IAUPE Triennial Conference
Senate House, University of London, England (July 2016)
The 23rd triennial conference, held in Bloomsbury at Senate House, was managed with the assistance of eighteen section chairs and another twenty co-chairs, who extended calls for papers and selected a stimulating programme for members. Nearly 170 presenters gave and heard papers, participated in meal-time discussions over lunch and dinner, and enjoyed receptions organized by Jane Roberts at the Institute of English Studies with the help of colleagues from the widespread University of London (King’s, Royal Holloway, Queen Mary, Birkbeck, Goldsmith’s, and University College). Aside from the expected sessions on Old, Middle, Renaissance, Eighteenth-Century, Romantic, Victorian, and Modern English as well as American Literatures, we enjoyed talks on Digital Humanities, Lexical Semanitics, and the special sessions on English Literary Studies in Central Europe and The First World War; Then and Now: Literature, Theatre, and the Arts; and English Studies in Eastern Europe. Each full day of panels also featured outstanding plenary speakers, Helen Cooper, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Martin Halliwell.
Given the site was central London, many of our members chose their own special ‘tour’ of favourite places to visit at mid-week, but a formal excursion took less frequent visitors on a day trip to Windsor and Bath. The final Shakespeare session moved us to Lambeth Palace for a tour of the library, followed by WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT SHAKESPEARE 400 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH, chaired by Grace Ioppolo, with talks by Lena Orlin and Sir Brian Vickers. The evening ended with a crowded reception, before we all returned to central London. This event and the final banquet were exceptional, and we all look forward to the next conference in Poznań, Poland, in 2019. IAUPE congratulates the London committee for their success in bringing about a conference of such breadth and invigorating discussion.
Helen Ostovich, McMaster University
IAUPE Triennial Conference
Tsinghua University, Beijing, China (July 2013)
“When that Aprill with his shoures sote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendered is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heath…” (ll. 1-6)
“Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, couthe in soundry londes;” (ll. 12- 14)
So says the poet Geoffrey Chaucer in his well-known prologue to The Canterbury Tales. It was not in April, but in July, a month of scholarly pilgrimages favored by contemporary “pilgrims,” that we convened in Beijing to participate in the 22nd triennial IAUPE conference. At the conference in Malta (2010) two universities from Beijing had put forward the proposals for the organization of the 2013 event and so they consolidated their efforts to organize a splendid event. Beijing Foreign Studies University took care of the Medieval Symposium which always precedes the main conference and Tsinghua University prepared the main conference.
At the opening ceremony to the main conference, Presidents professor Li Cao (Tsinghua University) and professor Li Jin (Beijing Foreign Studies University) stressed the importance of building bridges across cultures and countries. The program of the conference indeed testified to their wish. The sessions covered a wide range of topics from Old and Middle English language and literature to contemporary English, American and postcolonial literatures in English as well as the latest trends in English linguistics. The idea of building bridges was also a dominant motif of the plenary speakers. Both Christopher Ricks from Boston University (USA) and Heh-Hsian Yuan from Soochow University (Taipei) stressed the importance of joining literary studies and humanities. The other two plenary speakers, Dana Gioia from the University of Southern California (USA) and Quifang Wen from Beijing Foreign Studies University (China), respectively, discussed “poetry as enchantment” and highlighted the importance of language as a means of communication.
At IAUPE conferences, it is always difficult to decide which sessions one should attend, as the alternative is between very good and excellent. It is a sheer pleasure to discuss academic subjects we are all enthusiastic about. Yet, listening to professors of English from all over the world presenting their research can also be a humbling experience, reminding us not only of what we know, but what we do not yet know. The virtue of scholarly humility, however, can truly be cherished in the best possible company.
The excellent sessions were interspersed with sightseeing tours to the Summer Palace, The Forbidden City and The Great Wall. Participants were treated to a Chinese opera, fine food and a superb organization of all events. Indeed, we all felt very well taken care of.
The cultural experience of IAUPE meetings is one of its greatest assets. If travel does broaden the mind, it is as important as the scholarly events. My own fascination with China originated through the reading of Marina Warner’s In the Dark Wood (1977) and her biography of Tz’u–hsi (1972) as well as our discussions of Marina’s Chinese experiences, but also through my correspondence with a British Guianese writer, David Dabydeen, the Guianese Ambassador to China since 2011. These experiences can change our perception of countries and people, and are usually shared not only with our loved ones and friends, but also our students, as to most of us the veni et vidi is certainly more important than the vici.
Liliana Sikorska, Poznan
IAUPE Triennial Conference
University of Malta, Msida, Malta (July 2010)
The 21st triennial conference of IAUPE was held in Malta, at the University of Malta, during the week beginning 19 July 2010. It was organized by Professor Peter Vassallo, of the English Department of the University, President of IAUPE 2007-10.
Eighteen sections were on offer relating to English Language, Linguistics and Literature, and papers were given by professors hailing from many parts of the world. The plenary session was graced by the presence of two distinguished scholars, John Carey, Merton Professor of English at Oxford University, and Dame Gillian Beer, King Edward VII Professor Emeritus at Cambridge University. Leisure activities included cultural excursions to Valletta and various historic monuments on the islands of Malta and Gozo.