The Marcher Metaphysicals Conference, 29 October-1 November 2015
Gregynog Hall, Tregynon, Mid-Wales
The Welsh Marches, Marchia Walliae, or Y Mers in Welsh, constitute an extensive area around the boundary between England and Wales. This border country, in its breadth and somewhat hazy demarcation, defies precise definition, and invites fluidity of ideas and perception. The Marches are both a place in their own right, and an approach to somewhere else; they form a site of great natural beauty but also of historic political contention. Norman conquerors used these lands to subdue the native Welsh, as well as to create a jurisdiction separate from the English crown. Shakespeare represented them as a wild, rebel landscape, full of magic. The Marches were the imaginative home to a number of seventeenth-century poets who were interested in exploring the boundaries between material and spiritual experience. Their work forms the main focus of this conference. Equally important to our discussions will be the ways in which this poetic tradition has been updated and reinvigorated by Welsh and English poets in more recent times.
This conference seeks to explore the relationship between the early modern ‘metaphysical’ poets and the Marches that provided them with both material and imaginative landscapes. What influence did this place and its collective consciousness have on poets such as George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, Thomas Traherne and John Donne? How did these poets express an understanding of boundaries, power and resistance, and an appreciation of the beauty of the natural environment that informed them? How did their poetry speak to the aesthetic, religious, philosophical and political movements of the seventeenth century? How have the Marches, and indeed these poets, influenced modern poetry, helping poets to find new ways of describing and influencing a world beyond borders.
The conference will take place from the afternoon of Thursday 29 October to the morning of Sunday 1 November 2015 at Gregynog Hall, the historic house which is also the conference centre of the University of Wales. Gregynog is itself located in the Welsh Marches, near Newtown in Montgomeryshire, and is set in its own extensive and attractive grounds. It will form an appropriate and conducive setting for the discussion of the Marcher Metaphysicals.
We invite e-mail submissions for papers that explore the historical contexts, influences, and links shared by the seventeenth-century metaphysical poets, pursue fresh readings of their poetry or work critically with more recent British poets who have followed their tradition in negotiating geographical, linguistic, political or spiritual borders. The conference organisers also welcome submissions from poets and other creative artists inspired by the Welsh Marches and actively exploring the idea of ‘borders’.
For 15-20-minute papers, please send a 250-word titled abstract; for a complete 3-4-person panel, please send an overall title and individual 250-word titled abstracts for each paper; for creative presentations, please send a 250-word description indicating any other introductory materials (PDFs, CDs, DVDs) that the conference programming committee might then request for evaluation.
You should send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please indicate Marcher Metaphysicals 2015 in your subject line and include a 1-page CV giving an e-mail and a regular mail address. You should also indicate any expected audio-visual needs.
Deadline for submissions: 28 February 2015
Conference organisers: Dr Joseph Sterrett (Aarhus University, Denmark) and Prof Helen Wilcox (Bangor University, Wales)
Conference advisory committee: Dr Erik Ankerberg (Milwaukee Lutheran University, U.S.A.), Dr Elizabeth Ford (Open University, Cardiff, Wales) and Dr Chloe Preedy (Exeter University, England)