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Imagining History: Wales in Fiction and Fact

Published Wed 28 Apr 2021 - By University of South Wales
The University of South Wales, Association of Welsh Writing in English, Llafur, Women’s Archive Wales, and Pontypridd Museum are inviting submissions of papers for their conference taking place on 12-13 November 2021.

Imagined histories in the form of historical fiction, films or television programmes are often at the heart of how we think about our national and personal identities.* Historical narratives based on ‘fact’ have always shaped our thinking about our nation, our communities and ourselves but they are often partial, fragmentary or distorted by particular vested interests. Historical fictions can allow us to re-imagine those narratives, filling the gaps and silences in recorded history. They can help us to imagine alternative histories as well as new futures.

Writers such as Raymond Williams, Elaine Morgan, Angharad Price, Catrin Collier, R Cyril Hughes, Owen Sheers, Hilda Vaughan, Christopher Meredith, William Owen Roberts, Gwyn Thomas, Stevie Davies, Gwynn ap Gwilym, Bruce Chatwin, Margiad Evans, Marion Eames, Jerry Hunter, Siân James and T Llew Jones have given us fictions about the past which have been influential and, often, hugely popular. Such fictions exist in a complex and sometimes contentious tension with mainstream historiography.

The conference organisers invite contributions on any topic relating to imagining the histories of Wales. Contributions are encouraged from across disciplines, historical periods, and methodological approaches. Topics might include, but are by no means limited to:

  • historical fiction and the ‘imagined nation’
  • local/global histories
  • race/gender/class and imagined histories
  • imagining alternative histories
  • historical film/television
  • preserving the past
  • museums/archives and historical fiction/film
  • language and imagined histories

Abstracts of 250 words for twenty-minute papers plus a brief biography (two sentences) should be submitted to diana.wallace@southwales.ac.uk by 1 July 2021.

The conference will not be confined to an academic audience and contributors are encouraged to think in terms of talks that reach out to a wider audience. Papers in English and Welsh are welcome. Proposals for panels of three twenty-minute papers and for interdisciplinary panels are also welcomed.

*For the purposes of the conference they suggest as a starting point a definition of ‘historical fiction’ as a text (eg novel/film/television programme) which is set well before the time of production, usually at least 50 or 60 years before, or before the birth of the author