Break-up: Separations, Estrangements and Disjunctions

Call for Papers 

SHU Humanities Postgraduate Conference 2017

Hosted by SHSU Postgraduate Research Students’ Society – 1st and 2nd June 2017

‘Between three counties far apart that lay

We were divided and looked strangely each

At the other, and we knew we were not friends

But fellows in a union that ends

With the necessity for it, as it ought.’

From “Home”, Edward Thomas, 1916

Separations, partings and the ends of relationships are often more evocative of human experience than unions, combinations and agreements. The things that come to divide, split and bring to an end are often the cause and consequence of very powerful emotional and cultural responses. Division and vehement disagreement have become centrally relevant to contemporary politics and society, foregrounding rifts over issues around immigration, integration, devolution, privilege and power. Many of these disjunctions have become profoundly personal.

This conference seeks to explore the vast array of expressions of separation in history, culture, art and social practice, across personal and collective experiences of severance, divisions and establishments of difference. It will seek to cross-reference disciplinary, thematic and contextual interpretations and examinations by providing a forum for a diverse range of research projects to be compared, and ideas to be exchanged, between postgraduate researchers from a range of disciplinary backgrounds that may be fundamentally different in terms of method and practice but across which the themes to be discussed are relevant.

Indicative themes of interest to the conference may include:

  • Narratives of partings, abandonments, leaving and being left behind
  • Iconographies and imagery of severance, departure, division
  • Geopolitical separations – Shaping and breaking polities, states, empires, alliances
  • Cultural rifts, splits and transformations, subcultures, origins of difference
  • Political institutions – church and state, monarchy and government, nationalisation or privatisation
  • Social difference, division, conflict – contemporary and historical
  • Discourse and interpretation – poetics and hermeneutics of separation
  • Contemporary social, political and economic separations
  • Narratives of reunited or reconciled differences and division

The conference will take place at Sheffield Hallam Students Union on Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd June 2017. There will be no fee for attendees. Information on travel and advice on accommodation will be provided nearer to the time.

We invite proposals for 20 minute papers or posters on any thematically or contextually relevant topic from postgraduate research students and early career researchers within twelve months of completion of their PhD. Proposals for the conference should take the form of a 300 word abstract of the paper, with a separate title and a 100 word biography of the applicant. The conference encourages attendance and participation from the widest range of disciplines and is particularly keen on encouraging debate and collaboration across a broad spectrum of disciplinary boundaries and interests. These may include history, heritage studies, literature, linguistics, philosophy, politics, geography, sociology, tourism, art history, film studies, architecture, anthropology, and academic public engagement.

We also wish to actively encourage proposals from practice based postgraduate students for performance focused presentations. These may include poetry readings, musical performances, drama or comedy, film or any other artistic medium that is able to effectively explore our theme. Practice based applicants may adapt the proposal requirements to the form and medium of their choice.

Applications should be submitted to  by the deadline of 17th March 2017. Decisions on inclusion will be announced by 24th March 2017. Please direct any further inquiries to the above email address. We are also on Twitter so please follow us @shsuprss and keep in touch.


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