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About the conference image

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2541-P-S-Brandes-Der-AngstlustbaumDer Angstlustbaum, Stephen Brandes, 2005, Crawford Gallery, Cork


Born in Wolverhampton, Stephen Brandes has lived and worked in Cork since moving to Ireland in 1993. His complex and detailed ink drawing Der Angstlustbaum, is inspired by a wide range of cultural references, including Charles Darwin´s “Tree of Evolution”, but the term, (not a recognized German word, but an invented word translating roughly as “anxiety driven tree”) also features in a quote from the band “The Fall”. The inspiration for this drawing, and other works by Brandes, stems partly from a visual diary the artist made in 1999 when he retraced his grandmother’s 1903 journey through Europe, when she fled pogroms and persecution in Romania. Brandes´ work has developed into a series of elaborate visual fictions, interweaving this family history with his own experience and invention. His work is infused with often, dark humour and is influenced by European fairytales, graphic novels and underground comics.

Recent solo exhibitions by Brandes include “Chutsparadiso” at the West Cork Arts Centre in 2007; “Travelogue” at the Rubicon Gallery in 2005, ‘Ways of Escape´, at Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin, in 2004. Brandes represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Brandes has also worked as a curator of independent art projects, notably Superbia (2003) and Superbia 2 (2005).

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The first conference

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In case it helps to situate the conference being planned for June 2014 in Cork, and you were not at the 2010 event in Limerick, here is that Call for Papers:

Ireland and Ecocriticism: An Interdisciplinary Conference, 18-19 June 2010 
Maureen O'Connor, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Ireland is a land of pastoral greenery, but its landscape is an arguably 'unnatural' construct, a topography
shaped by a history of conflict and suffering. Gerry Smyth asserted in 2000 that 'Irish Studies and ecocriticism ... have a lot to say to each other', yet
despite the centrality of the land to Irish identity at home and abroad,ecocriticism remains largely absent from Irish Studies in Ireland. One
explanation for reluctance to engage with this theoretical practice may be the long history of the country's conflicted, traumatized relation to the land, its
often reductive figuration as 'nature', and one aim of this conference will be to examine this critical recalcitrance, when the land and the landscape feature
in a vast range of cultural productions in Ireland, from folklore and music, to poetry and painting. The longstanding tension in Western society between
'nature' and 'culture' has unique implications for the social and political framing of the natural world in an Irish context. This fraught and complicated
relationship urgently requires interrogation in an age of rapid climate change, when, for example, a country as wet as Ireland faces a water crisis. Proposals
are welcome from across the disciplines, including environmental studies, anthropology, journalism, migration studies, history, geography, urban planning, music, 
literary studies, art history, folklore studies, archaeology, education, architecture, women's studies, philosophy, theology, culturalstudies, sociology, film 
and media studies, and colonial/postcolonial studies.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

Plantation and settlement
Irish ecofeminism
The simianised Irish, Paddy's pig, and animal rights
Folklore and fairytales
Traditional music
Irish-language texts-the nature of translation, translating nature
Meat-eating and national identity
'Oriental' Ireland and theosophy
Colonial/postcolonial perspectives on representations of the natural
Agrarian movements and utopian communities
Ruins and landscape
Landscape and national character
Gendering the landscape
The 'Celtic Tiger', late capital, and the death of nature
Tourism and the heritage industry
The visual arts, past and present
The Catholic Church and the 'natural'
Diaspora and nostalgia
Landscape-based worship: holy wells, patterns, and pilgrimages