People walking in to the Arts building on the University of Birmingham campus

This year’s LCAHM PGR Conference took place on Wednesday May 1 on the University of Birmingham campus. The conference brought together PG researchers from across the school and further afield to explore the ways in which landscapes change. Researchers examined a variety of changes in ecological, social, political and other landscapes, and asked how these changes are reflected in and shape culture, both in the present day and historically.

Changing Landscapes was organised by postgraduate students in LCAHM and reflected the interdisciplinary strengths of the school, with themes ranging from ancient stone circles to gender norms in Great Gerwig’s Barbie, the sound of glaciers, and contemporary digital landscapes.

‘I think it is really nice that we made it to have so many speakers and submissions from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds, and everyone seemed to interact well with each other with new inspirations keeping coming out during talks. It is not only a chance for people to share academic ideas, but also a chance for them to get involved in the intercultural communication and embrace the world!’

Linzi Yang, conference organiser

Papers explored representations of ecological landscapes in art, music, and text. Presenters considered the intersections between climate change, landscape, and literature, the rise of the Anthropocene, changing linguistic environments, and more. The keynote speaker, Dr Darya Tsymbalyuk, spoke about her work documenting the war in Ukraine through art, photography and interviews, with a particular emphasis on her commitment to public engagement. She discussed her project, Donbass Odyssey, which documents memories of plants, gardens, and landscapes among internally displaced people in Ukraine.

‘It was an honour to hear from everyone presenting at Changing Landscapes Postgraduate Conference. I especially enjoyed the interdisciplinarity of the event, where you could hear about sound in paintings from the perspective of art history and glacier sounds from the perspective of music composition and music theory on the same day. A different kind of conversation is opened up by such interdisciplinary encounters, allowing projects and ideas to expand and connect to other unexpected thoughts. It also allows for freedom to experiment and be creative with one's research. Thank you for inviting me to be part of this inspiring day, I am looking forward to read/listen to/see further development of everyone's projects!’

Dr Darya Tsymbalyuk, keynote speaker

The Changing Landscapes Conference was funded by LCAHM with support from the Institute for German Studies and the Graduate Centre for Europe.

In a world constantly undergoing change, on both global and local scales, this conference looked to address how change happens as well as how people respond to it. The diverse range of papers highlighted that change is not just something that happens to people and places, but also to approaches, ways of seeing and ways of understanding. There was much thoughtful discussion throughout the day, and the organisers hope that the conference prompted all attendees to consider what it is to exist within a changing landscape.

Written by Becky Smith (PhD History of Art)