Call for Papers – Landscape: Interpretations, Relations, and Representations

On 26 and 27 January 2017, the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society will be hosting an international graduate conference. A selection of researchers and artists will be invited to participate in panels, in which their 20 minute papers and creative work will be discussed. Participants should currently be undertaking a PhD. When submitting a proposal for a paper presentation or a work of art, please make sure to include a short biography.

The title of the conference, “Landscape: Interpretations, Relations, and Representations,” has been chosen in order to explore landscape in the broadest sense. When analysed as a theoretical concept, landscape evokes strong spatial connotations and vivid imagery by means of our perceptions of the world. However, as the world undergoes impactful developments – often discussed with buzzwords such as industrialisation, globalisation and digitisation – the very notion of what is, arranges, informs, and changes a landscape has altered in accordance with these dynamic processes. Our conference will interrogate ways in which to analyse shifts in conception and approach throughout history. Participants are invited to critically explore and reflect on cultural artefacts and practices that project, trace, or confront these processes through the concept, genre, or medium of landscape. By seeking to gather an interdisciplinary and intercultural selection of academic papers and works of art, we aim to encourage an open dialogue among a unique mix of artists and researchers.

Presentations should reflect one, or more, of the following themes:

1) Landscape aesthetics:

Throughout time, humans have laboriously and effectively incorporated, appropriated, and envisaged material and immaterial concepts of landscape in order to express aesthetic modes and practices. This includes, for example, the symbolic language of the European Middle Ages where landscape was an expression of divine order and human humility, and also the current debate on environmental pollution, which has arguably generated a whole new eco-aesthetics of landscape. This subtheme of the LUCAS Conference invites participants to explore the realm of aesthetics with regard to landscapes by posing two key questions: A) How have landscape representations figured in the arts as ways of knowing, engaging, communicating with, and finally, appropriating the world through perception? B) Which affective and performative processes and objects have been borne out of, and operate because of these figurations?

  • The onset, developments, and limitations of landscape as an aesthetic concept
  • The aesthetics of pollution
  • Land art and landscaping
  • Landscapes between reality and fiction
  • The affective registers of landscape
  • Landscape aesthetics in the Anthropocene
  • Corporeal engagements with landscape
  • Exchanges between the sciences, the arts, and landscape

2) Landscape and identities:

As an expression of the complicated entanglement between ourselves and our environments, landscapes inform and shape many perceptions and relations within the world. Over time, the way we have perceived our physical environment has undergone immense changes. The second subtheme, therefore, seeks to reflect on the idea of landscape as a projection screen for power and identity in different times and places. Papers and presentations should be centred around modes of transition, mediality, and experiencing of landscapes, and the ways they hamper, perpetuate, or stimulate human interaction within and with the environment.

  • Landscape and embodiment
  • Landscape and subjectivity
  • Landscape and knowledge
  • Landscape and power
  • Identities and territories (human and non-human)
  • Hybrid landscapes
  • Ekphrasis

3) Mnemonic and digital realms of landscape: 

The third subtheme of the LUCAS Conference aims to provide a platform for discussion of the wide spectrum of landscapes, from souvenirs to cyberspace. Cyberscapes and memoryscapes have an expanding influence on knowledge production, circulation, and consumption. For instance, over the last decade, video games have increasingly gained visibility as interactive spaces which stage and negotiate fantasy narratives through aesthetic registers of digital landscapes. Increasingly complex landscapes mapped with Web 2.0, for example, and advances in memory technologies introduce new conversations and new approaches towards the very concept of landscape.

  • Digital and virtual landscapes
  • Landscapes in games
  • Memoryscapes
  • Landscape objects: the mnemonic function of souvenirs/photographs, for example in the contexts of tourism or pilgrimage
  • Digital research tools for mapping spatial relations

Ultimately, the LUCAS Graduate Conference aims to reflect the institute’s interdisciplinary and international character. As such, the two-day conference will provide a platform for PhD students in the humanities, from Leiden as well as other universities in the Netherlands and abroad, to present and exchange their ideas.


Two internationally renowned scholars, Professor W.J.T. Mitchell and Professor D.E. Nye will give keynote lectures during the conference:

Prof. W.J.T. Mitchell is Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago, where he also served as Chair of the English Department from 1988 to 1991. He has been the editor of Critical Inquiry since 1978 and contributes to the journal October. His books include the influential works Iconology (Chicago, 1986), Picture Theory (Chicago, 1994), Landscape and Power (Chicago, 1994) and What Do Pictures Want? (Chicago, 2005) for which he received the MLA’s 2006 James Russell Lowell Prize in Language and Literature. His latest book is Image Science: Iconology, Media Aesthetics, and Visual Culture (Chicago, 2015).

Prof. D.E. Nye is Professor of American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark. He is the only person who has won all three of the highest awards given by the Society for the History of Technology: The Dexter Book Prize (1993), The Sally Hacker Book Prize (2009), and the Leonard da Vinci Medal (2005). His works include American Technological Sublime (MIT Press, 1994), Narratives and Spaces (New York, 1997), Technologies of Landscape: Reaping to Recycling (Massachusetts, 2000) and The Anti-Landscape (Amsterdam, 2014). He has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize twice.


Please send your proposal (max. 300 words) outlining a 20-minute paper along with a brief bio (max. 150 words) before 1 October, 2016 to will be notified whether or not your paper has been selected by 1 November, 2016. Should you have any question regarding the conference and/or the proposal, please do not hesitate to contact the organising committee at the same email address. The conference website can be found here:

The LUCAS Graduate Conference welcomes papers from all disciplines within the humanities. A selection of papers will be published as conference proceedings in the Journal of the LUCAS Graduate Conference: For those who attend the conference, there will be a registration fee of €50 to cover the costs of lunches, coffee breaks, excursions and other conference materials. Unfortunately, we cannot offer financial support for travel or accommodation expenses.

The organising committee:

Praveen Sewgobind,  Lieke Smits, Tecia Vailati and Anna Volkmar

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