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10 juin 2016, St Andrews : Dialogues of Power : Political (Re)presentations in the Arts

Until well into the eighteenth century, the arts and politics were often intimately intertwined through networks of patronage. Religious and political authorities commissioned works of art that were designed to promote or implement their policies. In our own times, patronage has given way to a wide variety of production modes, thanks to which the arts operate on a more autonomous footing vis-à-vis the realm of politics. This leaves one wondering, however, to what extent the arts in the twenty-first century can or should relate to issues of political interest. On the one hand, there is a deep pessimism about the political significance of the arts in society. As is well known, governments and education systems frequently cut art-related subjects from their budget. On the other hand, this pessimism urges artists to think about the political effects and underpinnings of their work in novel and creative ways. Community and verbatim theatre, life writing and experimental forms of documentary film serve as a case in point.

This conference takes its cue from the recent debate on the role of the arts in society by exploring the multifaceted relationships or dialogues between the arts and politics. It asks : What is the political potential of the arts to (re)present emerging dialogues in an ever-increasing globalized society ? How do artists use their work to convey or capture political messages and/or tensions in society ? What kind of artistic techniques do they employ in doing so ? How have relationships between the arts and politics changed or shifted over time ? What do we mean by "politically engaged" art ? How are the links between the arts and politics conceptualized in current debates about the role of the arts in society ? 

We especially welcome papers from PhD students and early-career researchers across the arts and humanities from the medieval period until today. Abstracts are invited for 20-minute papers about individual artists and artworks, as well as theoretical reflections on the relationship between the arts and politics. Topics include but are not limited to :

Cultural hybridity
Artistic resistance
Postcolonial literature
Life writing
Documentary film/theatre
Court spectacle/festival culture
Cultural patronage
Social networks
Visual arts
Oral literatures
Authority and authorship

Please send your abstract (max. 300 words) and a biography (max. 200 words) to dialoguespower chez by 10 June 2016. Your participation will be confirmed on 30 June. Registration for the conference is £20 and includes lunch, tea and coffee on both days.