiasts on the policing of intimacy in local communities; the politics of sympathy; intimacy and power in early medieval Europe.

For the full programme, and registration form, see:

Conference attendance:
Attendance is free, as the event is sponsored by the Royal Historical Society and Bath Spa University.
Registration (for catering purposes and room size):
Please register for a place by completing the registration form and emailing it to: by Friday 11th October.

Melancholy – Pain (9-11 July, 2013)

3rd Conf.Our 2013 Embodiments international conference explores the themes of melancholy and pain, reading through different types of narratives on emotional and physical pain in dialogue with cross-disciplinary studies of melancholia in Europe and throughout the wider world. The event concerns itself with the melancholy-pain gap across geographies, genealogies, and time, conceptual portrayals of pain and melancholy in the media, varieties of genres and approaches, as well as cross-genre and cross-cultural communications of these terms and concepts. Last year, our Arts-Science conference Paranoia and Pain saw magnificent presentations from around the world. Building on the success of that inaugural event in Embodiments Research Group, we are working through journal and book chapters to be published during 2013-14.

We welcome delegates to the University of Liverpool Campus and wish everyone a very delightful time in our beautiful city. Whether you are registered and attending the conference or not, you can follow us and share ideas on tweeter @Embodiments. Dr Erik Grayson @egveitikkje is live-tweeting the event during these three days. Extended questions, comments, and discussions must be directed to

You can find more about the schedule and panels in the conference booklet, following this link:


William_Cowper_by_Lemuel_Francis_AbbottTHE NIGHTINGALE AND GLOW-WORM

By William Cowper (1731-1800), Written Feb., 1780.  Published 1782.

A Nightingale, that all day long
Hath cheer’d the village with his song,
Nor yet at eve his note suspended,
Nor yet when eventide was ended,
Began to feel, as well he might,
The keen demands of appetite;
When, looking eagerly around,
He spied far off, upon the ground,
A something shining in the dark,
And knew the glow-worm by his spark;
So, stooping down from hawthorn top,
He thought to put him in his crop.
The worm, aware of his intent,
Harangu’d him thus, right eloquent—

Did you admire my lamp, quoth he,
As much as I your minstrelsy,
You would abhor to do me wrong,
As much as I to spoil your song;
For ’twas the self-same pow’r divine
Taught you to sing, and me to shine;
That you with music, I with light,
Might beautify and cheer the night.
The songster heard his short oration,
And, warbling out his approbation,
Releas’d him, as my story tells,
And found a supper somewhere else.
Hence jarring sectaries may learn
Their real int’rest to discern;
That brother should not war with brother,
And worry and devour each other;
But sing and shine by sweet consent,
Till life’s poor transient night is spent,
Respecting in each other’s case
The gifts of nature and of grace.
Those Christians best deserve the name,
Who studiously make peace their aim;
Peace, both the duty and the prize
Of him that creeps and him that flies.

The Legacy of the Grand Tour

Portrait of Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton, on his Grand Tour with his physician Dr John Moore and the latter's son John. A view of Geneva is in the distance where they stayed for two years. Painted by Jean Preudhomme in 1774.

Portrait of Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton, on his Grand Tour with his physician Dr John Moore and the latter’s son John. A view of Geneva is in the distance where they stayed for two years. Painted by Jean Preudhomme in 1774.

Submissions are sought for an edited collection, tentatively entitled The Legacy of the Grand Tour: New Essays on Travel, Literature, and Culture. It has been claimed that there are really only three basic plots in all of literature, boy meets girl (or variations thereof), a stranger comes to town, and someone goes on journey. The topos of the journey is one of the oldest in literature, and even in this age of packaged tours and mediated experience, it still remains one of the most compelling. This volume seeks to examine the ways in which the legacy of the Grand Tour is still evident in works of travel and literature. From its aristocratic origins and the permutations of sentimental and romantic travel to the age of tourism and globalization, the Grand Tour still influences the destinations tourists choose and shapes the ideas of culture and sophistication that surround the act of travel. Essays examining a wide variety literature, travel literature, memoir, and culture are welcome, though the editor is particularly interested in the ways travel and ideas of “culture” overlap in destinations historically associated with the Grand Tour. Please send abstracts of about 300 words and CVs, as well as inquires, by August 1, 2013 to Lisa Colletta, The American University of Rome ( If requested, full articles will be due by January 15, 2014.

