Appel à contribution – History through the mirror: views and narratives on past

Conference organized by XXXV cycle PhD students in
Historical, Geographical, Anthropological Studies
(University of Padua, University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, University of Verona)

13th & 14th October 2021


“Oh, Kitty! how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking-glass House! I’m sure

it’s got, oh! such beautiful things in it!”

(L.Carrol, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There)

In the current debate, the past is subject of multiple narratives and investigations, as evidenced by the emerging trends of modern public history. Historian clearly cannot consider himself the only custodian of the past. Far from being just an academical fetish/possession, past blossoms from and through society. History has always been perceived in its composite aspects, so that people investigated the past with a cross-cutting approach, through a wide range of literary and artistic expressions and material productions. Starting from the image of the mirror, both defined in its material and metaphorical dimension, this seminary aims to investigate the relationship that communities create with past, a relationship that is per sé redefined and redefinable and that involves individuals themselves and the whole community. These elements end up being actors and vehicles of signification of the historical matter.

The purpose of this seminary is to examine history not only through professional historian’s experience, but also with the mediation of material, artistical, literary and popular and shared culture. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice, walks through the mirror and visits its “proper home”, i.e. past, which is similar and different at the same time, depending on the gaze pending on it.

Topic and questions

Which different readings and past experiences of elder civilizations and worlds have been elaborated over the centuries? There are numerous examples both in time and space: from the Renovatio Imperii of the medieval emperors and kings, to the humanists’ adoration for the classical world; from the pursuit of the original myths of peoples and nations in nineteenth-century Romanticism, to the instrumental use of the ancient world in the totalitarian states of the twentieth century.

In these two days of study, our desire is to gather past knowledge and former experiences, built beyond the experience of historians, through material and artistic culture of all kinds. In particular, we would like to answer to the following question: how does history really look like without the filter of the historiographical narration?

The main purpose of the seminary is to investigate different topics and subjects from the prehistory to the contemporary age:

– Description or interpretation of the past through the object, beyond archaeology. Which interpretations have been given to different objects in the past?

– Artistical representation of history. How did artists view and read the past? Which was the privileged point of view in literature, epic, poetry, songs, music, written documents, annals, and in which way did they elaborate the past?

– History through technology, visual media and social media. How is technology changing history?

We are happy to invite all Phd students, post-docs, researchers of any subject and historical period to join us with their proposals.

Practical Information

The Conference will be held on October 13 and 14, 2021. We hope to be able to organize the conference in a mixed formula, with participation both via Zoom platform and at the Department of Studi Storici, Geografici e dell’Antichità (DiSSGeA), University of Padua, or at the Department of Studi Umanistici (DSU) of the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Speeches can be held in Italian, English, French or Spanish; the following discussion will take place in English.

Italian and international PhD students, post-doc researchers are particularly encouraged to participate. Interventions are accepted in the following languages: Italian, English, French and Spanish. To participate, please send a file in PDF format to, indicating:

  • Name
  • Surname
  • Current academic affiliation
  • Presentation Title
  • Abstract up to 3000 characters (spaces excluded) and a short bibliographical note (up to 10 titles). A brief description of the personal academic background is also recommended.
    All the presentations should last about 20 minutes. The deadline for sending the Abstract is July 16, 2021. If you have any questions or need assistence, contact The Organizing Committee will take care of the evaluation and selection of the Abstracts.

    Notifications of acceptance will be made by September 1, 2021. Each succesfull candidate will be requested to indicate the preferred modality for participation (in Padua, Venice or via Zoom)

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