In this one-and-a-half-day international conference, hosted by the University of Dundee’s Centre for Critical and Creative Cultures, writers and teachers, academics, publishers and journalists will come together in a concentrated forum of panel discussions, readings and question-and-answer sessions that will explore the meaning and usefulness of this most supple, porous and open-ended literary form.
Held in the rooms of one of Scotland’s most prestigious, eccentric and little-known art collections, Hospitalfield House in Arbroath, we will be exploring how, in today’s world of referendums, post- truths and rigid assessment criteria, the essay may help our young people to think, write and imagine a new future; and find a way, for teachers and writers, out of the clotted thinking and conservatism that sometimes restrains the Academy and Fourth Estate.
The conference will pose some of the following questions: How might returning to the essay’s roots help us move towards writing a different kind of academic paper or help yield a more open kind of journalism – a more varied but also intellectually serious kind of popular intervention? How can the essay be taught in schools as a way of educating the next generation to be thinkers? What are the core values of a literary form that goes back to the “pensées” of Montaigne, and writing by Bacon, Burke and Johnson? Who are some of the contemporary essayists that have taken up the baton, and developed the essay form? What of personal or lyric essays, writing that transgresses generic boundaries? And finally, how might we learn to write better essays ourselves?
These ideas and more will be the basis for an inspiring day and a half of thinking, discussion and reading.
Speakers and discussion leaders:
Philip Lopate will deliver the keynote lecture. Based at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, his publications include, Portrait of My Body (1996), Getting Personal (2004), Portrait Inside My Head (2013), A Mother’s Tale (2017).
Chris Arthur is an award-winning essayist whose work has appeared in The Best American Essays; his new essay collection Hummingbirds Between the Pages is forthcoming in 2018.
Emma Bolland is an artist and writer with a trans-disciplinary practice working across film, drawing, text, and performance. She uses the essay form as a cross-genre space for exploration.
Mary Bovill is lecturer at the University of Edinburgh with interests spanning interdisciplinary learning and communities of practice, critical pedagogy and critical literacy.
Graham Domke is an internationally regarded curator and critic. His latest project is the “Chamber of Maiden Thought”, an exhibition about visual pleasure, colour theory, psychology, creativity and friendship.
Dan Gunn from the American University in Paris investigates the space between fiction and non-fiction, and is editor of the Cahiers Series of essays.
David Graham is managing director of Pavilion Books. He was previously at Granta, Canongate and consultant on essay publishing at Notting Hill Editions.
Gabriel Josipovici is one of Britain’s foremost essayists and critics, whose work has ranged across a diverse host of literary and cultural subjects from the Bible to modernism to writing and the body.
Kim Kremer is a publisher at Notting Hill Editions, the publishing house that is dedicated to the essay form and hosts the NHE International Essay Prize.
Tracy Mackenna, an artist, curator and educator, teaches at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (University of Dundee); she links the visual and the textual in her work.
Peter McDonald is a Fellow of St Hugh’s College, Oxford whose research addresses literary guardianship and the idea of culture.
Elizabeth Reeder is a novelist and essayist with particular interest in contemporary fiction and crossover forms such as lyric essays. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow and recently jointly curated a series of conversations for the Essay Press, Digressions: On Essaying in the UK.
Alan Taylor is a journalist and critic, editor of The Scottish Review of Books, and publisher of essays and long-form journalism.
Kenny Taylor is a writer, editor, naturalist, photographer and musician who communicates through many different media. He is the editor of Northwords Now.
Please click names for links to individual websites.
Click here for Eventbrite Conference Booking: http://bit.ly/2Edl9yF
NB: there is small charge for Eventbrite bookings.
8.30-9.15 am Arrival and registration
9.15 Introductory remarks (Picture Gallery)
9.30-10.30 Keynote (Picture Gallery)
Philip Lopate, “Notes Toward a Keynote Speech on the Essay”
10.30- 12.20 Imagining Essays (Panel & discussion, Picture Gallery)
Chris Arthur, Emma Bolland, Gabriel Josipovici, Graham Domke & Kirsty Gunn (Chair)
12.30- 1 Readings and Performances: Elizabeth Reeder, Kirsty Gunn & Gail Low (Cedar Room)
1- 2. Lunch (Music Room)
2- 2.30 Readings and Performances: Gabriel Josipovici & Graham Domke (Drawing Room)
2.30-4.20 Publishing Essays (Panel & discussion, Picture Gallery)
Dan Gunn, Kim Kremer, Alan Taylor, Kenny Taylor & David Graham (Chair)
4.30-5 Coffee break (Study Room)
5-6 Reflections on the day’s work (Picture Gallery)
Daniel Cook, Lorens Childs, Zoe Cassells & Paula Lyttle
6-7 Wine, Readings and Performances (Picture Gallery)
Chris Arthur, Tracy Mackenna & Emma Bolland
7-8 Dinner (Music Room)
8-10.30 Evening entertainments (Music Room)
Music (Nicola Madill) and Ceilidh (Dancing Feet)
9.00 – 10.30 Teaching Essays (Panel & discussion, Picture Gallery)
Peter MacDonald, Elizabeth Reeder, Mary Bovill & Gail Low (Chair)
10.30 -12.30 Essay Writing workshops for schools and delegates
or 10.30 – 11.30 Tour of the house and grounds + Teas/coffee at 11.30
12.30- 1.30 Lunch & closing thanks