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MANIFEST Conference: 20-21 April 2023

Center for Rhetoric brings together researchers from the humanities and the social sciences to examine the manifesto as it functions in Nordic publics. Call for papers here.

The manifesto plays a unique role in Western public and political life. From the US Declaration of Independence to far-right terrorist manifestos, Silicon Valley start-up mission statements to the social movement manifestos of 20th century modernity, these declarative documents for a new world order exist both as a textual expression and as a response to historical and contemporary political landscapes. And yet, despite this rich text’s resurgence in the 21st century, the manifesto remains a critically unexamined artifact of modern deliberative democracies.

In this tense political and social climate, this gap leaves a significant hole in understanding how social action is taking place in the 21st century mediatised West. Moreover, there is a critical need to explore the manifesto beyond Anglo-American neoliberal capitalist democracies, and to examine how it functions specifically in both national and regional Nordic public spheres. It is therefore these gaps that this conference and workshop aims to fill.

We welcome presentations on a variety of key issues including, but not limited to:

  • What are the rhetorical capabilities of the manifesto as a genre?
  • Are manifestos solely a written text? What role does visuals, graphics, and other multimodal devices play in the persuasive capabilities of these texts?
  • How can manifestos generate social action in the networked public sphere?
  • What role does history and/or cultural memory play in the manifesto?
  • How is identity constituted through this type of text?
  • What are the intersections between manifestos and digital platforms?
  • What makes a manifesto a manifesto?
  • How can we read the new forms of solo manifestos?
  • Are there inherent differences amongst the Nordic countries that can be seen through their manifestos?
  • Does a twitter thread count as a manifesto?
  • What role does social media play in the spread of ideas that culminate in an official text?
  • How does the manifesto intersect with different political ideologies in the West?
  • How is it possible to measure or test what manifests do?
  • Does the manifesto, as both a genre and a text, look and interact differently in both individual and collective Nordic publics?

MANIFEST already has committed participants from different Nordic universities across a number of fields including rhetoric, history of ideas, Nordic/Scandinavian studies, and linguistics. We are now recruiting further participants within both the humanities and social sciences for this two day event.

The event is as follows:

  • The first day is a conference where participants can deliver a 15 minute presentation addressing these questions to a larger audience including scholars and students from across Aarhus University. Presentations will then be followed by plenary discussion.
  • On the second day, a closed session workshop will see participants using the conversations from day one to explore this genre specifically in relation to Nordic publics and the welfare state as a unique political and cultural region within the West.

The aims of the planned workshop are (a) to share ideas and research results related to manifestos; b) to establish an international network on manifesto research; c) to use this network to initiate work on shared projects and publications. The working language of MANIFEST is English.

Please send letters of interest, a 300 word abstract (if you wish to present) and a brief bio to Marcia Clare Allison mca@cc.au.dk by the 10th February 2023.