Siblings on Stage, Page and Screen

deadline for submissions: 
October 2, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Dr Katie Barnett / University of Chester

Siblings on Stage, Page and Screen

Virtual Conference

Date: Saturday 16th January 2021


Though ubiquitous across stage, page and screen, images of siblings remain an under-researched and under-discussed phenomenon. The relationships, rivalries, conflicts and collaborations between brothers and sisters are frequently overlooked, and yet offer the possibility for fascinating discussion and insight into a wide range of cultural texts.

Following the successful Siblings on Stage and Screen symposium held at the University of Worcester in September 2018, we are delighted to announce a second Siblings conference, to be hosted virtually by the University of Chester via the Microsoft Teams platform. We invite papers which explore the relatively under-developed study of siblings in visual culture, performance and literature, in various and creative ways.

In literature, family relationships are both ubiquitous and complex and whether a Renaissance revenge tragedy or a novel by Jane Austen, the plot often pivots on the loyalty or jealousy between siblings, confusion caused by twins or conflict prompted by illegitimacy.  Whilst there have been many explorations of the role of siblings in both drama and fiction, the examination of sibling relationships in poetry remains an underdeveloped area of enquiry, both in terms of representation and as practitioners. 

On screen, sibling relationships are frequently depicted and yet rarely interrogated.Whether as a stabilising force, a source of antagonism, a parental substitute, or an unsettling doubled presence, images of brothers and sisters in film and television provide a counterpoint to the oft-investigated familial relationships between parents and children. Siblings filmmakers and actors, meanwhile, have been a constant force in cinema. Elsewhere, the sibling dynamic informs – and often complicates – other aspects of popular culture, including music, celebrity and video game narratives.

We invite papers of 20 minutes from the fields of theatre and performance studies, film and TV studies, literature, media and cultural studies, and related disciplines.  We also welcome proposals for complete panels of 3/4 papers.

Papers may explore the representation or practice of siblings across a range of media and genres.  We are interested in papers which explore all forms of relationships: blood, legal, social and religious. Topics may include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Family relationships and dynamics; birth order
  • Representations of sisterhood/brotherhood
  • Twins or multiple births
  • Doubling or Doppelgänger
  • Mythical or Biblical sibling imagery
  • Missing parents; orphans
  • Death of a sibling
  • Siblings in adulthood or old age
  • Siblings and alternative family structures
  • Incest; illegitimacy; inheritance
  • Ambition and revenge; family feuds; loyalty
  • Siblings in relation to gender and sexuality
  • Fraternity and sorority; monastic or conventual communities
  • Siblings as directors, performers, writers or celebrities

Please send proposals of 300 words, and a short biography, to the organisers at by Friday 2nd October 2020. If you would like any further information, or have any questions, please feel free to contact us via email.

Dr Katie Barnett (Music, Media and Performance, University of Chester)                            

Dr Sharon Young (English Literature, University of Worcester)