Consent: Histories, Representations, and Frameworks for the Future

A two-day conference will bring together academics, experts, and activists from across the UK and around the world who work on and campaign for issues and ideas surrounding consent. Ideas for papers, panels and creative contributions are due by 17th May, with the conference taking place 5th to 6th August at Josephine Butler College.

‘[S]aying no when no feels right is something to be proud of.’
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

‘Our claim […] is a claim for the rights of all.’
– Josephine Butler

‘Consent is a downward motion, I think – a leap or a fall – and whether they’ll admit it or not, even the most decisive people can find themselves unable to tell whether or not their consent was freely given. That inability to discover whether you jumped or were pushed brings about a deadened gaze and a downfall all its own.’
– Helen Oyeyemi

Consent affects people of all genders, sexual orientations, and nationalities. Responding to recent campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, as well as the work of the 1752 Group, this timely two-day conference will bring together researchers working on consent from a range of different historical, geographical, and disciplinary perspectives. We seek participants who address the representation of consent in literature, history, law, and society, from any time period and in any geographical region. Participants investigating historical views of consent are encouraged, where appropriate, to make connections with the present day. We especially invite papers with an intersectional and international approach, which give voice to those who have hitherto been doubly overlooked and silenced.

The conference will consist of some traditional panels of papers and two keynote lectures, along with creative contributions, discussion groups, and a film screening. These alternative formats will facilitate active engagement and conversations, opening up positive dialogues for the future.

Confirmed keynote speakers are Dr Maryam Mirza (Durham University) and Dr Victoria Bates (Bristol University).

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Literary representations of consent
  • Historical and ongoing debates about consent
  • Consent within the law
  • Depiction of consent in film, television, drama, visual arts, music, radio, media, the internet etc.
  • Teaching consent
  • Consent within the university environment and academia
  • Consent within professional environments, such as the workplace
  • Consent within social contexts (e.g. parties)
  • Consent in public places (e.g. on public transport and the street)
  • Consent within digital media (e.g. GDPR)
  • Marginalised voices
  • Comparative, international perspectives
  • Violations of consent
  • Consent and the body/biopolitics (e.g. medical and reproductive rights)
  • Consent and disability studies
  • Legal consent and human rights issues

Creative contributions are encouraged and welcomed; we are looking to create an exhibition space alongside the conference. Send individual 250-word abstracts, or three-person panel applications, with short biographies, to by 17 May 2019. We anticipate publishing conference proceedings after the event.

For more information visit the conference website, follow @consentdurham on Twitter or view the Facebook event.

The conference is supported by the Institute of Advanced Study and Josephine Butler College. The organisers are English Studies postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers Sophie Franklin, Hannah Piercy, Rebecca White, and Arya Thampuran.

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