Impassioned Britain: Familial and Divine Depictions of Feeling (1707 – 1907)

Impassioned Britain: Familial and Divine Depictions of Feeling (1707 – 1907), University of Liverpool, 15-17 July 2015

<<< New Abstract Deadline: 15 March 2015 >>>

Impassioned Britain Flyer ~~~ Impassioned Britain CFP 

Speakers include:

Joanne Bailey (Oxford Brookes University)

Simon Carter (Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London)

Heather Ellis (Liverpool Hope University)

Susan Matthews (University of Roehampton)

Frederick Ross (Art Renewal Center, New Jersey)

Bringing together historians, curators, literary critics, and creators of the largest online museum on the internet (ARC), this conference will explore familial and divine feelings in art, history, and literature. With reference to modern psychological and philosophical accounts of emotions, we invite scholars to discuss relevant topics. Contributors are invited to focus on and analyse historical renderings of affective vocabulary (emotion, feeling, sensation, sensibility, passion, affection, enthusiasm) with an emphasis on interpretative in/dependence or interchangeability. We aim to investigate particular works of art, historical records, and literary documents, promoting a return to excellence, connection, and distinction between the visual and verbal arts, demonstrating familial and divine relations to human communication and behaviour. The conference invites discussions of “impassioned Britain” not so much as a geographically bounded area of creativity and production, but rather as a historical currency of ideas exported and imported, collected and exhibited, inside and out of the country. In the light of increasing interdisciplinary exploration of emotions in the past decade, we look for corresponding ideas across several disciplines emerging through investigations of communicative teaching, originality, and influence of ideas by non-British history and art territories, the Celtic revival, otherness in British art and literature, adaptations of British literary creations, artworks, and so forth.

Poetic portraiture and historical iconography shape the major direction of our debates in this conference. Analytic takes on parallel and analogous works of emotive and metaphoric language are welcome. There are numerous examples whose thematic and structural comparisons, with specific reference to the philosophy of mind and art, stimulate a better understanding of affective boundaries. We are looking for works across genres, e.g. affective spectrum and the formation of adult feeling surging through Maria Edgeworth’s and Richard Lovell Edgeworth’s Practical Education (1798) compared with affective depictions in The Parent’s Assistant (1796). Contributors may compare writers, painters, and sculptors, who tell similar/different emotional tales by means of a variety of media and creative models, e.g. familial representative art in God’s Acre by Thomas Faed (1826-1900) compared with God’s Acre by Emily Osborn (1834-1913).  What emotional parallels do we find in these works and in Blanche Baughan’s “God’s Acre”? Beyond these and similar examples, how is “impassioned Britain” viewed in contemporary reading of the Enlightenment and the Romantic age.

Historical sources such as family memoirs, letter-writing conventions and epistolary manuscripts, family paintings and divine portraiture communicate both geography and genre of emotional manifestation. The conference seeks not only historical but also cultural sources of sentimental portraiture and familial correspondence, e.g. songs, iconic sculptures and funerary, medical treatise, and commonplace books. Presentations should engage with representation of “impassioned Britain” in text, context, and correspondence by demonstrating how such illustrations connected individuals – with one another or/and with the Divine – or left them isolated.

Participation: Abstracts of 250 words are invited for individual presentations of 20-25 minutes. Organisers consider panels, readings, and performance proposals. Email your proposal to at the University of Liverpool. For more information on keynote speakers, conference venue, proceedings, and future collaboration in this area, please visit Embodiments Research Group at the University of Liverpool and follow us on twitter @Embodiments.

Silence: A Semiotics of (in)Significance (Liverpool, 1-3 July 2015)

<<< New Abstract Deadline: 30 March 2015 >>>

Silence Flyer ~~~ Silence – CFP

Speakers include:

Natasha Alden (English & Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University)

Bernard Beatty (Literature & Theology, Universities of Liverpool & St Andrews)

Erik Grayson (Literature, Wartburg College)

David Lewin (Education Studies, Liverpool)

Paivi Miettunen (Medicine & Art, University of Calgary)

Fiona Tolan (Literature, Liverpool John Moores University)

Email Embodiments Research Group:

A number of conference bursaries (Memorial of Dr. Wasfia Mhabak) will be available for PhD scholars in literary and comparative studies. To apply, send us a full CV, research statement, and your abstract for the conference. A selection of papers will be considered for publication in our project book series.

For further details, please visit

Summer 2015 Conferences

If you missed our July 2014 conference, you can apply for either or both of the following conferences which will be held at the University of Liverpool early to mid July 2015.

  • Silence: A Semiotics of (in)Significance, 1-3 July 2015.
  • Impassioned Britain: Familial and Divine Depictions of Feeling (1707 – 1907), 15-17 July 2015.

