CFP Dealing with Disasters: Cultural Representations of Catastrophes, c. 1500-1900

Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, 14-15 January 2021

Nowadays, we are constantly confronted with frantic reports on natural calamities. Major news outlets describe the potentially cataclysmic effects of the latest forest fires, floods, and storms – and due to the ongoing climate crisis, extreme weather events can be expected to have ever greater impacts on our lives. If we are left wondering how we should deal with these disasters, we should also acknowledge that natural calamities have always occurred and have affected human experience in myriad ways.

For many centuries, news about catastrophic events has been disseminated via media such as pamphlets, chronicles, poems, and prints. This conference seeks to address the cultural representations that reflected and shaped the ways in which people learned and thought about disasters that occurred either nearby or far away, both in time and space.

This conference welcomes contributions that engage with the cultural dimensions of disasters and reflect on representations of catastrophes in different media. In doing so, we offer a platform to scholars from various backgrounds to adopt multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to reconceptualising the broader socio-cultural consequences of disasters.

Themes that could be explored include, but are not limited to:

• representations of disasters in different media
• religious and ritual responses to disasters
• scientific understandings of disasters and technological innovation
• literary and artistic responses to catastrophes
• remembrance and memory culture surrounding disasters
• material culture of disasters, including disaster relics
• political and societal dimensions of representations of disasters
• human-nature relations in the context of disasters
• history of emotions in the context of disasters
• appropriation of disasters and (collective) identity formation
• solidarity and conflict in the wake of disasters

Paper proposals (max. 300 words) should reach the conference committee by 1 June 2020 via email:
Please enclose a 100-word biographical note.

See attached for full CFP.

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