Creating a World without Violence Against Women and Girls: An interdisciplinary conference on the role of the arts

deadline for submissions: 
August 5, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Dr Hilary McCollum, Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen's University Belfast

Conference: 25 November to 26 November 2022 at Queen’s University Belfast and online

Creative activism has played an important role in the struggle against violence against women and girls. Across the literary, visual and performing arts, artists and writers have helped to break the silence and defy the shame about violence against women and girls, honour survivor strength and resistance, shape understanding of gendered violence, and provide survivors with moments of recognition of their lives and experiences. Such work has challenged cultural mythologies that on the one hand minimise the impact of violence, and on the other portray it as something impossible to recover from. Creative activism has disputed the victim-blaming/perpetrator-excusing portrayals of previous generations of (largely white, male) artists and writers. 

Recently there has been a resurgence of creative activism. #MeToo inspired survivors to give creative expression to their experiences and gave fresh impetus to feminist scholarship on the role of creative representations in either perpetuating or preventing violence against women and girls. Nevertheless, the potential of the arts to create a world without violence against women and girls remains under-explored and under-recognised. 

This two-day conference at Queen’s University Belfast on 25 and 26 November 2022 will bring together activists, creative practitioners, academics and survivors to explore how we can make the best use of literary, performing and visual arts in the struggle to end violence against women and girls. 

Registration is free but delegates will need to pay for their meals and accommodation. 

We invite a range of contributions to the conference and a diversity of methods and theoretical approaches, including performances, creative workshops, and academic papers. We want to hear from creative practitioners, activists, and academics and researchers. We recognise that all of these groups include survivors, and we welcome survivor contributions.  

We seek contributions that consider (but are not limited to) the following topics:

  • Representing/critiquing violence against women and girls in performing/literary/visual arts
  • Creative decisions about how to depict violence against women and girls
  • Intersectional approaches in creative representations of violence against women and girls
  • Critical and theoretical frameworks for analysing creative activism 
  • Scrutinising perpetrators in representations of violence against women and girls
  • Representations of female resistance and survival
  • Identifying and analysing representations of violence against women and girls in creative works from previous eras
  • Problematising canonical texts that reinforce cultural myths about violence against women and girls
  • Using creative representations to teach about mutuality and respect in sexual relationships in schools/universities/the community

Individual contributors will have 20 minutes for their presentations, panel contributions are welcome of up to one hour, and creative workshops can be for up to 1.5 hours. Abstracts of not more than 300 words or panel/workshop proposals of up to 500 words should be sent to by 5 August 2022. Please indicate whether your proposed contribution would be in person or online and include a biography of up to 100 words for each speaker/workshop facilitator.

Notice of acceptance will be sent within two weeks of the deadline. We hope that at least some sessions can be hybrid, allowing online as well as in person participation. 

In addition, we hope to have an in-conversation event with a writer working on these issues on the evening of 24 November, and a performance event on the evening of the 25 November.. 

For more information contact the conference organiser Dr Hilary McCollum: