Portraying the Past: Genre, Identity, and Artistic Engagement with history

In The Political Unconscious: Narrative as Socially Symbolic Act, Fredric Jameson likens genre to that of a contractual arrangement between producer (writer, filmmaker, historian), text, and consumer (reader or audience). Jameson’s commentary considers texts – whether literary or historical – to be transactional structures, defined within the parameters of capital and consumption. Using such current debates, the aim of this one-day event at the University of Sheffield is to create an interdisciplinary dialogue that will interrogate the relationship between textual form, genre paradigms and recreations of the past. It will ask: how do generic or formal categorisations, the ‘contractual’ prescriptions on artistic production, disturb and challenge or provoke and reinforce certain treatments of the past? How does conformity to convention, a perceived ‘proper use’ of the cultural artefact and its historical subject, inform considerations of value, artistic tradition, and historical fidelity?

Beyond its focus on the advancement of academic debate into historical narratives and artistic adaptation, this conference is designed to encourage collaboration and post-graduate researcher development. As part of our interdisciplinary remit, we have already confirmed papers and interest from WRoCAH scholars in History, Biblical Studies, English, Film, and video games. Built into the day will be activities specifically targeted at researcher development. Our keynote, Andrew Elliott (University of Lincoln) will discuss the challenges of interdisciplinary research and translating such work into public engagement. Then, Prof. Steve Farrall will present a short film, the culmination of an interdisciplinary project funded by the AHRC and ESRC, and screened at the world-renowned Sheffield Doc Fest. He will impart his advice on how to approach major funding bodies for collaborative projects, as well as getting work commissioned at big public engagement events.


£ 1360

Lead Student

Daniel Clarke, Sheffield

Other student organisers

WRoCAH White Rose Network: European Film and European Heritage Michael Samuel, Leeds Martina Lovascio, York