Narrative and Violence (2020–2022)



Making Sense of Violence in the Digital Age

University of Gdańsk (Poland), 24–26 February 2020

Confirmed Keynote Speakers: Prof. Jeff Hearn and Dr Nena Močnik


We invite scholars, students, practitioners and activists from all fields to take part in the inaugural symposium of the Study Circle Narrative and Violence (2020–2022). The Circle is run under the auspices of the Nordic Summer University, a migratory, non–hierarchical group of international researchers that is a forum for experimentation and cross–disciplinary collaboration welcoming members from both within and outside universities and other institutions.

We will launch our Study Circle in a city that last year was the stage of an outrageous act of violence. As evidenced by the hate-speech-motivated public murder of Paweł Adamowicz, the Mayor of Gdańsk, in the digital age violence calls for an urgent redefinition, and its hermeneutics for a rethinking within theoretical, sociological and cultural perspectives. Bringing together scholars and practitioners (journalists, politicians, political analysts, activists, criminologists etc.), we will discuss the ways in which the newly arisen media have become powerful vectors for violent acts.

We are interested in contributions dealing with various narrativisations of digital violence and the ethical issues they bring to the fore, approached through interdisciplinary perspectives. Some of our research questions are (but not limited to):

  • What new guises does violence take in the digital age?
  • How is violence articulated through social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)?
  • How is digital violence narrativised in cultural productions (literary, cinematic, artistic etc.)?
  • How has sexual violence changed with the onset of digital technology?
  • How can digital media diffuse/counteract violence (e.g. bloggers suffering domestic abuse, violence experienced by minorities, etc.)?
  • What are the negative impacts of digital technology on the animal world and the natural environment?
  • What are the forms and impacts of cyberbullying?
  • What are the potential negative implications of violent video games? How to use them, instead, as non-violence learning tools?
  • Can digital surveillance be considered a form of violence and what are the possible alternatives?

Please send proposals (max. 300 words) with a title and a short biographical statement (100 words) to Marta Laura Cenedese (marta.cenedese [at] by 1st November 2019. We encourage participants to craft their presentations in the format that they find most suitable, but please specify details of required equipment. If you wish to attend without presenting, contact Marta. PhD and MA students are eligible for up to five ECTS points for participation and presentation of a paper. The preliminary programme will be announced in mid–December 2019.


Conference participation fee:

The participation fee includes lunches, coffee/tea during breaks, and the conference dinner.

€80 – standard fee (€ 65 early birds – registration by 20th January)

€60 – students, self-financed/freelance/independent scholars and artists (€ 50 early birds – registration by 20th January)



To participate in the symposium you need to become a member of the Nordic Summer University (NSU). The annual membership fee facilitates the existence of NSU, which is a volunteer-based organisation. As a member you can sign up for all events organised by NSU, take part in the democratic decision-making process on which NSU is based, and become part of the extensive network of NSU. There are two rates: a standard fee of €25 and a discounted membership of €10 for students, self-financed/freelance/independent scholars and artists.

The Nordic Summer University builds on the values of equality, inclusion, and sustainability by combining two traditions: the continental ideals of learning and cultivation of the self, and the Nordic heritage of folkbildning and self-organization, with its investments in open-access education and collaboration through participation and active citizenship.

Circle 4 is actively committed to implementing sustainable practices at its events. At our symposia we offer vegetarian/vegan food only and aim towards zero waste. We thus invite members to bring their own reusable coffee cup and water bottle to the symposia and to consider carefully the carbon footprint of their travel choices.


About the Study Circle

Coordinators: Marta Laura Cenedese and Helena Duffy

Expanding its traditional definition as “behaviour that is intended to injure or kill people,” we conceive of violence as harmful conduct directed at other people, oneself, other species and the environment. This Study Circle takes as its twofold objective the exploration of 1) the cultural pervasiveness of such broadly understood violence and 2) contemporary culture’s capacity for taming/diffusing violence.

Although storytelling and violence have been inextricably bound up since time immemorial, representational violence has manifestly intensified in 20th- and 21st-century culture. Indeed, we are incessantly surrounded by images of polymorphic aggression and cruelty: TV screens, newspapers and social media feeds feature military conflicts, genocides, acts of religious and political terrorism, individual killings, racial and sexual abuse, austerity measures, and homelessness. And yet, because our daily lives are so frequently punctuated by episodes of everyday violence, or micro-aggressions (e.g. cat-calling, aggressive language used among certain peer- groups), our understanding of the essence of and mechanisms behind violence can be lost under a screen of anaesthetising overabundance. Next to spectacular and explosive violence, there lies the so-called “slow violence”: “a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space” (Nixon 2011: 2).

All these acts of brutality find reflection in cultural productions, which, while responding to the violent world, in turn challenge our own reactions to these violent figurations. The heterogeneity of the afore–enumerated brutalities calls into question their problematic assemblage under the label of “violence”; however, in order to engage theoretically with the what-how-why of violence, it is important to approach it in a non-hierarchical manner. It is only by adopting such an approach that we can attempt to (re)define violence, trace its origins and trajectories, and, finally and most importantly, explore the ways in which narratives sustain, fuel or diffuse it.

Understanding the theory and practice of narrative violence is crucial and instrumental when questioning intersectional inequalities, unsustainable practices, coloniality, and the weakening of democracies in favour of unfair and divided societies. Concrete and rigorous exchanges among the humanities and social and natural sciences are essential for an understanding of how violence arises, how it is experienced, and how it is narrated.



Marta Laura Cenedese (Finland)
Coordinator Study Circle 4
marta.cenedese [at]
Study Circle 4: Narrative and Violence

Helena Duffy (Finland)
Coordinator Study Circle 4
helena.duffy [at]
Study Circle 4: Narrative and Violence