Representing Perpetrators (CFP deadline 12 April 2010)

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Department of English Literature, University of Sheffield
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Representing Perpetrators:
An Interdisciplinary Conference

24-25 September 2010

Humanities Research Institute
University of Sheffield

Confirmed speakers: Professor Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway); Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge (University of East Anglia)

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the trials of Radovan Karadzic and John Demjanjuk place the issue of genocidal guilt once more at the centre of public consciousness. As ever, the figure of the perpetrator fascinates and appals, both inviting and resisting historical and aesthetic representation. The furore provoked by such literary works as Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones (2006; translated 2009) illustrates the scrutiny to which representations of perpetrators are subjected, indicating the status of the perpetrator in contemporary society as both media spectacle and cultural taboo.

This interdisciplinary conference aims to address the complex, troubling and fiercely contested issues surrounding the representation of those responsible for genocidal violence. More precisely, it aims to investigate the kind of questions perpetrator experience poses for literary, cinematic and cultural practice, and the techniques that have been employed by writers, filmmakers and other cultural producers as a means of negotiating these issues.

Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers which address any aspect of the representation of perpetrators of genocide. Possible topics include, but are not restricted to, the following:

– The ethical problems surrounding perpetrator representation

– Claude Lanzmann's notion of the 'obscenity of understanding', and its implications for creative and documentary practice

– Representations of guilt, conscience, and ethical responsibility

– Ideological delusion and perpetrator experience

– Second and third generation memory; issues of inheritance and guilt

– Reconciliation and/or justice

– Gender issues in the representation of perpetrators

– Narratives of evasion and revision; issues of perpetration, national identity and/or historiographic practice.

Proposals of around 250 words should be sent to Sue Vice ( by 12 April 2010.