Art, War and Truth

AustralianUniv13-14 February 2014

Australian National University
Deadline: Jul 5, 2013

A free symposium for staff and students at ANU and other Australian scholars working in the field of war art is to be held at ANU in 2014.

This symposium seeks to explore the deep and enduring biases about war, art and truth which exist in academic scholarship. Over the past century war art and war literature have come to be regarded as holding a unique and privileged relationship with the truth. In popular and scholarly interpretations of war, art has often been seen as having access to the authentic truth about the experience of war.  The idea that art, or literature, by its very nature, can provide a truthful representation of war is one of the key reasons painters and writers are still sent to the frontline. Conversely, ‘low’ art, propaganda in particular is regarded as untruthful because it ‘sells’ a war to the public.

The symposium seeks to draw together scholars researching the representation of war in various art forms and welcomes papers that explore the relationship between art and truth. Some questions that papers might consider are: what circumstances have lead scholars to see some art as depicting the ‘truth’ of war, and others as merely portraying a constructed reality? At what point does war art segue into propaganda during wartime?  Can the truth of war be represented in art and literature?

An initiative of the ANU Student Extracurricular fund, a Call for Papers has been made, proposals  are to be no more than 250 words and include a CV and should be submitted to

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