For more information, abstract submission, and deadlines, refer to the CFP link on our events website.

miniposter impassioned 2

Pre-Easter Notes @Embodiments

Abstract submission @Embodiments researchers’ summer conference, Grief. Language. Art. (Liverpool, 8-10 July 2014), is now closed. Please be advised that we will not consider any further abstract submissions for this event. However, if you wish to attend as a non-presenting delegate, please get in touch with Embodiments Research Group, and our colleagues will be happy to help you with registration.

Thanks to everyone who participated, sending us excellent abstracts. Many thanks also to our attending speakers. We will be announcing the programme mid to late May 2014. In the meantime and if you have any queries on the programme and registration, please contact our organising board, email: We will now be off for Easter holiday until Wednesday, 23 April 2014. Please be patient with email queries in the meantime.


Last summer we hosted some outstanding panels, taking us through studies of pain and melancholy in different fields. This year, we are focused on intersections of grief, language, and art. Although we are now seeking focused contributions on the subject of grief, we encourage everyone – who will be attending this event - to consider and discuss how these themes are relevant. We will select the best works for publication in our forthcoming volumes in Texts and Embodiments in Perspective Book Series. Therefore, attending the conference during all sessions is obligatory for those who register. We have a policy of limiting the number of parallel sessions in the interest of collective engagement and in-depth focus on almost all presentations.  Conference organisation and experience of parallel sessions during previous  years has taught us that limited number of sessions in each day boosts the richness of our discussions and helps us to get a better picture of coherent themes.

Delegates, summer 2013 conference @Embodiments.

Some delegates in summer 2013 conference @Embodiments, fingers crossed for a sunny conference again this year…

Thank you and looking forward to meeting you in July 2014!
Happy Easter and wishing you all a lovely holiday.

Embodiments Research Group, University of Liverpool


World Book Night

Come and play with me,” proposed the little prince. “I am so unhappy.”

“I cannot play with you,” the fox said. “I am not tamed.”

~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“When I grow up I want to be a little boy”

~Joseph Heller

Recently we have been celebrating World Creativity and Innovation Week ( and today we celebrate World Book Night. For both occasions we have had a retreat – and a withdrawal – to enjoy being away from what is popular in academic circles at the moment, especially overrated and popular books in adult literary and reading groups. We have been opting for childhood narratives instead. Why? Here it goes:

Psychologists suggest that playing is central to one’s creativity, but adults rarely re-visit their childhood; how we used to play at school and what we used to read. Often social norms, cultural expectations, and individual emotions come together to prescribe play as an impediment to productivity, and to dismiss childhood narratives for those who are considered adults. Growing up is a process that invites certain attitudes to detachment from childhood. To be an adult, one is expected to behave in a certain manner as if being removed from a planet called childhood. Dr. Stuart Brown, founder and president of The National Institute for Play ( suggests that ‘humour, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age’. Interestingly, Brown’s research on play is rooted in his study of problematic adulthood, especially one that affects interpersonal relationships.

Think, for example, of anger and resentment. In the process of growing up, many individuals lose their sense of humour; we become serious by forgetting the power of childhood laughter. This is a problematic  process, as adults may find it difficult to accept any type of loss. Children learn losing and winning through play but once we grow up, losing becomes an awkward subject, so much so that everyone tries to win all the time. This, in turn, makes up for unhealthy and controlling behaviours, and as a result reducing productivity. We all know that a control freak finds it difficult to let go and play a creative role in personal life or in society and especially as a player in team-work. According to Bernie DeKoven ‘Our sense of humour has a lot to do with our ability to stay on a playful path. Joking with a stranger, laughing together, sharing a moment of silliness, we connect, we build bridges across the divide that keeps us strangers’. Psychology and sociology scholars suggest that playing is a must if you wish to spread love and kindness in your life and to others’ lives. ‘By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humour and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships – as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends’. Same goes with reading experiences. Indulge in your childhood narratives every now and again. Make sure to re-visit the very sentences that inspired you as a child. Take delight in touching colourful pages of a book you used to enjoy at school and never forget to play and playfully read.

So here at Embodiments we have chosen One Thousand and One Nights (كتاب ألف ليلة وليلة‎ ). We are travelling to the otherness of childhood narratives and to make it complete with the joy of friendship from across the world in playful reading, here is an excerpt from Le Petit Prince. Hope you enjoy it:

“Please–tame me!” said [the Fox].

“I want to, very much,” the little prince replied. “But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”

“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . .”

“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.

“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little distance from me–like that–in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . .”

The next day the little prince came back.

“It would have been better to come back at the same hour,” said the fox. “If, for example, you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o’clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . .”

“What is a rite?” asked the little prince.

“Those also are actions too often neglected,” said the fox. “They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours…”

So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near–

“Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”

“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . .”

“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.

“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.

“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.

“Then it has done you no good at all!”

“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.” And then he added:

“Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret.”

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses… And he went back to meet the fox.

“Goodbye,” he said.

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”