Call for papers – Decay, Disease, Death in Literatures and Cultures

International Conference on Decay, Disease, Death in Literatures and Cultures

University of Opole, 26-28 September 2016

Carlos Schwabe’s “The Death of the Gravedigger” presents us with what is inevitable for all: the end. Schwabe’s vision of finality, however, is neither pessimistic nor particularly intimidating. As the gravedigger looks up toward the Angel of Death’s winged embrace, we discern the sense of majesty she inspires. Her placid face offers respite from a lifetime of physical labor, allowing the gravedigger to release his well-worn shovel. The gravedigger’s work is done, his soul departs, but life around him is renewed. Flowers begin to dot the receding winter snow. It is, ultimately, a comforting image. But, one might ask, are death, dying, and its first cousin disease and decay really so easy to accept? Let us confront such issues.

Our conference provides a platform to reflect upon themes that address, but are not restricted to:

  1. Representations of disease, death and decay in literature and the media
  2. Cultural and religious perspectives on terminal disease, death and afterlife
  3. Narratives of apocalypse and demise
  4. Narratives of death and resurrection
  5. Disease as narrative
  6. Travel and disease
  7. Dystopian visions of humanity’s breakup and destruction
  8. Rituals of cleansing. passage and mourning
  9. Rhetoric of commemoration
  10. Atonement as a cultural motif
  11. Pandemic and Armageddon in literature, film, and the news
  12. Philosophical and ethical approaches to death disease and decay
  13. Communicating about disease and death in private and institutional settings
  14. Metaphors mitigating taboos related to disease, degeneration and death
  15. Coping with pain, aging and illness
  16. Medicalization of popular culture
  17. Panaceas, self-help and therapies
  18. Conceptions of honorable deaths
  19. The significance of ghosts, haunting, and spirits in literature
  20. Zombies and the undead

For those scholars unafraid of death, disease and decay and interested in participating:

Please send us an abstract (not exceeding 300 words, including the title, your professional affiliation, e-mail address, phone number, and audio-video requirements) by April 30, 2016, to


The language of the conference will be English. The time allotted for individual papers will be twenty minutes with an additional ten minutes for discussion.


Conference participation fees:

The standard participation fee is PLN 450, or €110 and PLN 350 or €75 for postgraduate students

This fee includes conference proceedings and daytime refreshments. Accommodation is not included in the conference fee.


Organizing Committee:
Dr Tadeusz Lewandowski
Dr Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska
Dr Stankomir Nicieja
Prof. Ryszard W. Wolny
Mgr Aleksandra Krajewska