I International H/Story Seminar

Social Problems in Contemporary Female Historical Fiction

University of Silesia in Katowice


The idea that historical fiction uses past occurrences to comment on its contemporaneity has been with us long enough to become obvious. Similarly, the idea that historical fiction points to social problems has also been surfacing in the works of many writers and academics. It is, however, worth pointing out that the ever-rising interest in these ideas has not made them cognitively unproductive. On the contrary, the intention of this seminar is to combine these two notions and take a fresh look at how their fusion works in historical fiction, whose recent expansive and in-depth transformation has attracted a wide-spread attention of literature, cinema, and game industry buffs.

Capitalising on the popularity surge of the genre, this seminar is focused on how contemporary historical fiction addresses various social problems, what problems it identifies as the most burning nowadays, and whether it can escape the commoditisation curse (being written just with the demand in view) and offer viable solutions to some of these problems. Thus, raising a socially important topic – female perspectives on the past that have been largely marginalised so far – and concentrating on recent works of historical fiction – broadly defined and including texts of literature and film – the proposed seminar is primarily driven by the following questions: What do women look for and, more importantly, find in the past? How does female historical fiction situate itself with regard to current social problems? How are female configurations of subjectivity and agency reimagined? How does this fiction resonate with current social, literary, and intellectual trends?

Having these in mind, we invite scholars of various fields to present their takes on how contemporary female historical fiction engages with various social problems. Among the specific themes that might be covered in fifteen-minute-long presentations are the following (the list is by no means exhaustive):

  • historical fiction’s critical diagnoses of the present and engagement in current social problems;
  • changing representations of female historical figures (especially women in power and transcending their boundaries);
  • re/de/evolution of female and male perspectives on female characters (especially with regard to non-binary characters);
  • female historical awareness and its transformations;
  • female conceptualisation and reconceptualisation of patriarchal challenges;
  • female ways, tools, and measures of fighting patriarchy;
  • female ways, tools, and measures of empowerment;
  • ecoperspectives in female historical fiction;
  • retelling the past from non-mainstream perspectives;
  • female configurations of identity (criticism, new forms);
  • female ways of coming of age and overcoming problems;
  • psychological construction of female characters (psychological challenges and hardships and ways of coping with them);
  • narrative construction of female characters (heroes, villains, and their transformations).

We welcome scholars from various academic fields as well as non-academics to submit their proposals by 9 October 2022. Abstracts (of no more than 150 words) in English should be emailed to hstory.seminar@gmail.com. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 12 November 2022. Further deadline and editorial details on submitting texts will follow.

The seminar is free of charge. It is also open to external participants. To join it, please contact us at: hstory.seminar@gmail.com.

A selection of papers will appear in a Web of Science- or Scopus-indexed journal. See our previous publications here.

Find us on: hstory.us.edu.pl/seminar and facebook.com/Hstory-437485846310918/ Contact us at: hstory.seminar@gmail.com

Best regards,

Alicja Bemben, Justyna Jajszczok & Maria Ogórek

 Seminarium „Najnowsza kobieca fikcja historyczna” jest realizowane w ramach projektu pt. „Jeden Uniwersytet – Wiele Możliwości. Program Zintegrowany”


Join us at: https://tinyurl.com/hstory1seminar [the meeting link will work only on the day of the seminar]