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The one-day conference seeks to bring together scholars of different disciplinary backgrounds who share an interest in the history and theory of allegory in order to explore and promote the notion of allegory studies as an emergent nexus of interdisciplinary scholarship.

Since the mid-twentieth century, allegory has increasingly been approached as a subject in its own right, informed by, but transcending particular disciplinary, periodical, or author-focused contexts. This development seems to have reached a critical point over the past two decades, which have seen a steady stream of articles and monographs, as well as such comprehensive reference works as an Encyclopedia of Allegorical Literature (Leeming and Drowne 1996), a Dictionary of Allegorical Meanings (Brumble 1999), a pioneering collaborative overview of allegorical interpretation in the West (Whitman 2000), and, most recently, volumes in the New Critical Idiom (Tambling 2010) and Cambridge Companions (Copeland and Struck 2010) series. A number of recent conferences and seminar panels have approached the subject without disciplinary or periodical restrictions, and the phrase “allegory studies” – although traceable at least to Gordon Teskey’s Allegory and Violence (1996) – has begun to appear in contemporary scholarship on the subject.

By all accounts, then, the current state or research on allegory seems to be marked by the consolidation of a long and extraordinarily productive tradition of scholarship – including contributions from such fields as art history, classics, intellectual history, linguistics and cognitive science, literary studies, patristics, philosophy and critical theory, theology, religion studies – into a coherent interdisciplinary formation in its own right. At this propitious moment, papers are invited from scholars of any disciplinary background to discuss the various issues raised by these developments, such as (but not limited to):

- Why allegory studies? What is it about this subject that seems to demand a dedicated interdisciplinary platform in its own right?

- What are the main achievements of allegory studies thus far? What are the most promising avenues of exploration?

- Theory and history in allegory studies – what light does theoretical work throw on the history of allegory, and conversely, how do historically contextualized perspectives bear on the theoretical approaches to the subject?

- What is the relation between the marked rise in allegory scholarship since c. 1950 and the roughly coextensive “revival of allegory” originating in the work of such thinkers as Walter Benjamin and Paul de Man and permeating various corners of the contemporary academic and cultural sphere?

Papers are solicited from scholars of any disciplinary background and career stage – proposals from graduates and junior academics are especially welcome. Applicants are encouraged to engage with the subject of allegory and allegory studies in ways which transcend traditional disciplinary and periodisational boundaries, and priority will be given to abstracts clearly demonstrating the ability to communicate effectively to the interdisciplinary audience the conference aims to attract. It is hoped that the conference will lead to a publication showcasing the wide array of current approaches to the subject and paving the way for further collaboration and research.

Allegory Studies?

University of Warwick

7 November 2013


500-word abstracts for 20-minute papers, accompanied by a brief biographical note,
to be sent to the convenor at v dot brljak at warwick dot ac dot uk
by 31 May 2013.