Teaching Hemingway and Race

Teaching Hemingway and Race (Kent State UP essay collection; deadline for abstracts is August 15, 2013; accepted essays due September 30, 2013)
EH 2723PThe goal of the Teaching Hemingway series is to present collections of essays with various approaches to teaching emergent themes in Hemingway’s major works to a variety of students in secondary and private schools and at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Teacher-scholars who have used Hemingway’s work in domestic, international, HBCU, MA/PhD, MFA, and many other settings can apply.
The editors invite interested scholars to contribute to what will be an unquestionably stimulating, innovative collection, Teaching Hemingway and Race. A goal of this volume is to reconsider the author’s work in view of recent theoretical-critical developments, such as Critical Race Theory, transnational studies, and emergent approaches that inquire into the textual intersections between multiple cultural positions, and then present a practical, concise pedagogical approach to a specific topic. The ideal length of a contribution is between 10 and 15 pages. All accepted essays should balance theory/interpretation and concrete classroom practices. We foresee including writing prompts, syllabi, handouts, critical readings, and models for digital pedagogy (e.g., Web resources and Wiki writing).
With respect to thematic considerations, the editors seek to explore Hemingway’s disposition with regard to race (which for the purposes of this volume will include ethnic, tribal, and national locations and their interstices) as well as the place of race in Hemingway studies.
Contributors may consider Hemingway’s representations of Native American/indigenous, African American and/or African, Asian American and/or Asian, Latino and/or Latin American, and/or ethnic European (e.g., Roma/Gypsy, Basque) characters and peoples, in view of current readings of race and difference. In other words, what complex roles do Hemingway’s raced figures play in his fiction and journalism? Indeed, what role might they play in delineating his influential literary style or other aspects of his literary productivity?
Another potentially interesting topic may be a topic not concerned solely with Hemingway’s portrayals of a single minority group, but one that considers his depictions of two or more cultures or cultural nationalities.
Or the contributor might wish to consider Hemingway’s writing vis-à-vis work by black, indigenous, immigrant, and/or ethnic authors beyond the United States.
Such authors as Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, Derek Walcott, and Gayl Jones have praised and cited Hemingway’s writing as a determining stimulus. How may Hemingway’s representations of ethnic minorities be understood vis-à-vis writers who are known for work that is intensely motivated toward examining political and social complexities for ethnic peoples?
How might Hemingway’s “lost generation” figure within or in contrast with the Harlem Renaissance/New Negro movement? How might his writings about raced characters and peoples figure into his particular view of modernist prose? How might it be seen in terms of Pan-Africanism, Garvey’s Back to Africa movement, and the rise of black transnationalism, black modernism and postmodernism?
How might Hemingway’s work be read in terms of historical trajectories affecting racial, ethnic, tribal, or immigrant peoples: the Great Migration, the Pan-Indian movement, etc.?
Considering his portrayals of indigenous peoples, how might Hemingway’s writing be understood with reference to Native American authors like Louise Erdrich and James Welch? How might his writings be read in relation to Latino authors like José Martí, Julia Alvarez, Oscar Hijuelos, and Junot Díaz?
If not already familiar with current criticism on the subject of Hemingway and questions of race, potential contributors should survey recent research related to this topic, such as work by Amy L. Strong, Marc K. Dudley, Richard Fantina, and the critical collection Hemingway and the Black Renaissance (Ohio State UP, 2012).
The editors welcome proposals from both established and emerging teacher-scholars. We are also interested in how teacher-scholars have adapted their ways of teaching Hemingway in a racially focused context due to pedagogical, critical, and personal developments.
Proposals of no more than 750 words and an abbreviated CV that indicates research and scholarly activity should be sent to the volume editor, Gary Holcomb, Department of African American Studies, Ohio University ( and c.c. series editor Mark Ott ( ) by August 15, 2013, to ensure fullest consideration in the volume. Accepted authors should plan to deliver completed manuscripts (2,500-4,000 words) by September 30, 2013.

Postpartum: Motherhood, Maternity, and Pregnancy as Performance

Firmin_Baes_-_Doux_rêvesMotherhood and childbirth have been constructed as symbols of faith, sites of suspicion, protectors of social morality, and the wages of original sin. Mother Earth, the Virgin Mother, and evil stepmothers are just some of the pillars society has fashioned around the concept of motherhood. Motherhood has been gendered female to the extent that motherhood and womanhood are often seen to be mutually completing, with pregnancy serving as a visual marker of the liminal space that turns woman into mother. In contrast, male actors have frequently embodied theatrical performances of motherhood, and the performativity of motherhood and pregnancy have been explored in, for example, the entremés Juan Rana Mujer, in which Juan is tricked into believing he is a woman and begins to fear labor pains. In today’s world of technology, disembodied performances of motherhood and pregnancy create slipperiness between the predestined gendered performances, opening both to new, transgressive iterations.

While maternal performances form an integral part of social discourse, and often an explicit part of theatrical performance, they are rarely subject to scholarly study. Despite an ongoing scholarly interest in performances of gender, sexuality, and embodiment, maternity has largely slipped from focus in the last decades. In the interest of examining these performances as constructed and constructing identity in theatrical and social performances, participants in this session will re-focus on the performance of motherhood and maternity and its role in historical and contemporary life. In the spirit of the post-thematic conference, we will seek papers that approach this topic from a variety of disciplines, cultures, and eras, allowing us to form connections from within the paper group instead of imposing structure from without. We are particularly interested in how maternity and pregnancy conflict with fictional or virtual characters, performance traditions, and cross-gendered portrayals in historical and global performance.

Conveners: Chelsea Phillips, Ohio State University, Alicia Beth Corts, University of Georgia, and Judith Griselda Caballero, Millsaps College.

Please submit a 250-word proposal, and a two-page CV to by June 3, 2013.

Participants will be notified by June 15 and placed into small groups. Papers will be due by September 1, 2013. Group members will be asked to stay in contact with their small groups throughout the paper-writing process. Once full papers are submitted, participants will collaborate on the creation of the performance art piece component (see description below).

Performance Piece:
In creating a site for the exploration of motherhood and maternity as performative, we propose a session that “thinks big” beyond the bounds of the conference room and scheduled working session time. Prior to our scheduled working session, we will engage with conference attendees through a performance piece (“The Mother Code”) exploring archetypes of maternity. This performance piece aims to make the invisible visible, though the exact format will be decided amongst session participants.