Irreconcilable differences? Peace and Conflict in Irish Literature, Culture, and Politics. 10th Biennial Conference of the Nordic Irish Studies Network (Kristiansand, Norway, 3-4 May 2018)
Irish Studies is a contested field. Much of this can be construed as a healthy sign of differences of opinion or approach, but dissension can also be the source of weakening fragmentation and waste. This conference wishes to address notions of peace and conflict in a constructive manner, in a way that crosses the disciplines of Irish Studies.
When is compromise or unity possible, and when do differences appear to be irreconcilable? This conference wants to explore these questions broadly, engaging Irish literature, culture, and politics. One line of inquiry will be coloured by the various anniversaries occurring in 2018, for instance of the 1998 Belfast Agreement and the cessation of World War I. Do such conflicts find a real resolution, or must rather their aftermath be understood to be contentious and problematic affairs? Comparative accounts of different political conflicts will also be of interest.
Culturally, there is much potential for conflict in terms of for instance gender, class, race, and religion. The issue of abortion is also controversial, as reflected both in previous referenda on the Eighth Amendment of the Irish constitution as well as the one coming up in 2018. Both in a contemporary and a historical perspective, Ireland has been characterized by both overt and more implicit tensions and conflicts within its population. Power struggles, resistance, and marginalization are – as in most body politics – part and parcel of the Irish context. At the same time, this is also a history that includes cultural narratives of dialogue and reconciliation. We welcome papers that address power struggles past and present, in both widely encompassing and more detailed interpretations.
Formally, works of art are frequently cast as sites of conflict, where the parts can to varying degrees be subjected to the controlling forces of artistic intent or contextual pressure. Coventry Patmore’s adage “The end of art is peace” has been appropriated by both W. B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney. But this formula is ambiguous, and harmonizing views of the arts are not without opponents: at least since Romanticism notions of fragmentation and tension have frequently been embraced as aesthetic ideals. We invite papers both on literature and on other arts that deal with such formal issues, exploring both internal and external sources of peace and tension.
The mentioned strands may well be linked together in individual papers. There is, for instance, a novelistic tradition of exploring periods of political tension and stress through domestic or marital friction. Furthermore, the adjudication of dividing lines between the political, cultural, and aesthetic spheres has itself been subject to controversy in Ireland. As NISN’s conferences are meant to embrace a wide field of concerns related to Irish matters, also papers not directly relating to the conference topic may be admitted if they are of sufficient quality.
Abstracts and queries must be submitted by December 15, 2017, to the following email address: Charles.Armstrong@uia.no