Writing About Contemporary Artists: Challenges, Practices, and Complexities

deadline for submissions: 
May 29, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
University of Surrey, UK
contact email: 



An international, multi-disciplinary three-day conference to be hosted at the University of Surrey, UK, Friday 20 – Sunday 22 October 2017.


Writing about living or recently deceased figures presents unique challenges for scholars, journalists, and creative practitioners alike. This conference seeks to nurture dialogue between a range of different artistic fields concerning writing about contemporary artists. It encompasses disciplines including music, dance, theatre, film, digital arts, and creative writing as well as biographical, analytical, socio-contextual, promotional, ethnographic, and other types of discourse. It will focus upon the act of writing and the strategies, ideologies, and assumptions contained therein, as well as the boundaries as to what constitutes “writing” about contemporary artists in its multifarious forms, considering creative practice approaches alongside more conventional representations.


All types of artists, from all styles, genres, and cultures, may be considered under the aegis of the conference, including (but not limited to): classical, popular and world musics, contemporary dance and theatre, musical theatre, biopics and documentary film, digital media, and creative writing. The conference views writing about all artists – performers, directors, composers, choreographers, conductors, etc. – as being of equal importance. The expectation is that the majority of papers will address innovative, distinctive, or otherwise leading work by living or recently deceased artists active within the last c.25 years. 


20-minute papers (plus 10 minutes for questions) are invited on any aspect of writing about contemporary artists. Proposals for panels of 3–4 papers (1.5–2 hours) on a closely related topic are also warmly welcomed, as are proposals for roundtables (3–5 participants, 1 hour duration). Proposals adopting alternative formats (e.g. incorporating a practice as research dimension, or other creative work relating to the conference theme) will be favourably considered.


The deadline for submission of proposals is 29 May 2017. For further information and details of how to submit a proposal, please see the full Call for Papers at the conference website: http://www.ias.surrey.ac.uk/workshops/artistswriting/cfp.php


Details of keynote speakers, roundtables, and performances associated with the conference will be announced shortly, on the conference webpage.


Enquiries may be directed to the Chair of the Conference Committee, Dr Christopher Wiley (c.wiley@surrey.ac.uk).