Centre for Studies in Literature

Conference 2016: Modernity & the European Mind: Writing the Past, Constructing Identities

A two-day international symposium hosted by the Centre for Studies in Literature at the University of Portsmouth: Thursday, 16th June & Friday, 17th June 2016

In 1953, L.P. Hartley famously opened his novel The Go Between with the line "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there". Yet, despite this alleged ‘difference’ and metaphorical ‘foreignness’ of the past, contemporary Culture and Literature put great emphasis on (re)presentations of it. This conference aims to investigate and debate the various representations and rewritings of the modern European past and, in particular, to assess their link to the construction of identities – personal, local, regional, national. Bringing together academics from a variety of disciplines, creative practitioners, storytellers and representatives of various local communities, the conference wants to create a sense of (his)stories of the past and their importance in and for the present.

Topics may include:

  • Uses of the past in modern European culture
  • National, local and regional identities
  • Stories of minority communities in Europe, past and present
  • Minority Literatures (and their translations)
  • The importance of the ‘past’ for the creation of local, regional and national identities
  • The representation of local communities in literature

Modernity and the European Mind programme


Our keynote speakers are Prof Catherine Bernard, Université Paris Diderot and Prof Julian Wolfreys, University of Portsmouth. We will also have a special panel session on 'Memory Work' with Artist Josie Beszant and Drut'Syla Shonaleigh.

The evening event on Thursday, June 16th will include performances by Shonaleigh, Paul Armfield and the Nightwatchmen, plus art by Josie Beszant.


Places may be booked through the university's online store:

Book for Modernity & the European Mind

Further information

Queries may be sent to Dr Christine Berberich, Christine.berberich@port.ac.uk.