About the workshop

The Joys of Violence, 19-21 September

The Interpreting Violence project begins with the assumption that the representation of violence in literature, film, history and journalism is an inherently ethical issue because it invites readers or viewers to imagine someone else´s pain. As uncomfortable as the fact may be, we are confronted everyday with signs that people enjoy the vicarious experience of violence – crime novels in the airport, first-person perspective war games, action movies. “Joys of Violence,” the first workshop of the Interpreting Violence project, confronts this uncomfortable issue.  The conference will be held at Uppsala University September 19-21, 2018, and brings together eighteen scholars from eight different countries to address the topic from the perspectives of film studies, literature, psychology, history and philosophy.

Scholars contributing to this workshop examine narratives in which violence is presented as playful, comic, thrilling or redemptive. Such representations go at least as far back as The Iliad.. Questions to be investigated include: Is our own mortality a trigger for finding ways to sublimate violence into aesthetic joy or deliberative fascination? Are certain forms of representation themselves violent? Do certain art forms and interpretive acts particularly lend themselves to the joys of violence, and what are the ethical consequences of that joy? That people find joy in violence is obvious – from box office numbers and people´s consumption of violent narratives in news and fiction – but the extent to which certain types of pleasure in violent narratives facilitate violence or non-violence in the world must still be reckoned with.

The workshop will be structured around thirty-minute presentations and subsequent discussions. It is open to the public.