Call for Papers – Deadline 31st July 2021

Spectral Landscapes:  Absence, Trauma and Nationhood

 4th-5th November 2021, University of Reading

places belong to our bodies and our bodies belong to these places. We learn how to orientate and re-orientate ourselves in relation to them and form internalized representations of them (cognitive maps) which play a powerful role in how we perceive them, and which in turn become articulated through a somatic nexus. So what is in front of me, and behind me, above and below me, to the right and to the left, extends through my lived body”

(Tilley 2004:26).

We invite abstracts for this two-day interdisciplinary conference that engages with the ways in which ideas of absence, nationhood, identity, trauma, and haunted landscapes intersect in the work of Beckett and other writers, artists and theatre-makers.

At a time of great socio-political transition, we believe there is an urgent need to ask how political transition and change can challenge our ideas about nation and address the evolving role of writers and artists who are intervening in debates about how our identity is linked to landscape.

The notion of the “spectre” is imbued with return – that which is passed but unprocessed – and indeed the landscapes portrayed in Beckett’s work, both spatial and immaterial, are often haunted by absence and melancholy, evocative of a fragmented human subject. We are interested in asking how traumatic/fracturing experiences of the collective or ‘nation’ can be marked in the body of the human subject, the body of the land/nation and their interrelation. How do these events haunt and return to the land and how are they held and embodied by the subject?

We are keen to explore the ways in which Beckett’s work has been approached dynamically and innovatively by a variety of practitioners, to ensure that his writing continues to be not only relevant but a useful and necessary part of the conversations about the way we live now. We want this conference to be an open, engaging and welcoming space for a wide spectrum of ideas, approaches and disciplines and to encourage fresh voices and perspectives.

Finally, we hope to excavate fresh discussions of Beckett’s work by shifting the focus from the text and characters to the spaces which the Beckettian body inhabits. If we consider Tilley’s notion that bodies are inextricably tied to the landscape in which they live, then how do these spaces become phenomenologised when they are implicated in performance and what do they have to say when they are given a voice?

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Spectrality/ghosts/haunting
  • Land/stones/landscapes/psychogeography
  • The body and embodiment
  • Nation/identity/borders
  • Trauma and memory
  • Absence/separation/home
  • Socio-political fractures
  • Objects/materiality
  • Ecology/environment/biospheres
  • Covid-19 and the post-covid landscape

Please note that we are keen to include interdisciplinary submissions of non- conventional papers alongside the more traditional academic papers and in this spirit we welcome abstracts from those who wish to present artistic/ performative or film based work but ask that you make it clear in what form your presentation will take.

We are also very keen to nurture and foster new voices and those in the earlier stages of their research and therefore invite those who may not be ready to present a paper but would like a space to discuss their research with other researchers and academics to join us for the PGR forum, see further details below.


If you would like to submit an abstract please include the following:

– Between 300-350 words outlining your submission.

– A short bio of 200 words.

– Please indicate within your abstract what form your presentation will take and please note that academic papers will be allocated up to 20 mins and non-traditional presentations up to 30 mins – for the latter please give us an indication of the length of your proposed piece.

-For non-traditional papers please state any technical requirements but please bear in mind that these should be kept as simple as possible in order to facilitate the smooth running of the conference.

– Please state your preference for attending in person or online. We are aiming for the conference to be in-person for the most part, but we want to accommodate those that may not be able to travel etc. All attendees will be kept fully informed of any changes in the conference format should Covid restrictions shift again in the Autumn.

PGR Forum

Finally, if you feel that would benefit from a relaxed space in which to discuss your emerging ideas and research and would like to participate in the PGR forum on the second day of the conference then please submit a 300-350 word summary of your research and what you would like to discuss and indicate that you would like to take part in the PGR discussion group.

Please send submissions to Zoë and Ros at

by 31st July 2021.

We look forward to receiving your submissions and welcoming you to the conference in due course! Until then, stay safe and well.

Rosaleen Maprayil and Zoë Tweed, University of Reading.

Posted by:feargalw

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