Call for Papers: Bishop Conference at University of Sheffield


An international conference on Elizabeth Bishop’s writing hosted by the University of Sheffield

Elizabeth Bishop’s Questions of Travel: Fifty Years After

25-27 June 2015, Sheffield, UK


Confirmed plenary speakers: Professor Stephen Burt (Harvard University), Professor Deryn Rees-Jones (University of Liverpool) and Professor Linda Anderson (Newcastle University)


To mark the fiftieth anniversary of Elizabeth Bishop’s third collection of poems, Questions of Travel (1965), and the importance of Bishop as a major influence on British and Irish contemporary poets, the University of Sheffield is pleased to host this international conference on her work in June 2015.


The aim of the conference is to look at Bishop as an international writer with allegiances to various countries and national traditions, including but not limited to the countries she lived in and felt at home. How does Bishop move between literal geographies like Brazil and Canada but also more slippery categories like home and elsewhere, human and animal, insider and outsider. While the focus of the conference will naturally fall on Questions of Travel, we welcome papers on all aspects and periods of Bishop’s career, from her early writing in the 1930s to the late poems finished after Geography III in the late 1970s and those works published after her death.


We are also interested in how Bishop’s writing has itself travelled elsewhere and what Bishop sounds like in other cultures, languages and traditions. John Ashbery famously called Bishop “a writer’s writer’s writer.” This conference will consider which writers mattered to Bishop and which contemporary writers have taken Bishop home with them.


Topics may include but are not limited to the following:


  • The place of Questions of Travel within the Bishop canon
  • Bishop’s Brazil/Brasil’s Bishop
  • The meaning of “Elsewhere”
  • Bishop’s dedications
  • Bishop’s questions
  • Bishop’s sense of humour
  • Bishop’s animal poems
  • Bishop as a correspondent
  • Bishop as a translator
  • Bishop as a travel writer
  • Bishop and visual art
  • Bishop and the Cold War
  • Bishop’s influence today


We encourage proposals from anyone with an interest in Bishop’s art and life, including established scholars, graduate students and creative writers.


Proposals for 20-minute papers (maximum 300 word abstracts, plus a short biographical note of no more than 50 words) are due by 15 December 2014, and should be sent to Panel proposals (comprised of 3 paper proposals, plus an additional 250 words explaining how the papers are linked in addressing the theme) are also welcome.


In addition to academic papers, the conference will include at least two poetry readings, a wine tasting and a conference dinner.


The conference will be held at Halifax Hall, formerly home of the Victorian industrialist, philanthropist and Lord Mayor of Sheffield Sir Joseph Jonas, later a   hall of residence, now a beautiful hotel and conference venue in the middle of a conservation area and close to the city’s Botanical Gardens. Accommodation is available at a special conference rate for delegates in Halifax Hall and, more economically, in nearby student halls.


The city of Sheffield is located in the county of South Yorkshire in the north of England on the very edge of the Peak District National Park, approximately two hours by train from London.


The University of Sheffield has a long history in nurturing great writers. Sir William Empson was a former Head of Department for two decades, Stephen Daldry and Hilary Mantel are both former students, and Simon Armitage is our current Professor of Poetry.


For up-to-date information please consult the conference website:


You may also wish to look at the following:

School of English website:

Halifax Hall website:

Sheffield Centre for Poetry and Poetics:


Conference organizing committee:


Jonathan Ellis (chair); Anna Barton; Madeleine Callaghan; Katherine Ebury; Ruth Hawthorn; Katrina Mayson; and Sophie Baldock.



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