CFP: North and South Conference and Festival, University of York


University of York, Department of English and Related Literature / Writers at York / York Festival Of Ideas, York, 26-28 June 2013

North and South /North and South – The Latitude of Letters

Seamus Heaney, Ciaran Carson, Maggie Gee, Peter Davidson, Lucy Caldwell, Keith Ridgeway, Martin Wainwright

Does the latitude of literature follow the latitudes of the Ptolemaic world, still divided between North and South?

In Modern Europe, North is cold and prudish, industrial and wealthy, maritime and imperial; South is hot and epicurean, agrarian and communitarian, desert and poverty. Even in those nations which seem to invert these divisions—Spain, England—South has owed a debt to the cultural cachet of North, as authenticity, patronage, or enlightenment. North is Europe and South is Africa. North is capital and South is charity. North was Empire and South was colony.

The BBC has moved to Salford, the ‘Northern Way’ has wound down, and gaps in unemployment and property value continue to grow. If Scotland pursues devolved government to independence, the North/South axis might end up looking like an inversion of the relationship between the ‘South’ of Ireland—a secessionist republic—and its North, devolved but still in a troubled relationship with the United Kingdom of which it remains a part. The terms take on extra levels of social, political and cultural complexity, but in what wider ways do the ‘Norths’ and ‘Souths’ of Ireland cut across or contradict those in Great Britain? Is ‘South’ still to be presumed dominant over ‘the North’? In the context of a constitutional crisis that could see two-thirds of Britain’s ‘North’ secede from the United Kingdom, are we really able to use such apparently straightforward concepts straightforwardly anymore? Were we ever right to use them in the first place?

Topics and panels: the latitude of literature; culture and cartography; poetry and place; city and country; factory and farm; land and sea; past and present; empire and parish; trade and slavery; empire and nationalism; monarchies and republics; neighbourhoods and dialects; Britain and Ireland; suburban fiction and urban unrest; Post-Tiger and Troubles Ireland and Scotland; devolution and disintegration; Europe and the globe.

The conference will launch with Seamus Heaney reading on 26 June. This will be preceded by ‘Ireland North and South’, with novelists Lucy Caldwell and Keith Ridgeway and critics Eamonn Hughes, Margaret Kelleher and Matthew Campbell.

On 27 June there will be a performance by Ciaran Carson of his Owenvarragh, excerpts from his Belfast memoir set to music adapted from John Cage by Martin Dowling and Úna Monaghan and performed with Belfast traditional musicians.

The conference will be followed on 29 June by the York Festival of Ideas women’s Victorian Fiction event inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South.

Speakers in the conference so far confirmed include: Nicholas Allen, Ciaran Carson, Lucy Caldwell, Peter Davidson, Andrew Biswell, Katharine Cockin, Maggie Gee, Seamus Heaney, Graham Huggan, Stephanie Newell, Keith Ridgeway, John Sears, Katie Shaw, Martin Wainwright

Please send 300 word abstracts plus brief biodata to by Monday 6 May

— Matthew Campbell Dept of English and Related Literature University of York York YO10 5DD