Conference ‘Artful Deceptions’, National University of Ireland, Galway 2004


A IAWIS-sponsored bilingual French-English Conference entitled Artful Deceptions: Verbal and Visual Trickery in French Culture / Les Supercheries littéraires: la tromperie dans la culture française was held at National University of Ireland, Galway on 16-17 April 2004. Over fifty speakers, based in nine different countries, participated in the event, which was organised by our member Maria Scott and Catherine Emerson of the Department of French at NUI, Galway.

Jean-François Jeandillou gave the introductory keynote lecture on ‘La Supercherie littéraire en images’. This paper examined the way in which fake portraits – paintings, photographs, even statues – have served, in the past, as supposed proofs of the existence of imaginary authors. On the Saturday afternoon, Malcolm Bowie gave a keynote lecture entitled ‘Mallarmé, Psychoanalysis and ‘Mystery’ in Literature’, which treated of the function of the secret in literature and art.

There were fifteen non-plenary panels, whose titles included ‘Forgery’, ‘To see or not to see’, ‘The faithful image’, ‘Specular narratives’, ‘Perfidious bodies’, ‘Celluloid illusions’, and ‘Seductions’. Papers discussed the workings of trickery in visual images and written texts and, more usually, in the context of word-image relations, for example in poetic tranpositions of art, photographic illustrations of written text, art criticism, and narratives involving visual image. Speakers also tackled historical and philosophical questions relating to the role of perspective, illusion and fascination in art, literature and cinema.

The conference was judged a great success by all, and the organisers hope to publish a selection of the papers.