Conference 2018

Literary Exhibitions
and Author Museums:
Pasts, Presents and Futures

Sogndal, Norway, 6-7 September 2018

This interdisciplinary conference on “Literary Exhibitions and Author Museums” will bring together leading scholars and practitioners in the field, featuring plenaries by literary scholar and expert on authors’ houses Professor Nicola Watson and ethnologist and previous director of the Strindberg Museum Stefan Bohman.

How might literary exhibitions give us a better understanding, not only of an author’s life, but also the creative process, the role of literature, and indeed the author’s writing? How do literary exhibitions interlink real and literary spaces, texts, objects and readers? How do they use new and innovative mediums of communication, and which “old-fashioned” mediums and display practices are still worth keeping? In an age of cultural diversity, how do literary exhibitions help create new kinds of cultural identity? How can they and how can literature help develop democracy today? Can established author museums learn from other biographical museums, art museums and other cultural history museums, and from their ways of making exhibitions in general? Can author museums challenge what is seen as part of an authors work and what is kept as part of their legacy and of cultural heritage?

Literature and authors’ lives are exhibited in a wide range of contexts, including not only the historical homes of authors, but also author museums, author centres, national literary museums, novel-museums (Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence), national and local libraries, literary parks, and even (in a sense) in bookshops. Authors’ homes in particular have for long been seen as sites of an old-fashioned cult of national heroes, or made only by and for fans. They often attempt to convey a special aura around the space and various objects the author has once owned.

Custodial institutions are responding however to changes both in society and in the way we think about authors, literature and readers, and the relationships between them. At this conference we will be asking how they have been changing since their inceptions, what challenges they face today and how we might imagine them in the future.

The conference will bring together theoretical and hands-on expertise on literature, history, museums and tourism. We invite proposals for paper presentations, workshops/interactive sessions, posters, virtual talks or other formats.

❧ The conference will take place at the Sogndal campus of the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, and is arranged by the Research Council of Norway research project TRAUM – Transforming Author Museums at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, with the University of Oslo as a cooperating partner.

Main programming will begin with registration at 09:00 on Thursday 6 September and ends at 14:00 on Friday 7 September, with a reception and reading on Thursday evening and an excursion on literary tourism to the book village in Fjærland on Friday afternoon. The excursion leaves at 14:00 and returns to Sogndal before 18:00 on Friday 7 September.

❧ Sogndal is situated in the sublime landscape of the Western Norwegian fjords, and can be reached by short plane flights from Bergen or Oslo, or by bus from Oslo (7 hours) or Bergen (4.5 hours), or by boat from Bergen (5 hours). Count on arriving on Wednesday evening or by the very early flight from Oslo on Thursday morning. Book early if you are travelling by plane. Sogndal is within easy reaching distances of various historical stave churches, glaciers, a leading regional outdoor folk museum and picturesque communities with a long history of tourism. Travelling via Oslo, one can also combine the trip with a visit to the Ibsen museum there, or with the poetry festival hosted by the Olav H. Hauge Centre in Ulvik the following weekend.

❧ Hotel rooms for conference participants have been blocked off at Quality Hotel Sogndal until 8 August. If you wish to book a room there, please inform the hotel that you are attending the TRAUM conference. You are free otherwise to reserve accomodation elsewhere.

❧ The deadline for abstracts has passed. If you are giving a panel paper, count on speaking for a maximum of 20 minutes. See also the provisional programme.

❧ For practical enquiries about registrations and payments please contact sog-oppdrag@hvl.no. For questions about the conference itself, please contact Ulrike Spring (ulrike.spring@hvl.no).