Call for Papers: Cultures of Intimacy in the Nineteenth Century. Belfast, 26-27 April 2019

The nineteenth century has been labelled as the ‘century of intimacy’ [Diaz and Diaz 2009]. While during the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries the term referred to a close relationship, ‘intimacy’ later adopted a broader meaning. During the nineteenth century, its definition shifted from a scientific and philosophical meaning (the essence of a thing) to an individual and psychological perspective (what is inside us).

The word gained popularity towards the second half of the nineteenth century, even becoming an added value for marketing various literary products. An abundant discourse on and a widespread interest in what were considered intimate matters (sexuality, families, households, etc.) were characteristic of the time. These phenomena point to the concept’s relevance for both the private and the public sphere. Also important is the paradox of intimacy, which both refers to something considered private, and, at the same time, that which is often intended to be disclosed. It was the nineteenth century that paved the way for the concept to acquire its multiple and complex meanings, leading to our present-day understanding that to share intimate details of our lives with an extended audience is not to be perceived as a contradiction.

In the critical discourse on modernity public space has, until recently, been privileged over private space. The concept of intimacy, however, understood as a crucial need that is associated with individuals rather than with a given space or content, gives us the possibility to discard the division between private and public in order to focus on interactions, reciprocities and continuities between these spheres. It allows us to challenge the binaries underlying the traditional understanding of modernity: male/female, public/private, pictorial/decorative, active/passive, heroism/housework, as well as the ‘separate spheres’ discourse that underpins it.

This bilingual (French and English), multidisciplinary conference seeks to bring together a group of international specialists to discuss this timely theme.

The conference organizers invite proposals and panels (in French or English) that reflect on intimacy in the long nineteenth century (c. 1830 to 1910) from a variety of disciplines (including art history, sociology, literature and architecture).

Topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Intimate writings (letters, diaries, journals etc.)
  • Intimacy in literature
  • Visual representations of intimacy
  • Houses/homes
  • Hygienist theories
  • the representation of interiors
  • Domestic architecture and interior decoration
  • Exhibition practices and intimate surroundings
  • Artists’ homes or studios
  • ‘Separate spheres’ discourse
  • Families in art and literature
  • Sexuality in art and literature
  • Class and gender perspectives
  • Intimate modernism
  • Author, artist or architect-focused topics
  • Regional/national-focused topics

Please send a 200-word proposal, together with a 1-page c.v.  to Apolline Malevez a.malevez@qub.ac.uk by the 7 January 2019.

A peer-reviewed publication of selected papers from the conference with an International press/journal is anticipated.

Conference Organisers: Claire Moran, Senior Lecturer in French, Queen’s University, Belfast; Apolline Malevez, Marie Curie researcher and PhD candidate Queen’s University, Belfast.

Invited Speakers: Dominique Bauer (KU Leuven) and Monique Eleb (’École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Paris-Malaquais).

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