School of Arts

Visions of Egypt: Literature and Culture from the Nineteenth Century to the Present

An International and Interdisciplinary Conference

Sphinx image

When: 6-7 September 2013

Venues: History Centre, Hull (6 September) Derwent, University of Hull (7 September)

Keynote Speakers:

  • Dr Sahar El Mougy, Cairo University
  • Professor Joann Fletcher and Dr Stephen Buckley, University of York (to be confirmed)
  • Professor William Hughes, Bath Spa University
  • Professor Roger Luckhurst, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Professor Susan Pearce, University of Leicester

In Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903) an Egyptologist, after relating his part in the appropriation of the mummy of an Egyptian queen and her transportation to Britain, muses whether ‘there be any graves for us who have robbed the grave!’ The text is preoccupied with notions of vision, as male professionals engage in the battle for the control of this Queen, who in the novel’s climactic moment dramatically resists their voyeuristic gaze. Stoker’s novel emerges, of course, at the end of a long period of Europeans looking at and desiring to control Egypt due to its strategic and cultural significance. Such relations are shaped by looking, but to what extent can the gaze itself enable new visions and new forms of cultural interaction and understanding?

In November 2011, new images emerged from Egypt as the country embarked upon a revolution. Pictures from Tahrir Square, which itself dates from the nineteenth century, were projected to the world’s media. How is Egypt’s vision of itself and its external and internal relations developed in art, literature and popular culture? This interdisciplinary two-day conference, taking place at Hull’s History Centre and at the University of Hull, re-examines the idea of the gaze and seeks to find new ways of looking, and to reappraise how cultures view each other, and themselves, beyond traditional colonial and postcolonial frameworks. The comment of Stoker’s fictional Egyptologist is a self-reflexive one and, by looking at himself, he interrogates the notion of looking and what looking can mean.

Conference Topics include:

  • Writings from and on Egypt from the nineteenth century to the present
  • Egyptian-European cultural relations
  • Travel writing and illustration
  • Memoir
  • Art
  • Egyptology
  • Modern and Contemporary
  • Egyptian Fiction
  • Victorian Popular Literature
  • European Literature and Art
  • New media


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