'Borders and Boundaries'

Classics at Leeds would like to thank all speakers and delegates who participated in the 7th Annual Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Conference held on 20th June 2016 at the University of Leeds.

Borders and Boundaries marked the 7th Annual Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Conference hosted by research postgraduates based in Classics at Leeds. The conference continued to build on the successes of previous years, once again attracting a high volume of speakers and delegates from across fields of study and institutions.

The organising committee continued to pursue an interdisciplinary and international approach with their choice of conference theme, encouraging wide-ranging discussions on the multifaceted theme of 'Borders and Boundaries'. Recent events have provoked much debate on the transgression of geographical borders and the impact this has on the lived experiences of the global community. These issues raise various questions including how we define boundaries, be they geographical, social, cultural or psychological and what happens when these boundaries are broken.

With a total of 34 papers accepted, the conference was packed with papers approaching these issues from a range of angles. Boundaries between the human and the divine were considered in one of the first panels of the day, alongside a panel concentrating on the construction of boundaries in ancient regions, classical literature and modern theatre. Other speakers approached the use of rivers, water sources, mountains and other landscape features as boundaries.

There were also wide-ranging discussions on boundaries in modern ideological debates, and the ideology of 'self' and 'other' in the Greco-Roman world, the crusades, political theory, and by ancient geographers. Intertextuality was a central topic of discussion for several panels and papers in both ancient and modern literary works. As well as a panel exploring the transgression of boundaries in literature, philosophy and myth, a group of speakers also discussed concepts of memory and openness.

Speakers and delegates were welcomed from several universities within the UK, including Cambridge, Glasgow, Manchester, Nottingham, Open University, Oxford, Royal Holloway, St Andrews, Warwick, and York. We were also able to welcome international speakers from Universität Hamburg (Germany), the University of Ioannina (Greece), Università Ca' Foscari Venezia and Fondazione collegio San Carlo (Italy), the University of Groningen (Netherlands), King Abdulaziz University (Saudi Arabia), and Universidad de Salamanca (Spain).

Dr Ingrid Sharp, Graduate Studies Director:

"I was delighted to see such a professionally organised, wide-ranging and interdisciplinary conference attracting so many visitors to Leeds. It was great to see so many members of staff involved alongside the Research Postgraduates who organised the event." 

Dr Regine May, Programme Manager for Classics at Leeds:

"I am impressed with the quality and range of papers, which covered not only classical issues in depth, but also reached out to related disciplines, to make this a very relevant and important event."

Sophie Raudnitz, Open University:

"Coming as it did in the week of the EU Referendum when our national borders were under such intense political scrutiny, this interdisciplinary conference on Borders and Boundaries was highly topical and hugely interesting. The diversity of borders discussed was thought provoking and inspiring, and the high standard of both speakers and chairs meant that the boundaries of time were respected and the day ran admirably smoothly."

Natalie Enright, Chair of the Conference Organising Committee:

"It was great to have such a positive response to the conference theme from across disciplines and internationally, which resulted in a wonderfully diverse programme. I particularly liked the clear thematic similarities arising across disciplines, which allowed our panels to be hugely varied in content. It was a really enjoyable day that ran very smoothly due to the efforts of the whole organising committee."

We were also delighted to welcome two keynotes speakers from the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies. Dr Ingrid Sharp (Senior Lecturer in German; Director of German, Russian and Slavonic Studies) opened the conference with a paper on Crossing Gender Boundaries: Expressions of Feminist Rage in German Crime Fiction. Dr Emma Stafford (Senior Lecturer in Classics) launched the afternoon panels with her paper Thinking about Impact, which included some invaluable advice for postgraduate researchers wishing to demonstrate impact through their research and in future job applications.

This year's conference was generously funded by the LEAP Researcher Training Hub and the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies.

Special thanks must go to Natalie Enright, who chaired the organising committee, and also to the rest of the conference organising team, Maria Haley, Henry Clarke, Leonardo Costantini, Anna Reeve, Andrea Basso, Tim McConnell, Devon Allen, Elinor Cosgrave, Anthi Chrysanthou, and Ben Chwistek.

The official conference Twitter hashtag #LeedsBound16 proved particularly popular on the day and has been published through Storify

For the full conference programme, abstracts of the papers, and further information about the conference, please visit our conference blog.

Follow us on Twitter: @LeedsClassics