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Dialogues of Power: Political (Re)presentations in the Arts

28-29 October 2016

Conference programme (PDF, 272 KB)

Burmese marionettes (photo by Marti Patel)
Burmese marionettes (photo by Marti Patel)

Generously sponsored by The Honeyman Foundation (registered charity number: SC009431), School of Modern Languages / University of St Andrews, Centre for Academic, Professional and Organisational Development (CAPOD), and ?Prof. J. Derek Woollins, Vice-Principal (Research) and Provost / University of St Andrews.

Keynote speakers

Professor Marvin Carlson (City University, New York)

will deliver the inaugural lecture on 27 October 2016, 6pm (Lecture Theatre, Arts Building):
'Art and Politics: East and West'

Professor Kristine Vanden Berghe (University of Liège)
'Tensions Between Political Content and Artistic Form:  The Case of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation'

Professor Margaret McGowan (University of Sussex)
'Festival and Illusion: Princely Entries and Political Aspiration in 16th Century Europe' 

Registration is now open at Online Payment Services, University of St Andrews. Registration for the conference is £20 and includes lunch, tea and coffee on both days.

Until well into the eighteenth century, the arts and politics were often intimately intertwined through networks of patronage. Religious and political authorities commissioned works of art that were designed to promote or implement their policies. In our own times, patronage has given way to a wide variety of production modes, thanks to which the arts operate on a more autonomous footing vis-à-vis the realm of politics. This leaves one wondering, however, to what extent the arts in the twenty-first century can or should relate to issues of political interest. On the one hand, there is a deep pessimism about the political significance of the arts in society. As is well known, governments and education systems frequently cut art-related subjects from their budget. On the other hand, this pessimism urges artists to think about the political effects and underpinnings of their work in novel and creative ways. Community and verbatim theatre, life writing and experimental forms of documentary film serve as a case in point.

This conference takes its cue from the recent debate on the role of the arts in society by exploring the multifaceted relationships or 'dialogues' between the arts and politics. It asks: What is the political potential of the arts to (re)present emerging dialogues in an ever-increasing globalized society? How do artists use their work to convey or capture political messages and/or tensions in society? What kind of artistic techniques do they employ in doing so? How have relationships between the arts and politics changed or shifted over time? What do we mean by 'politically engaged' art? How are the links between the arts and politics conceptualized in current debates about the role of the arts in society?

Organising committee:

Isabelle Gribomont (Spanish, School of Modern Languages)
Bram van Leuveren (Comparative Literature, School of Modern Languages)
Tiran Manucharyan (Arabic, School of Modern Languages)