High and Low: Cultural Levels in Word and Image/Post-Graduate Conference

Date: June 8 – 9, 2011
Venue: Dundee, Scotland

High and Low is the ninth annual Postgraduate Conference held by the English Programme, University of Dundee, and runs in conjunction with the Scottish Word and Image Group annual conference. It will address configurations of high and low in literature and visual media and is particularly interested in the perceived distinction between highbrow art and lowbrow entertainment, and the ways in which middlebrow texts, and other amalgamations of these two categories, are able to negotiate the apparent gulf between them. Of particular relevance to this dichotomy are texts that have been subject to critical re-evaluations over time, works that mix the sacred and the profane, and artistically sophisticated products of trash culture.

High and Low is also concerned with texts that explore the related issue of status in class-based and other hierarchical societies. There are, of course, many other relevant formations of high and low that emerge in literature and visual media, including depictions of heaven and hell, economic peaks and troughs, and psychological highs and lows in the form of intoxication, madness, depression, and manic depression, and texts that function on both high and low cultural levels, and that accommodate shifts in tone and mood. One panel in particular will focus on the relationship between word and image, and whether words have more prestige than images, whether images in texts are seen as merely decorative or illustrative, with negative connotations, or whether images and words work together in more profound or interesting ways.

The conference will be opened by a reading by the celebrated poet Don Paterson, whose works include Nil Nil (Faber, 1993), God’s Gift to Women (Faber, 1997), The Eyes (Faber, 1999), Landing Light (Faber, 2003; Graywolf, 2004), Orpheus (Faber, 2006) and Rain (Faber, 2009; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010). Paterson, originally from Dundee, teaches poetry at the University of St Andrews and received the OBE in 2008 and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2010.

Proposals that address configurations of high and low are welcomed from all disciplines and periods. We particularly encourage proposals dealing with mediaeval and early modern works, and from a word and image perspective, demonstrating the intersection of literature and visual culture. Proposals should be 300 words long, for papers lasting 20 minutes. For more information contact Keir Elder (k.j.z.elder@dundee.ac.uk). The deadline for proposals is 31st March 2011. For further information on the conference please consult: http://www.twitter.com/HighandLowCon.

See for submissions details, registration, and all further information:http://www.dundee.ac.uk/english/news/2011/highandlowcfp/
[Please note: this is an archival entry; conference website may be discontinued.]