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A one-day interdisciplinary conference at Wolfson College, University of Oxford, 9th November 2012.
This MHRA-sponsored conference is organized jointly by the War and Representation Network (WAR-Net) and the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing.
It is the 5th Biannual WAR-Net meeting.

This one-day, international, inter-disciplinary conference will be a unique symbiosis of the scholarly expertise of the Oxford Centre for Life Writing and WAR-Net, a network for academics working in war representation. Researchers from the fields of literature, theatre, history, art history, graphic arts, film, anthropology, psychology, cultural studies, gender studies, media studies, museum studies, and others will assemble to discuss the ways in which the experience of war (on both home and battle front, and of any period) is represented in the life writing genres. ‘Writing’ will be understood in its broadest sense, to cover not only letters, diaries, memoirs, biography, autobiography and fiction, but also oral testimony, film, portraiture, personal collections and digital media.

POSSIBLE RESEARCH QUESTIONS include (but are not limited to):

• How do the genres of life writing (and/or film) mediate the experience of war?
• How does war impact upon the genres of life writing?
• What is the significance of the emerging digital genres of life writing for war representation (i-journalism, Twitter, social networking sites)?
• What are the relationships between gender and life writings about war?
• How can the phenomenon of missing or silent testimonies be theorised?
• How do representations of war in the life-writing genres challenge or support ‘official’, governmental, or archetypal depictions?

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge and Dr. Michael Hammond.

Lyndsey Stonebridge, a leading scholar in war and trauma, is a professor of Literature and Critical Theory at the University of East Anglia. She is the author of numerous significant publications, including Psychoanalysis and Literature (2004), The Writing of Anxiety: Imagining Wartime in Mid-century British Culture (2007), Trauma Theory (2008), and The Judicial Imagination: Writing After Nuremburg (2011).

Michael Hammond, a leading scholar in war and film, is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Southampton. He is the author of numerous publications on war and cinema, including The Big Show: British Cinema Culture in the Great War (1914-1918) (2006), British Silent Cinema and the Great War (Ed. 2011). He is currently working on a British Academy funded project entitled The After Image of the Great War in Hollywood, 1919-1939.

*It is intended to publish an edited collection of papers from the conference.

The conference is organized by Nancy Martin (University of Oxford) and Kate McLoughlin (Birkbeck, University of London). Please contact us with any questions at [email protected].

For the 5th Biannual meeting, WAR-Net joined forces with the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing to put on a one-day conference on War and Life-Writing at Wolfson College, Oxford. The impetus for the conference was to get life-writing specialists to ask war-writing specialists the questions central to their field, and vice versa. On 9 November 2012, 62 delegates heard 32 papers and the panels included ‘Representing Gendered War’, ‘Ford Madox Ford’s War’, ‘Racial Identity, War and Life-Writing’, ‘War, Life-Writing and Public Spaces’, ‘Forgotten or Neglected Experiences’, ‘Overlooked, Effaced, and Enforced War Narratives’, ‘Blurring Boundaries: Genre and Temporality’, ‘Combatant Myth, Archetype and Hyperbole’ and ‘Representing Contemporary War(s)’. The schedule and abstracts will shortly be available to view on the WAR-Net web-pages.

The conference was opened by Professor Hermione Lee, President of Wolfson and Director of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing. The plenary papers were given by Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge of the University of East Anglia and Dr. Michael Hammond of Southampton University.

Professor Stonebridge spoke on ‘Messengers of Ill-Tidings: Refugee Testimony’, pointing out the obligation imposed on refugees to attest to their suffering in order to receive asylum. Her paper can be heard here:

Dr. Hammond’s talk was on ‘The Celluloid Life of the Great War Veteran in Hollywood 1920-1933’ and gave a number of fascinating examples of displaced traumatisation. His paper can be heard here:

In a new initiative, a poetry reading was given by the Palestinian poet, Yousif Qasmiyeh. His spell-binding reading touched on the everyday details of life in his home camp in Lebanon and his sense of connections with his parents through quotidian activities. ‘Snow’, for example, is a moving piece which details his mother’s reaction to her first trip away from the Middle East. Arriving in Sweden where the temperature was -26o and seeing snow for the first time, her first question was ‘where will the birds perch?’

The conference was organised by Nancy Martin, a doctoral candidate at Linacre College, Oxford. I should like to thank Nancy, Lyndsey Stonebridge, Michael Hammond, Yousif Qasmiyeh, Hermione Lee, the panellists, the chairs and Louise Gordon and her team at Wolfson for an exceptional day.