24 Jun 2005 - 25 Jun 2005All dayCRASSH


CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX

The propensity to view the world in terms of binary divisions can be found repeatedly throughout history – in politics, society, religion, literature and art. Such an apparently ubiquitous tendency produces stereotypes that have a deep impact on private and public conversation. Stereotypes tend to make a meaningful public dialogue very difficult, and (especially where they become propaganda) sometimes impossible; but they can also facilitate conversation between individuals and groups who share a similar outlook, and hence create both private, inward-looking conversations and reinforce the binary divide. The ability to converse across stereotypes depends on a toleration of the other person/group, and conversation can break down when binary divides are uppermost and uncontested. Yet stereotyping can also bind people together in a sectional conversation between those who share an antipathy to an 'other'.

The conference will explore these themes. It will bring together a good deal of excellent, but currently rather unlinked work across the disciplines from the classical to the modern world, and across time, although there will be a particular focus on the period c.1450-c.1850. As befits the Conversation theme, we would hope the stress would be on discussion as much as paper-giving. The intended outcomes of the conference will be: a) a mapping of the conceptual terrain, informed by a number of different approaches to the topic b) discussion based on a number of case studies that will deepen and question those methodological approaches c) a deeper understanding of the ways in which stereotypes limit or shape conversations, both metaphorically and in practice d) identify strategies that exploit stereotypes creatively or limit and erode them.

Mark Knights (UEA and Visiting Fellow, CRASSH)
Clare Haynes (UEA)


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk