CFP – Reading the Wall: The Cultural Afterlives of Hadrian’s Wall

Reading the Wall: The Cultural Afterlives of Hadrian’s Wall
Newcastle University, 15-17 June 2016
Keynote Speakers: Professor Richard Hingley (Durham), Dr Lindsay Allason-Jones, OBE (Newcastle), and authors Christian Cameron and Garth Nix

Constructed in the 2nd century AD as a monumental frontier complex of the Roman Empire, Hadrian’s Wall has enjoyed a long and complex existence. This interdisciplinary and cross-period conference will explore the impact of the Wall since its inception and across multiple media.

Occupied by the Roman army as a border from ca. AD 120 until the early 5th century, the Wall has continued to capture the imagination from the 6th century AD. The Byzantine historian Procopius offers this description of the Wall:

Now in this island of Britain the men of ancient times built a long wall, cutting off a large part of it; and the climate and the soil and everything else is not alike on the two sides of it. For to the east of the wall there is a salubrious air, changing with the seasons, being moderately warm in summer and cool in winter. But on the west side everything is the reverse of this, so that it is actually impossible for a man to survive there even a half-hour, but countless snakes and serpents and every other kind of wild creature occupy this area as their own. And, strangest of all, the inhabitants say that if a man crosses the wall and goes to the other side, he dies straightway. They say, then, that the souls of men who die are always conveyed to this place. (History of the Wars)

In recent years, Hadrian’s Wall has served as the inspiration for Walls in literature, as in George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones and has been referenced in the debate surrounding Scottish independence, to say nothing of the importance of the monument for heritage tourism. This conference asks how the Wall has circulated in the cultural imaginary (locally, nationally and globally) over the past 1500 years.

We invite papers that explore the cultural significance and impact of Hadrian’s Wall. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The Wall in Literature (incl. Historical, Science, Romance, Historical Romance and Spy Fictions)
  • Landscape
  • Women and the Wall
  • The Wall in Cyberspace
  • The Power of Names/Myths
  • Transmission
  • Myth-Making and a Sense of Place
  • Visual and Plastic Arts
  • The Wall and Hollywood
  • Classical Reception and Neo-Mediaevalisms
  • Children, Children’s Literature and the Wall
  • Materialities
  • Curated Histories
  • Capturing the Past
  • Soundscapes
  • Maps and Mapping the Wall
  • Object Biographies
  • The Wall and Other Walls

We welcome papers that explore these topics from English and Other Literatures, Film and Television Studies, Archaeology, History, Heritage Studies, Cartography, Fine Art, Music, Folklore, Museology, Digital Humanities, Geography, Politics and Sociology.

Titles and abstracts (200-250 words) should be sent to readingthewall@newcastle.ac.uk. Panel proposals (for three-paper panels) should include a title for the panel’s programme. Abstract deadline: 21 March 2016.

For more details, see the conference website: http://conferences.ncl.ac.uk/readingthewall/conferenceinformation/

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