2023 IAUPE Conference

Rome Campus, Australian Catholic University - July 2023

The 25th IAUPE triennial conference took place in Rome, Italy, in July 2023, having been delayed for one year because of the COVID pandemic. It was organized by the Conference Planning Committee: Paul Giles (Australian Catholic University), Will Christie (Australian National University), Philip Mead (University of Western Australia and the University of Melbourne) and Stefania Nuccorini (Universita degli studi Roma Tre), with Jason Smeaton (ACU) serving as Conference Coordinator. The venue was split between the Rome campus of Australian Catholic University and Hotel Ripa in the city’s Trastevere district.

Excellent plenary lectures were delivered by James Simpson (Harvard) on how thinking in the humanities is more a matter of recovery than discovery; by Jette Hansen Edwards (Chinese University of Hong Kong), on the impact of colonization and globalization on the emergence of English as a “glocal” language; and by Richard Ovenden (Bodleian Library, Oxford) on the value that libraries and archives bring to society through their role in protecting knowledge. In addition, Philip Mead (University of Western Australia/University of Melbourne) held a conversation by Zoom with the celebrated Indigenous Australian novelist, Alexis Wright.

As is customary, the conference was preceded by a Medieval Symposium, convened on this occasion by Helen Fulton (University of Bristol), Daniel Anlezark (University of Sydney) and Lawrence Warner (King’s College, London). The main conference was organized around sixteen sections devoted to panels ranging across a broad variety of topics in literary history, language and theory, and it also included a plenary panel of “The Future of English Studies,” chaired by Regenia Gagnier (University of Exeter).

The conference was fortunate to avoid the most intense week of Rome’s July heatwave, and it offered several social occasions for delegates to enjoy. Dr. Claudio Betti, director of ACU’s Rome campus, led a guided tour to Saint Basilica di Trastevere, the oldest Christian church in Rome, and to the former Carmelite Monastery of Sant’Egidio. There was also an informative walking tour of Capitol Hill and the Colosseum led by Giorgio Guardi, who similarly organized a coach trip to Villa Adriana at Tivoli, just outside Rome, the day after the conference. Thanks to the generosity of Francesca Condo, delegates also had the opportunity to visit the house of former IAUPE president Mario Praz, which has now been turned into a museum, even though it was closed at the time for restoration.  The conference dinner was held at the Grand Hotel Gianicolo, in the nearby Monteverde district.

During the conference, the International Committee marked the long and distinguished service to IAUPE of Thomas Austenfeld (University of Fribourg) and Waldemar Zacharasiewicz (University of Vienna) by presenting them with honorary life memberships of the Association. This honour was also extended retrospectively to Ian J. Kirby (Lausanne).