Skip to main content Skip to navigation

The Remains of the Body: Legacy and Cultural Memory of Bodies in World Culture

Buonamico Buffalmacco, Trionfo della Morte, in Campo Santo of Pisa, 1336-1341 (detail)

Buonamico Buffalmacco, Trionfo della Morte, in Camposanto of Pisa, 1336-1341 (detail)

Saturday 22nd May 2021

Confirmed Keynote speakers:

Professor Andrew Smith (University of Sheffield)

Professor Patricia Phillippy (Coventry University)

Due to unforeseen circumstances Professor Angela Wright can no longer join the conference and her keynote speech has been cancelled.

Registration has now closed

If you wish to be put on the waiting list for a place please email remainsofthebody at gmail dot com

Please note - some of the sessions will be recorded and in registering to attend this event you are giving your consent to be recorded.

Joining instructions with a link will be emailed to registered delegates nearer the the time.

Conference Programme

Call For Papers(now closed)

The Remains of the Body will be held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Scope and main objectives

The question of corporeality has provoked and challenged critical thinkers across the centuries, and remains the subject of sustained and varied examinations, to which the burgeoning lists of new titles devoted to the body testify.

This event intends to tackle the current issue of how bodies are marked, organised and produced as cultural entities that leave traces in imagery after their total or partial material dissolution. The aim is to gather an interdisciplinary network of scholars to explore the ways in which the body, or part of it, is preserved and remembered over time through different aspects of representation, in order to evaluate its cultural impact. The conference's key concepts include: sacralisation/desacralization; the legacy of the body; the body as a relic of a past age; immortality or techniques for enduring posthumous fame/life; remembrance; memory; and commemoration. What is aimed to be explored is then, specifically, the relationship between the body, death and memory, thereby assessing the legacy of bodies.

The conference welcomes papers from a broad chronological period and dealing with any geographical area without restrictions.

The preservation of bodies/corpses, or parts of them, can be related to various and different cultural manifestations, such as religious beliefs, patriotism, and pledges of love. This event has thus been conceived as fully interdisciplinary, and intends to convene students, PhD candidates, early-career scholars and professors from both the humanities (literature, history of art, history, classical studies, film and media studies) and the social sciences (anthropology, philosophy, sociology, politics, popular culture/folklore studies, medical culture, and history of medicine), and would address various approaches (gender studies, fashion, Körperkultur, the making of the nation). This conference is also meant to reflect upon the importance of remembrance and commemoration; as a consequence, the remains of the body are pertinent to issues such as: the tombs of unknown soldiers, which scatter our cities; the relics of saints and martyrs shielded in our places of worship; and the myriad gendered depictions of dead bodies in visual culture.


The discussion emerging from the conference should pose a series of questions, such as: how did different cultures depict dead bodies at different times, and how were they understood as important and valuable? In which way is the body of a male hero represented? How does this representation differ from the body of a dead woman? How much is the body important in issues of national identity and popular folklore?

Playlist of all talks


Simona Di Martino

Conference Email: