Buonamico Buffalmacco, Trionfo della Morte, in Camposanto of Pisa, 1336-1341 (detail)
Saturday 22nd May 2021
Confirmed Keynote speakers:
While we hope to hold this conference as a face-to-face event , The Remains of the Body may need to be held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We will keep you updated as developments take place.
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?