CFP: Dialogues of Power: Political (Re)presentations in the Arts

Dear colleagues,

We are inviting abstracts for a two-day conference entitled Dialogues of Power: Political (Re)presentations in the Arts to be held at the University of St Andrews on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 October 2016.

Please find the call below and feel free to circulate it among other colleagues who may be interested in participating.

All best wishes,

The organising committee, Isabelle Gribomont, Tiran Manucharyan, Bram van Leuveren

Call for Conference Papers

Dialogues of Power: Political (Re)presentations in the Arts

28-29 October 2016

University of St Andrews


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 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.