PERSONIFICATION ACROSS DISCIPLINES An interdisciplinary conference at Durham University September 17-19, 2018



Humans have a flair for attributing intentions, traits, agency, emotions and mental states to beings or things – either real or imagined. Whether anthropomorphising natural or abstract shapes, playing with imaginary companions, (re) constructing fictional characters and dialoguing with gods or hallucinatory presences, the attribution of an agentive mentality to human and non-human targets appears both natural and meaningful to our everyday life. The personification of inanimate, non-human, virtual or absent objects or entities seems at the core of human cognition, yet remains in many respects mysterious. To what extent is personification a conscious process whereby we extend intersubjective and narrative relations? When does this capacity emerge? What are its cognitive underpinnings and what are its effects? Is there a continuum to be traced between these different cognitive, narrative, religious and hallucinatory experiences?

Our conference aims to explore personifying dynamics and experiences through a variety of disciplines, methods and perspectives. Keynote speakers include H. Porter Abbott (University of California, Santa Barbara) Guillaume Dumas (Institut Pasteur), Nev Jones (University of South Florida), Tanya Luhrmann (Stanford University) and Marjorie Taylor (University of Oregon).

We are now taking submissions for the conference. Further details on how to apply can be found here.

‘Personification Across Disciplines’ is organised by Hearing the Voice. Thanks to Wellcome Trust funding, the conference is free to attend.