Devils and Daemons: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference

deadline for submissions: 
March 31, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
The Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students in English (DAGSE)
contact email: 

Devils and Daemons: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference

“But what could Love be?” I said. “A mortal?

...

“He is a great spirit [Daimon], Socrates. Everything classed as a spirit falls between god and human”

In Plato’s Symposium, the wise woman Diotima reveals to Socrates that “Daimons” (later Latinized to “Daemons”) are the intermediaries between the gods and humans, mediums for divination, prophecy, and other moments of divine possession. “Love” reveals immortal beauty to mortals in the Symposium, while Socrates’ “daimonion” whispers prophetic warnings into his ear in Plato’s Apology. Even happiness had a touch of the divine for the ancient Greeks; their word for happiness was “Eudaimonia.” As monotheism took hold in Europe, however, the Latin “Daemon” became the evil “Demon” of the Christian era, identified with the devils and fiends that meddle with the good work of angels. Thus, contact with these spirits became a sinful act, a change with real material consequences for peoples accused of witchcraft or spell-casting.

In the wake of modernity, a new binary has arisen, one that pits psychological, psychopathological, and neuroscientific explanations against the belief in the supernatural. This binary carries its own troubled legacy: colonialist injustice against those deemed to hold “savage, superstitious” beliefs; the institutionalization of the clinically insane; pharmaceutical companies and the capitalist exploitation of psychotropic drugs. Thus, the belief, or lack thereof, in the existence of “devils and daemons” has real material, biopolitical consequences, and we encourage and invite thoughtful engagement with this theme.

The Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students in English (DAGSE) invites submissions of paper presentations for “Devils and Daemons: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference.” We welcome proposals from students at all levels and in all areas of graduate study. We encourage proposals from marginalized voices and prospective presenters are welcome to self-identify in their proposals. This three-day conference will be held August 8th to 10th, 2019 at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Childcare will be provided upon request.

We invite proposals for papers (15-20 minutes) on themes and subjects including, but not limited to:

* Representations of devils and demons in art, film, television, literature, comics, pop culture, etc., and across cultures, geographical regions, and time periods

* Mischievous creatures: fairies, poltergeists, satyrs, bogles, ravens, etc.

* Witchcraft and other practices associated with supernatural belief

* Insights into the concerns of a culture or time period as revealed by supernatural beliefs

* The devil as a facet of a comprehensive (religious/philosophical) system or world view

* Changing feelings towards demons: from fear to love, and the impulse to humanize them

* Theoretical approaches (post-colonial, feminist, posthumanist, etc) to demons and their history

* Devil as metaphor for temptation and desire

* The defeat of the “personal demon” as a self help strategy

* Guardian angels and intuition

* Spiritual possession as origin of artistic inspiration (“Sing through me Muse!”)

* Possession and war: battlefield bloodlust; spiritual possession and the brainwashing of child soldiers; ghosts and PTSD; etc.

* Mythological, religious, and neuroscientific explanations for demonic possession

* Spiritual possession and mental illness

Keynote Speakers: TBA

Submissions: Please submit a 250-word abstract plus a 50-word biographical statement that includes your name, current level of graduate study, affiliated university, and email address to dagse@dal.ca. Panel submissions are also welcome. Please include the words “Devils and Daemons Conference Abstract” in the subject line.

Deadline: 31 March 2019. Accepted presenters will receive notification in mid-May.

Contact the organizers at dagse@dal.ca if you have questions about the conference. Visit the conference website at https://dagseconference.wordpress.com/