14-18 July 2014

Université Charles de Gaulle – Lille 3

2014 marks the centenary of the beginning of WW1 during which many young Irish men fought and lost their lives on the battlefields of northern France. It is in this context that  the Université Charles de Gaulle – Lille 3 will host the 2014 IASIL conference 36 years after the late Professor Patrick Rafroidi hosted the first ever IASIL gathering outside of Ireland in 1978 in this same university.

The theme for this conference will be Embodying/Disembodying Ireland.

Confirmed writers

Theo Dorgan

Paula Meehan

Colin Teevan

Confirmed keynote speakers

Pr Maud Ellmann

Pr Declan Kiberd

Pr Lucy McDiarmid

Dr Cliona Ni Riordain

Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick

A post-conference tour will be organised from Saturday 19th to Sunday 20th July and will end in Paris on the Sunday evening.

Conference theme

The conference seeks to address the ways in which Irish literatures and culture represent both the materiality of bodies at war (the various modes of figuration, whether oblique or explicit, of wounded and dying bodies) and the absence at home of those who died in the fields and whose spectral correspondence was all that remained of them. On a more discursive level, we encourage reflection on conflicting and ideologically divergent narratives around Irish participation in the Great War and the manner in which it might be commemorated.

More generally, papers relating to the representation of historical violence as an assault upon the body would also be welcome: for instance, one might consider the recurrent motif of hunger, which simultaneously foregrounds the body and enacts its gradual depletion – whether this hunger is experienced against one’s will, as in the Famine, indeed famines, or self-inflicted as in the whole history of self-starvation in Ireland right up to the contemporary period.

The notions of embodying and disembodying Ireland also invite reflection on allegorical figurations of the nation, colonial personifications of Ireland and modern variations on and complications of the theme. Thus representations challenging the integrity of the body of the nation/island and/or exploring the political and aesthetic implications of the border may also be addressed.

Central to the conference theme is a discussion of the gendered body in Irish culture (on the one hand the disappearance of the materiality of the female body to the benefit of an iconography and discourse of purity, virginity and motherhood and, on the other, the fixation on an idealised, hypermasculine male body) and challenges to these pervasive narratives.

One could equally consider Gothic tensions between, on the one hand, textual saturation with grotesque, rotting, gory, decomposing bodies and, on the other, spectral presences – and the ways in which the Gothic has infused Irish modernity and continues to exert an influence today.

The topic is also designed to include consideration of bodies of text and their transformation over time: papers that engage with issues pertaining to intertextuality, intermediality, translation and adaptation are also welcome.

In keeping with tradition, it is also possible to submit abstracts which do not directly engage with the conference theme.

Submission of abstracts

Proposals for 20 minute papers should be sent to

before 17 March 2014. We especially encourage proposals for panels of 3-4 speakers. Abstracts should be 250-300 words long and should be accompanied by a short bio-bibliography.

We would like to remind you that only paid-up members of IASIL are eligible to give a paper.

You can join IASIL here