Keynote speakers: Leah Marcus (Vanderbilt University), Andrew Taylor (Edith Cowan University) and Thomas Bristow (University of New England).

When: Friday 4 July and Saturday 5 July
Organising committee: Xanthe Ashburner, Dr Victoria Bladen, Dr Ruth Blair, Dr Kerry Heckenberg, Richard Newman, and Dr Judith Seaboyer.
School of English, Media Studies, and Art History, Michie Building,
University of Queensland
St Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland 4066

Please direct inquiries to Dr Judith Seaboyer or Dr Victoria Bladen


Registration details:

The Afterlives of Pastoral Conference Programme

The Afterlives of Pastoral Conference Abstracts

Conference Dinner:
The dinner at St Lucy’s, a restaurant on campus, includes one main course meal plus one drink (e.g. soft drink, house wine/sparkling, local beer, 500ml mineral water or tea/coffee). The current menu is available for download here.

Rooms have been set aside for conference attendees at St Leo's College, on the University of Queensland campus, and at the Jephson Hotel, in nearby Toowong.

St Leo’s College
The college, located on campus and approximately 5-10 minutes walk from the conference venue, offers accommodation ranging from standard rooms with shared bathroom facilities ($75) to private ensuited rooms ($110-$150). To book, please download and complete the application form here.
Contact Details
College Rd, St Lucia Q 4067
t. +61 7 3878 0616

The Jephson Hotel
We have secured a special rate at the Jephson Hotel. It's in a shopping
and restaurants precinct, close to the Brisbane River, and a short bus or ferry ride from the University of Queensland.
The rate for a standard room is $195. The rate for a standard room plus breakfast is $210. Please book directly with the hotel. To ensure you receive the conference rate, place "Afterlives of Pastoral conference booking" in the subject line.
Hotel Address
63 Jephson St. Toowong Q 4066
t. +61 7 3736 4400

Since William Empson published his landmark Some Versions of Pastoral in 1935, the ancient mode that is pastoral has been re-visioned and re-analysed, and a range of scholarly readings has confirmed there is no easy or comfortable way of pinning down just how pastoral operates either in Virgil’s Eclogues or in the literature the poem has inspired since the Renaissance. Annabel Patterson in her Pastoral and Ideology: Virgil to Valéry (1987) focused on why Virgilian pastoral has echoed and continues to echo through western literary history, arguing “it is not what pastoral is that should matter to us”; what is far more useful is to consider “how writers, artists, and intellectuals of all persuasions have used pastoral for a range of functions and intentions that the Eclogues first articulated” (7; emphasis in original). In 1996, pastoral scholar Paul Alpers referred to “a happy confusion of definitions,” and with a linguistic nod to Empson, confirmed “there are as many versions of pastoral as there are critics and scholars who write about it” and that “‘pastoral’ can still be a word to conjure with” (What Is Pastoral? 8).

Over the last twenty-five years, there has been a resurgence of interest not only in the theory and criticism of pastoral but in literature that in various ways is in dialogue with the mode. For instance, Seamus Heaney self-consciously writes back to Virgil, and Stanley Fish has noted telling elements of pastoral in Suzanne Collins’s blockbuster trilogy The Hunger Games (2008–2010). Environmental criticism, too, has found a dialogue with this tradition to be a productive way of thinking about the human/nature relationships in which so many current environmental issues are embedded.

This conference invites a dialogue on the afterlives of pastoral. It is inspired by the recent pastoral turn, by the questioning title of Alpers’s book, and by Patterson’s focus on the pastoral as literature in action. As Alpers reminds us, the pleasures of nymphs and shepherds and their herds are only ever the vehicle for a quite different, darker discourse: “the very notion of pastoral . . . represents a fantasy that is dissipated by the recognition of political and social realities” (24).

In this spirit, the organisers seek participants from a wide range of fields, including literature, the performing arts, music and other forms of cultural discourse that engage with the core of this ancient tradition.


Conference: The Afterlives of Pastoral