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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Consent: Histories, Representations, and Frameworks for the Future

5th August 2019, 09:00 to 6th August 2019, 17:00, Josephine Butler College

A two-day conference that seeks to bring together academics, experts, and activists from across the UK and around the world who work on and campaign for issues and ideas surrounding consent.

‘[S]aying no when no feels right is something to be proud of.’
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
‘Our claim […] is a claim for the rights of all.’
– Josephine Butler
‘Consent is a downward motion, I think – a leap or a fall – and whether they’ll admit it or not, even the most decisive people can find themselves unable to tell whether or not their consent was freely given. That inability to discover whether you jumped or were pushed brings about a deadened gaze and a downfall all its own.’
– Helen Oyeyemi

Keynote speakers

Dr Maryam Mirza (Durham University) and Dr Victoria Bates (Bristol University)

About this Conference

Consent affects people of all genders, sexual orientations, and nationalities. Responding to recent campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, as well as the work of the 1752 Group, this timely two-day conference will bring together researchers working on consent from a range of different historical, geographical, and disciplinary perspectives. We seek participants who address the representation of consent in literature, history, law, and society, from any time period and in any geographical region. Participants investigating historical views of consent are encouraged, where appropriate, to make connections with the present day. We especially invite papers with an intersectional and international approach, which give voice to those who have hitherto been doubly overlooked and silenced.

The conference will consist of some traditional panels of papers and two keynote lectures, along with creative contributions, discussion groups, and a film screening. These alternative formats will facilitate active engagement and conversations, opening up positive dialogues for the future.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Literary representations of consent
  • Historical and ongoing debates about consent
  • Consent within the law
  • Depiction of consent in film, television, drama, visual arts, music, radio, media, the internet etc.
  • Teaching consent
  • Consent within the university environment and academia
  • Consent within professional environments, such as the workplace
  • Consent within social contexts (e.g. parties)
  • Consent in public places (e.g. on public transport and the street)
  • Consent within digital media (e.g. GDPR)
  • Marginalised voices
  • Comparative, international perspectives
  • Violations of consent
  • Consent and the body/biopolitics (e.g. medical and reproductive rights)
  • Consent and disability studies
  • Legal consent and human rights issues

Creative contributions are encouraged and welcomed; we are looking to create an exhibition space alongside the conference. Send individual 250-word abstracts, or three-person panel applications, with short biographies, to by 17 May 2019. We anticipate publishing conference proceedings after the event.

The conference is supported by the Institute of Advanced Study and Josephine Butler College. The organisers are Sophie Franklin, Hannah Piercy, Rebecca White, and Arya Thampuran.

Contact for more information about this event.

Related Links


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.

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Next Event

  • 29th January 2021
  • Title TBC
  • Online (Zoom)
  • Dr Hannah-Rose Murray (University of Edinburgh)