About the conference

Topographies: places to find something is an interdisciplinary conference (which places equal importance on papers from scholars and postgraduates) that explores the human relationship to geographical space and the geography of human experience. Not only do maps show us the physical contours of space, they also show us figurative, narrative, dramatic, psychological, virtual, dream and temporal spaces.

This conference will welcome papers that examine topography as a series of ‘places to find something’, and explore the difficulties of using the term ‘topography’ in an interdisciplinary context.

The conference is organised by two of the co-convenors from the Literary and Visual Landscapes Seminar Series (LVL), Emily Derbyshire and Andrew Giles. This conference blurs the boundary between academic rigour and poetry, and will combine poetry readings at the Watershed in Bristol on the evening of the 14th May. All welcome. See below for more details.



We are very pleased to have Professor Wai Chee Dimock, William Lampson Professor of American & English Literature at Yale University as our plenary speaker. Dimock has written on every period of American literature, from Anne Bradstreet to Star Trek.  She also writes movie reviews for the Los Angeles Review of Books.  She argues for a broad conception of American literature, embracing a variety of time frames, bringing together materials both high and low, and scales both local and global.  Her work has appeared in publications ranging from Critical Inquiry to Salon. Dimock’s book, Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time (2006), received Honorable Mention for the James Russell Lowell Prize of the Modern Language Association and the Harry Levin Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association.  This approach is further developed in a collaborative volume, Shades of the Planet: American Literature as World Literature (2007).


Our keynote speakers are Professor Andrew Ginger, Chair in Iberian and Latin American Studies at Bristol University, and Professor Robert Vilain, Professor of German & Head of the School of Modern Languages, also at Bristol University.



Andrew Ginger‘s research aims to reshape our understanding of the place of Hispanic culture in the modern world. His work is based on interdisciplinary sources from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. His research has reintegrated experimental art and literature of the nineteenth century into the canon, and revalued left liberal, republican, and applied thought. Professor Ginger presently has a particular interest in Atlantic and deep time approaches to culture





Robert Vilain specializes in German, Austrian, French and Comparative Literature in the 19th and early 20th centuries, with a special interest in lyric poetry. He has published widely on authors such as Hofmannsthal, George, Rilke, Yvan and Claire Goll, Thomas Mann, on Franco-German literary relations, detective fiction and the relationship of literature and music. Since September 2013 he has been Germanic Editor of Modern Language Review, having formerly acted as joint editor of the journal Austrian Studies from 2003 to 2011. He is also Series Editor for “Studies in Modern German and Austrian Literature” published by Peter Lang. He regularly reviews for the TLS as well as for academic journals.



We are excited to welcome a wealth of poetic and film-making talent (and indeed, the meeting of the two, based on a discussion of filmpoems), both within and outside of academia:



Niall Campbell is a Scottish poet originally from South Uist in the Western Isles. He received an Eric Gregory Award (2011) and a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship (2011). Niall also won the Poetry London Competition in 2013.  His first pamphlet, After the Creel Fleet, was released in 2012 by Happenstance Press. Moontide, his first collection, is published by Bloodaxe and is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. He won the prestigious Edwin Morgan Poetry Award in 2014.




holly-corfield-carrHolly Corfield Carr is a writer and artist based in Bristol, UK. Holly received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2012 and in 2013 she worked as Writer-in-Residence at Spike Island in Bristol, supported by Arts Council England. Holly is Poet-in-Residence at the Bristol Poetry Institute at the University of Bristol. She is currently developing new projects for performance and publication, with support from Clare Pollard and the Jerwood / Arvon Mentoring Scheme 2014/15, as well as the Faber New Poets scheme.  The first of these is MINE, a site-specific sequence of poems that was performed in Goldney Grotto, an 18th-century crystal cave in central Bristol, as part of the Bristol Biennial in September 2014.


Tony Willitony-williams-northumbria-universityams was born and brought up in Derbyshire, and studied philosophy at Cambridge and creative writing at Sheffield Hallam University. He writes poetry and prose fiction. His first collection of poems, The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street (Salt, 2009), was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, the Portico Prize for Literature and the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. The sonnet sequence All the Rooms of Uncle’s Head (Nine Arches Press, 2011) was the Poetry Book Society’s Pamphlet Choice for Winter 2011. His flash fiction collection All the Bananas I’ve Never Eaten (Salt, 2012) won Best Short Story Collection in the 2013 Saboteur Awards



Alan FeAlan-Fentiman-2014ntiman is a filmmaker based in Alnwick, Northumberland. He has worked with The BBC, Channel 4, The Tate Modern, Converse and Condé Naste. In recent years he has specialised in documenting arts projects in the North-East, working with organisations including The Baltic, The Sage, Durham Brass Festival, Berwick Visual Arts, Modular, Festival of The North East, GIFT, The Bowes Museum, Alnwick Playhouse, Shimmer, The DLI & Great North Run Culture. His documentaries have covered the development of large-scale festival commissions, public art installations, artist exhibitions, writers, poets, composers, makers, festivals, theatre projects and galleries. He also produces music videos and writes and produces my own films. He recently finished a documentary about young people and a short film commission for Channel 4 broadcast in early 2014.


You can watch Tony & Alan’s short film ‘Roam to Write’ here.




Conference supported by:












School of Modern Languages

Department of English


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