Call for Papers - Historical Fictions Research Network Online Conference (17 to 19 February 2023)
For the 2023 conference, HFRN seeks to engage in scholarly discussions on the significance and function of ‘Values’ in historical fictions:
The ‘noble dream of objectivity’ had been pursued by professional historians since the nineteenth century, when Leopold von Ranke proposed writing history ‘as it really was’. This ideal was also crucial to their profession standing (see Lambert 2003: 42), and though objectivity is now widely assumed to be unattainable, open partisanship is still a problematic stance for professional historians to adopt (see Jordanova 2006: ch 4; Beck 2012).
By contrast, popular and public historiographies in their various forms – historical novels, popular histories, historical film, historical pageants, monuments and museums – are often characterised by a particularly obvious moralising (see Jordanova 2006: ch 6), using the past to explain and justify the present. For instance, as readers will quickly notice, Victorian historical novels usually present men and women that embody the perfect Victorian gentlemen or lady, rather than being true to the gender ideals of the time they are set in. The Netflix-series Bridgerton, which breaks with the mostly all-white casts historical films and television series, attempts to create a utopian past in an attempt to attract viewers with the promise of diversity and equality. Recent historical romance novels have increasingly shown more assertive and independent heroines and caring, nurturing males.
Values of past and present times thus present an important feature in historical fictions, they are used to familiarise the past, to assert or question our own culture and society, they help later generations to explain and shape the future.
Topics covered in the HFRC 2023 may include but are not limited to:
- the function of values and morals in historical fictions
- historical fictions and gender roles past and present
- diversity and inclusivity in historical fictions
- historical fictions, outdated morality and a present-day audience
- objectivity and partisanship in popular historical forms
- the ideal of objectivity in professional historiography
- public historiography and ideals of the nation
- historical fictions and the ideal future
- the ideal of democracy and historical fictions
- ideological uses of the past in historical fictions