International Conference, 21-23 August 2013, University of Helsinki

The conference Imagined Worlds will focus on the imagined worlds created by artistic and literary works. To think of such works in terms of “worlds” (or the mental representations they create in the minds of their audience) means concentrating on the representational dimensions of art and literature.

The idea of worldmaking opens new perspectives in the study of art forms and their genres. It was formulated in philosophical terms by Nelson Goodman in Ways of Worldmaking (1978). His approach encompassed a broad spectrum of worldmaking across all art forms, sciences and cultural discourses and emphasized the idea that we create worlds on the basis of already existing ones. Worlds are built from the world(s) of our experience and cultural models or from already existing imagined worlds through various types of transformations.

Recent studies in cognitive narratology where questions related to how readers build up story worlds have opened a new field of study which can also function as a starting point for broader visions of the cultural imagining of worlds: “mapping words onto worlds” to make sense of textual worlds can be more broadly understood as mapping signs onto worlds. Like texts, art and images do not merely mirror the world but also investigate ways of worldmaking.

Worldmaking also relates to the ideas of the works of art and literature we embrace. Asking the question “When is art?” permits one to see different anachronisms and the messy temporalities of images. How an object or event functions as a work of art can explain how it may contribute to a vision and to the making of a world.

Imagined Worlds explores all of the various dimensions whose interplay accounts for the nature of the worlds rendered through art and literature and their genre-specific and historical manifestations.

The conference addresses following themes:

  • Worldmaking and Genres
  • Worldmaking and Reception
  • Spatial and Temporal Aspects of Imagined Worlds
  • Reality-Effects or Fantasy: How Imagined Worlds Negociate their Relationship to the Actual World.

Deadline for abstracts: expired in January 2013.

We received around 100 abstracts and will not accept any more under consideration.

Please note that the letters of invitation are only available to conference speakers after the conference fee has been received.

No bursaries are available.

Please note that due to the summer holidays we will not be able to answer emails in the period 26.6.-30.7.2013!

Conference Organizers

The Finnish Doctoral Programme in Art History

The Finnish Doctoral Programme for Literary Studies





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