Call for Papers: Celebrating Hercules in the Modern World

Call for Papers: Celebrating Hercules in the Modern World

Submit your title and abstract for the international conference by 31 January.

International Conference, University of Leeds 07-09 July 2017

In June 2013 the Leeds conference Hercules: a Hero for All Ages laid the foundations for a large-scale project on the reception of the ancient Greek hero Herakles in post-classical culture.  Work has been proceeding quietly on four volumes arising from the original conference, to be published in Brill's series Metaforms: Studies in the Reception of Classical Antiquity.  A grant from the AHRC's Networking fund is now supporting, amongst other things, the development of a new website and a follow-on conference at Leeds in July 2017.  
Celebrating Hercules in the Modern World will reflect on the progress of the project so far, and work towards finalising the content of the volumes, due for publication in 2018-19: while the first two volumes are almost complete, there is scope for additional papers in all four, as detailed in the Call for Papers below. The conference will reunite a number of scholars from the 2013 conference, but also aims to bring new contributors on board: scholars from a wide range of disciplines are welcome - including history, art history, world literatures, drama, music, film and cultural studies - to share their expertise on the many contexts in which Hercules appears.  
In 2013 we welcomed a number of practitioners talking about their Hercules-related work, including dramatists and the contemporary New Zealand artist Marian Maguire. This time there will be a presentation in the Clothworkers' Concert Hall of Herakles, a new oratorio by Tim Benjamin, fresh from its April 2017 première.
The conference will again make use of the excellent facilities on the main Leeds campus, with academic sessions based in the School of Music, and comfortable overnight accommodation in Storm Jameson Court.


All sessions will be plenary, to maximise the potential for cross-disciplinary discussion. Papers should be c.20 minutes in length. While proposals on any aspect of Herculean reception will be considered, we are particularly looking to enhance the volumes' coverage in the following areas:
Herakles Inside and Outside the Church: from the first Christian Apologists to the end of the Quattrocento: This volume examines Herakles-Hercules' adoption inside and outside the early Church as an allegorical figure, and appropriations of this figure in medieval Italian ecclesiastical literature and art. Papers on receptions in other parts of Christendom, and by other religions, would be particularly welcome.  NB this volume is almost ready to go to press: any paper accepted for publication will need to be finished by the end of August 2017.
The Exemplary Hercules: This volume covers receptions of the hero in the Early Modern period, debating Hercules' status as the incarnation of virtue, ways in which this might be presented or problematised in different media, and the varieties of political capital made out of the figure.  NB this volume will be the next to go to press: any paper accepted for publication will need to be submitted to the editors by the end of September 2017.
Hercules Performed: This volume explores Hercules' development in works written for performance, encompassing new works as well as re-workings of ancient tragedy and comedy, opera and oratorio as well as stage plays. Papers on receptions of Seneca's Hercules-plays, and on comic performances, would be particularly welcome. Any paper accepted for publication will need to be submitted to the editors by the end of December 2017.
The Modern Hercules: This volume covers Hercules' appearances in various media from the nineteenth century to the present day, including consideration of contemporary art, children's literature, cartoons, film, radio, video-games, political and commercial discourses. Papers on the use of Hercules in branding and political discourse would be particularly welcome.  Any paper accepted for publication will need to be submitted to the editors by the end of December 2017.
If you are interested in offering a paper, please submit a title and short abstract (200-250 words) by 31 January 2017 to the address:  If you want to discuss an idea before submission, you are welcome to e-mail Emma Stafford (