CFP: ‘Temporal Discombobulations: Time and the Experience of the Gothic’

I’m excited to post the following CFP for ‘Temporal Discombobulations’ a conference dedicated to the Gothic and time. This looks to be an exciting and innovative conference.

At the start of the academic year, it looks like it is time to get this year’s conference schedule organised.

Temporal Discombobulations: Time and the Experience of the Gothic

Gothic Temporalities Group in conjunction with the University of Surrey

University of Surrey, 22-24 August 2016

Our experience of the Gothic is one founded in time. Whether it is of a past that will not or cannot die, multiple presents that can never resolved, or infinite futures that can never be realised it speaks of a temporal excess that refuses to be contained.

Time is one of the fundamental concepts by which we relate to ourselves, others, and the spaces we inhabit. It is at once both an endless, infinite concept and a finite resource, constantly slipping away and being renewed. The Gothic then embodies something of this contradictory nature within the experience of time, manifesting the uncanny unease at its heart. This gives form to a temporal sensory overload: of the moment that is too full, excessive and unable to hold all the differing and contradictory amounts of time it contains. It is the time of the spectre, the dream, the vision, and the infinite.

As a genre and an ideology, the Gothic is inherently drawn to temporalities with expressions through ruin and decay, extravagance and excess. As the expressionist artist James Ensor articulates, the ruin is a site in which deviant behaviours arise and become eroticised in a “contemporary gothic aesthetic.” This conceptualises the gothic moment as one one which is eroticised not as an entirely sexual experience but as one of heightened sensational and sensory excess.

This conference then aims to explore the nature of this temporal sensory excess which sees local time disrupted and discombobulated by vast swathes of historical time, parallel worlds or sublime or infinite futures. Examples of such narratives can be seen where:

  • Literal ghosts and psychological apparitions infect the present, such as Insidious, The Awakening, Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare.
  • Other-worldly constructions of the past, present or future that break into reality such as Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Inception (2010), The Terminator series, M.C. Escher, Giovani Piranesi, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen, George Orwell’s 1984, Mark Morris’ The Wolves of London, Mike Carye’s The Girl with all the Gifts
  • The infinite, sublime and the erotic as seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Alien (1979), Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, Toni Morrison’s Beloved and the art of H.R.Giger
  • Historical time, parallel worlds, doppelgangers in Philip Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, James Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Melissa Mar’s Wicked Lovely, mash-up novels like Android Karenina and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula
  • Eruptions of the Gothic past: Daphne duMaurier’s Rebecca, Matthew Lewis’ The Monk, Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Paintings of Anselm Keiffer.
  • Breaking reality: Stephen King’s The Shining, Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, Neuromancer, Mark Z Danielewski ‘s House of Leaves, Fight Club (1999), Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), Surrealism and Neo-Surrealism – Salvador Dali and dream imagery.

We invite 20-minute papers on all aspects of Gothic time in art. Suggested topics and themes include (but are not limited to):

  • Temporality in classical Gothic texts
  • Ruinophilia
  • Explorations of ruin and decay in the arts
  • Spectres of the past or future
  • Time and decay in the Gothic
  • Temporal ruptures, such as regression, progression, displacement or echoes
  • Gothic spaces that function outside or beyond time
  • Parallel universes, ruptured time and relativity
  • Temporal excess that “real” time cannot contain
  • Traumatic time, temporal wounds and repairing time
  • Timelessness and immortality
  • Fundamentalism as regression
  • Medievalism in the Twenty-first century
  • The “found manuscript” and constructing authenticity through notions of the past and/or future
  • The return of the past and eternal recurrence
  • The temporal gravity of Destiny and/or fate
  • Photography as a medium to capture slippages of time and corporeality from 19th C images of the departed to images of modern ruins

The conference organisers welcome the submission of proposals for short workshops, practitioner-based activities, performances, and pre-formed panels. We particularly welcome short film screenings; photographic essays; installations; interactive talks and alternative presentation styles that encourage engagement.

Please send paper proposals of 300-500 words, along with a short bio to  no later than 4th March 2016. Further information on the conference can be found at:

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