John Berger Now 12-13th September 2017

deadline for submissions: 
June 16, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
School of Humanities, Canterbury Christ Church University


John Berger Now

12-13th September, 2017 School of Humanities, Canterbury Christ Church University.

Keynote: Professor Vikki Bell (Goldsmiths), Dr Tom Overton (editor, Landscapes and Portraits, currently writing Berger's biography)

Roundtable discussion with Professor John Bowen (York), Professor Tessa McWatt (UEL) and Professor Jeff Wallace (Cardiff Metropolitan)

The Conference:

‘The death of the artist is a dividing line’ wrote John Berger in 1966. ‘Every artist’s work changes when he dies. And finally no one remembers what his work was like when he was alive … [His work] will have become evidence from the past, instead of being … a possible preparation for something to come.’

The beginning of 2017 sadly marked the death of John Berger, two months after his ninetieth birthday. As the life of an extraordinary writer about art and photography, Booker Prize-winning novelist, poet, playwright, and polemicist came to an end, so we have seen the first steps being taken in the formation of his posthumous legacy. John Berger Now seeks to build on the wave of recent scholarship presented at conferences on John Berger (University of Gdansk, 2011 and 2012, Kings College London, 2012 and Cardiff Metropolitan, 2014), and in On John Berger (ed. Ralph Hertel and David Malcolm) and seeks also to respond to and build upon the reception to his death in the weeks since January.

The title of this conference speaks to the bracing process of seeing Berger and his body of work from our position on the other side of the dividing line. It also seeks to stress the importance of a writer whose work speaks directly and urgently of and to the state of the world at this moment in time. To these ends it welcomes contributions from across the many disciplines that Berger’s work encompasses.

Accompanying the conference will be a series of public events, to which conference delegates are warmly invited:

Canterbury Curzon Cinema

                       Screening of The Seasons In Quincy, introduced by director Professor Colin MacCabe

Sidney Cooper Gallery

                      Exhibition of photographer Libby Hall’s portraits of John Berger.

                      Panel discussion celebrating John Berger’s creativity and hospitality, chaired by Gareth Evans, in association with Refugee Tales.

                      Day of gallery screenings of Berger-related films, curated by Gareth Evans, in association with Whitstable Biennale.

Call for papers

Topics for papers will be organised into panels, which might include or resemble, but are certainly not restricted to, the following:


  • Text and image
  • Aesthetics and materialism
  • Writings on photography
  • John Berger and poetry
  • John Berger and the theatre
  • The politics of representation
  • The reception to Berger’s death
  • John Berger and literary form
  • Auto/biography
  • John Berger and cinema
  • Aesthetics of hospitality
  • Consequences and cultures of the 'new poverty' (John Berger)
  • Recent publications by John Berger


To present a 20-minute paper discussing any aspect of Berger’s work, influence, collaborators, or legacy, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to Dr. Richard Turney at by the extended deadline of 16 June 2017.