Uplandish: New Perspectives on Northern England’s ‘Wild’ Places (30th June 2017)

Alexander Beaumont's picture
Call for Papers
March 31, 2017
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Geography, Humanities, Literature

Uplandish: New Perspectives on Northern England’s ‘Wild’ Places

York St John University, UK, 30th June 2017

Deadline for submissions: 31st March 2017


Keynote Address: Dr David Higgins (University of Leeds, UK): ‘Mythologising Malhamdale: Englishness, Sublimity, and Tourism from Wordsworth to The Trip

Writers in Conversation: David Constantine and A.J. Ashworth: ‘Writing and Rewriting the Pennine Moors: Beyond the Brontës’


Few places in England are as closely associated with wilderness as the moors and fells north of the River Trent. Yet the iconography of this region occupies a central place in the country’s cultural geography, as attested by the many tourists who tramp across ‘Lakeland’ and ‘Brontë Country’ each year. This conference seeks to interrogate the mythologies of England’s northern uplands and to understand the ideological processes that have allowed its material reproduction, many of its less flattering significations and perhaps some of its political potential to remain hidden. The concept of ‘wilderness’ is currently being subjected to critique within and beyond the academy, in works by popular writers such as George Monbiot (Feral) and William Atkins (The Moor), as well as scholars working at the forefront of ecocriticism and literary geography. Building upon such work, this conference will reexamine the supposedly wild places of ‘the North’, their significance to culturally-bound understandings of Englishness, and their role in the production of British state ideology, with a more critical eye than has hitherto been the case.

This interdisciplinary conference is open to scholars working in English Literature, Cultural Studies, Creative Writing, Art History, Fine Art, Photography, Film Studies, Media Studies, Critical Heritage Studies, Geography, Politics and Sociology. Interventions other than traditional academic papers – e.g. short films, photography, artwork and readings – are welcome. Speakers will be allowed fifteen minutes to present on subjects that might include, but are not limited to:

  • The legacies of Romanticism
  • The role of historic representations in shaping contemporary attitudes to the northern uplands (e.g. the Brontës, Basil Bunting, W.H. Auden, Ted Hughes)
  • Contemporary representations of moorland and fells (e.g. David Peace, Sarah Hall)
  • The pastoral, beautiful and sublime
  • The development and contemporary impact of literary tourism (e.g. Dove Cottage, the Brontë Parsonage Museum)
  • Intersections between gender, race, religion and constructions of northern ‘wilderness’ in contemporary film and literature (e.g. Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights; Daniel Wolfe’s Catch Me Daddy; Caryl Phillips’s The Lost Child)
  • Moorland as threat, archive and tomb (e.g. the legacy of the Moors Murders)
  • Northern uplands and the ‘new nature writing’ (e.g. William Atkins’s The Moor)
  • Uplands in the literature of the South Pennines (e.g. Hilary Mantel, Sally Wainwright, Sunjeev Sahota)
  • Ecocritical perspectives on ‘wilderness’
  • The culture, politics and economics of extraction (mining, quarrying etc.)
  • Moorland as ruin and wasteland
  • Patterns of land ownership, agricultural development, gentrification and rural tourism
  • Territories of conservation (national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, the green belt)
  • Biodiversity and rewilding
  • The consequences of enclosure north of the River Trent
  • Border country and Anglo-Scottish relations
  • The uplands and the ‘northern powerhouse’ (e.g. industrial heritage and archaeology, agglomeration economics, modern commuting patterns)
  • The role of physical geography in the construction of ‘the North’
  • Legacies of the Kinder Scout Trespass (e.g. the ‘right to roam’, the development of the Pennine Way)

Please submit a 350-word abstract and 150-word biography to uplandishconference2017@gmail.com by Friday 31st March 2017.

Contact Info: 

Dr Alexander Beaumont

York St John University

Lord Mayor's Walk

York, UK

YO31 7EX