From Dr. Emma Cole on Medium:

Immersive experiences represent one of the highest growth areas within the UK’s cultural industries. Their centrality to the creative economy was recognised in the UK Creative Industries Sector Deal (2018), which estimated that the immersive content market would be worth over £30 billion by 2025 and pledged to invest £33 million in immersive technologies to ensure Britain maintains a competitive role within this lucrative market. Yet despite the frequent use of cutting-edge technologies to facilitate such experiences, the idea of immersion is not new but goes back to antiquity. We can find instances of literature facilitating moments of immersion in texts from the Homeric epics through to Thucydides’ History and the speeches of the Attic orators, and can find regular examples of ancient critics and philosophers theorising about the sensation as well.

Given this shared interest in the idea of immersion, it is perhaps no surprise to find that modern-day immersive experiences frequently look back to antiquity, including but not limited to the immersive museum experiences surrounding the ancient city of Pergamon, the immersive video game Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and the immersive theatrical experiences of dreamthinkspeak, Shunt, and ZU-UK.

This conference aims to bring together an interdisciplinary and intraprofessional group of scholars and artists interested in exploring and theorising the relationship between antiquity and immersivity. It is hoped that the event will foster discussion about theoretical approaches to immersion, for example through cognitive and narratological strategies, and experiential understandings of immersion as it pertains to live experience. The event will highlight the potential for multidisciplinary knowledge exchange to shed new light on research questions about immersion across time.

Contributions are welcome that intersect with the full spectrum of the concept of immersivity including but not limited to:

  • Forms of immersion in the ancient world
  • Methods for analysing instances of immersion in antiquity, including cognitive and narratological approaches
  • The history of the poetics of immersion
  • Antiquity and immersive museum experiences
  • Classical reception and immersive theatre
  • The ancient world and mixed reality, augmented reality, and virtual reality technologies

It is intended that this two-day conference will take place in Bristol, with options for virtual participation available. However, to facilitate a pivot to an entirely virtual conference, should it be necessary, all papers will be pre-circulated. The conference itself will consist of responses and discussion.

Contributions of c. 3000 word papers, shorter provocations, as well as exhibitions and/or demonstrations of prototype experiences are welcome. Contributors should be willing to give a short prepared response to another paper, and should be prepared to pre-circulate their own paper by 1 March 2021. Confirmed speakers include Felix Barrett (Punchdrunk), Prof. Jonas Grethlein (Heidelberg), Dr Colin Sterling (UCL), and the team behind the ARHC project ‘The Virtual Reality Oracle’ (University of Bristol).

To register your interest please submit an abstract of 300 words by 30 September 2020. A limited number of travel bursaries for graduate students, the unwaged, and the precariously employed will be available; if you wish to be considered for a bursary please indicate so on your abstract and include an indicative travel budget.

For further information please contact Emma Cole: emma.cole@bristol.ac.uk.

This conference is generously funded through the AHRC via the leadership fellowship ‘Punchdrunk on the Classics’.

Dr. Emma Cole seems to be a theatre / reception kind of person.