27-28 June 2014
The University of Western Australia

Bringing together leading scholars in medieval, early modern and early nineteenth-century studies, ‘In Form of War’ will investigate not only how feeling is represented in the written production of war, but also how the emotional experience and account of violent conflict has figured more broadly in European and New World consciousness to 1820. In examining the many forms of war writing – including literary fictions, treatises, personal letters, war correspondence and practical documents – the symposium will seek both to capture the ‘long view’ of conflict and to chart its textual terrain, tracing contours and finding lines of intersection and influence.

Emotional styles might change over the course of history, but war endures as a structuring feature of individual and collective feeling. The symposium will raise questions such as: How does writing mediate the bodily and psychic dimensions of war experience? How might emergent forms of writing – the chronicle, diary, novel, or newspaper – shape the emotional language and experience of war in different epochs? What might mundane military forms like orders, despatches and petitions tell us about soldiers’ emotions? Is there a poetics of warfare? In what ways have successive ages adjusted the balance between emotional representations of war and moral, ethical or political treatments? How have writers related the emotional experience of war to a historical or theoretical understanding of its causes and effects?

‘In Form of War’ will discuss: representations of the emotional experience of combatants, civilians and spectators; literature dealing with specific wars and conflicts; textual production which adapts war themes for particular emotional effects, including propaganda; studies of generic, historiographical and artistic traditions in war writing; and studies that reflect on the historical, philosophical and thematic frameworks in which war writing is emotionally constructed.