IASIL 2013 in Belfast: “Urban Cultures”


International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures Annual Conference


School of English, Queen’s University Belfast

22-26 July 2013

Call for Papers

 In an era when the majority of the world’s population now dwells in cities and urban centres, it is timely to re-consider the relationship between Ireland and the urban, not least because Ireland too has become very much more urbanised in recent decades. Richard Sennett’s definition of the city as ‘a human settlement in which strangers are likely to meet’ (The Fall of Public Man, 1993) is a pointer to new forms of social life and organisation in Ireland. The Irish already have a history as urban strangers. Those who migrated did so in large numbers to urban centres, where in many instances their presence became defining. Irish cities are not, therefore, confined to Ireland; London, Glasgow, New York, Boston are only a few of the urban centres with strong Irish associations, but many other cities have established connections with Ireland. The city is not self-contained; forms of regionalist theory extending back to the work of Patrick Geddes (one of the judges of the Civics Institute of Ireland’s ill-fated 1916 competition for designs for the future development of Dublin) see the city as both located in a rural hinterland and as necessarily connected to cities elsewhere. Such attitudes require both an assessment of the relationship of the country and the city, and a sense of the international dimensions of cities. There are forms of writing and cultural production which are characteristically urban whether we think of theatre as a largely urban-based institution, or forms of popular culture such as crime fiction, often questioning how much of a trace an urban individual can leave, or ‘chick lit’ which can be read as a guide to the consumer capitalist city.

 Long seen as anomalous within Ireland, due to its industrialisation, but never wholly fitting the profile of an industrial British city, Belfast, in the year that it celebrates the 400th anniversary of the granting of its original charter, is an appropriate location for such a conference.

 We welcome proposals for individual papers and panels on topics including but not limited to:

Literary and cultural representations of the city;

Cognitive geographies;

The literature and culture of individual cities;

The Belfast Group;

Diasporic and migrant cities;

Re-reading The Irish Writer and the City (1984);

Gender and the urban;

Urban sexualities;

Urban coteries;

The divided city;

The archipelagic city;

Urban genres;

Class and the city;

The city and memory.


Abstracts (250-300 words) to be sent to iasil2013@qub.ac.uk by 17 March 2013.


Please also include a brief biography (50 words including affiliation).

Individual papers should be no more than 20 minutes in length.

Research students in good standing who have papers accepted will have the conference registration fee waived.





Dr Eamonn Hughes
Senior Lecturer, Director of Education, School of English
Asst Director, Institute of Irish Studies

Postal Address:
School of English
Queen’s University Belfast
Belfast BT7 1NN
N. Ireland

Tel.: +44 (0) 289097 3320/3319
Fax: +44 (0) 2890 973334