This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.
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Elegy: New Approaches
The elegy may be a traditional form of poetry, but it is also one that has evolved and continues to change through time. This one-day conference, with keynote Professor Stephen Regan, will reflect on the current state of research.
About 'Elegy: New Approaches'
Elegy, as Jahan Ramanzani observes, is the ‘mimesis of mourning’. It is the poetic form and distillation of our common response to loss, meeting the need for consolation and renewal in the face of death. It fulfils several cathartic requirements: the expression of grief, anger, and disbelief; the idealisation of what is lost; and the preservation of its memory. Elegy’s catalyst can emerge as the death of a loved one or exemplary figure (often a fellow poet, as in Alfred Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’), the loss of love itself, or the loss of values that have receded from the cultural consciousness.
Traditionally considered as a mode of consolation and reassurance, in modernity these tendencies have sometimes been questioned and rejected. How can the elegy function effectively, for example, in the era of police brutality and Black Lives Matter, or in the aftermath of the recent mass shootings at US high schools? Conversely, can elegy as a genre of response open up new ways of thinking about socio-political issues – can the homoerotics of certain Roman Love Elegies, for instance, help us explore the grief reaction to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s? For this conference, we seek papers that investigate new approaches to the elegy in its many forms, be it the elegies of the Civil Rights Movement, responses to political violence (such as the hauntingly beautiful poems of Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley), elegies of Diaspora, or the prominent elegies in the English tradition. We also welcome papers that consider the elegiac response as something that exceeds the poetic lyric: a diary entry of Woolf’s, for example, deliberates whether ‘elegy’ should supplant ‘novel’ when describing works such as To the Lighthouse, and traditions of ritual mourning such as keening can be approached as intersections of social and literary conventions. Our aim is to foreground these ‘texts’ as elegiac in their own right and to showcase recent research in this area.
This conference is envisioned as a forum for reflection on the current state of research on elegy and on potentially fruitful directions for future exploration.
A provisional programme is now available.
Registration is now open. The conference will be held at St. Chad’s College, Durham on Friday 14 September.
The registration fee is £17, which includes refreshments and lunch. A drinks reception and conference dinner will be held in college following the conference. If you would like to attend the drinks reception there is a further charge of £9, and the cost of the conference dinner is £25. St. Chad’s is offering accommodation for delegates at the cost of £45 per night. To register and book accommodation, please call St. Chad's directly on: 0191 334 3344.
A reservation is being made for an informal dinner at a restaurant close to St. Chad's for the evening preceding the conference. If delegates would like to attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies
We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Find out more on our Events page.
Many of our public lectures, seminars and conferences are recorded, and can be listened to as podcasts.
- 20th January 2021
- Sensory Experiments in Nineteenth-Century Literature
- Online (Zoom)
- Dr Erica Fretwell (University of Albany) and Dr Shannon Draucker (Siena College)