Calls for Papers

Personality Cults of Modern Dictators

Institute for Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London, UK
22-23 October 2010
Submit offers of papers by 1 June 2010

Almost all modern dictators are the subject of personality cults that are highly organised even if they often also rest on spontaneous contributions. By creating a narrative of exceptionality around an individual they harness support and help consolidate a regime. The forms cults take depend on national traditions and histories, patterns of gender relations, and the existence or otherwise of an articulated civil society. In this sense, they are cultural as much as political phenomena. The highly specific nature of each cult means that comparative work is rare. The aim of this conference is to compare different aspects of many cults of personality, and, by so doing, to raise new hypotheses of research and lay the foundations for new potential interdisciplinary collaborations.

Keynote addresses will be delivered on some of the key precursors of twentieth century dictators: Maria Wyke (UCL) on Julius Caesar and his legacies, Sudhir Hazareesingh (Balliol College, Oxford) on the legend of Napoleon, and Lucy Riall (Birkbeck College, London) on Garibaldi.

This conference will be held as the final event of the AHRC research project ‘The Cult of the Duce: Mussolini and the Italians 1918 – 2005’.

Among the themes that will be explored at the conference are the following:

Dictators and their publics
Dictators, architecture and the visual arts
Dictators and the mass media
Life and death narratives of dictators
Dictators’ bodies and private lives
Masculinity and dictatorship
Dictators and religion
Dictators’ costumes
Dictators in popular memory
Dictators in film and literature
Dictators, power and constitutions

Proposals for papers of twenty minutes are invited on European, Central and South American, African, Middle Eastern, and Asian dictators. Contributions are welcomed from historians, political scientists, sociologists, specialists in film, literature, photography and the press, as well as scholars with an interest in gender, performance and leadership. Papers may treat aspects of one or more personality cults.

Proposals should be between 300 and 500 words long and should indicate the institution of the speaker and his or her academic position (eg. Professor, Lecturer, PhD candidate etc.).

The programme of the conference will be published in July 2010. The conference fee, payable by all speakers and attendees, will be £40 for one day and £70 for two days.

Prof Stephen Gundle
Milburn House
Warwick University
Coventry CV4 7AL

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