Constellations – 2024 AHRC International Conference

The Ninth Annual AHRC International Conference, supported by the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP, will bring together doctoral students from: the Open University, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School of Cologne University, Australian National University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Stockholm University. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK (AHRC), the conference will facilitate interdisciplinary discussions and collaborations. It will be a space to present and debate the theme of Constellations in any and all forms, speaking across and between areas of study. It is an opportunity for attendees to introduce their work to the global research community, establish new connections, spotlight new areas for collaboration, and consider how the bringing together of disparate disciplines and subjects can produce fruitful new scholarship and debate.

We will be joined by high-profile keynote speakers from a number of institutions, who will be announced in due course. Each day of our conference will include social events and activities (e.g. poetry readings, movie nights, museum/city tours, yoga), coffee and lunch breaks, and conference dinners to allow attendees and panellists to network and explore Cambridge.

Keynote Lecture


Deadline for submissions

The deadline for paper abstracts and panel proposals is Friday 17 May 2024 (GMT). This deadline is only for students from Oxford, Cambridge and The Open University.

All submissions should be made via this form.



Constellations are groupings and networks which exist on the border between subjectivity and objectivity. They can be composed of objectively related ideas or objects or can be the result of human interpretation, subjectively connecting disparate concepts. Seeing constellations, and imaginatively creating them for ourselves, is a fundamental part of human nature. Our work as scholars involves perceiving and interpreting diverse and multiple patterns in the world around us. We connect ideas together, making them intelligible and helping us better understand our world. There is always room for multiplicity, different ways of looking at and connecting the same set of patterns and ideas.

This year’s conference theme of constellations focuses on networks, connection, relation, collectivity, and interplay. It also recognises the vital importance of collaboration and community to our work. Constellations have another valence as shared points by which to navigate or map the night sky, and the world in which we move. 

Submissions could explore how we can creatively connect points across disciplines, space, time, and language. Alternatively, papers may interrogate the boundary between conceptually useful but subjective constellations and the recognition of more objective relations, and consider the methodological implications of each approach. Applicants may also want to consider orientation, navigation, and ways of mapping out their field of study.

We accept proposals from all subjects in the arts and humanities for individual 20-minute papers and for themed panels (3 x 20-minute papers). We are also open to submissions for 5-minute lightning talks and/or creative responses. Potential topics and approaches include, but are not limited to:

  • Unexpected political, social, or historical communities and networks across space and time.
  • Artistic or literary movements and genres, connections between different artists, writers, or artworks.
  • Interdisciplinary connections and constellations.
  • Disparate connections, scattering, dispersion, and diaspora.
  • Path-finding, mapping, navigation, and orienteering (literally and/or figuratively).
  • Connections between humans and non-human factors (e.g. geography, ecology, technology, systems of law and politics).
  • Methodologies and ways of working which relate to connection, collectivity, and collaboration.
  • The role of interpretation in creating scholarly narratives.
  • Theories of connection, such as Walter Benjamin’s concept of constellations, network studies, or Bruno Latour's actor-network theory. 

[In the below graphic (from left to right): dispersion, pattern, navigation, interpretation, accumulation, mapping, collaboration, network, contingency, scattering, connection, collectives, community, constellations, interplay, coincidence, interdisciplinarity, interrelation, correlation, multiplicity]



All proposals should include a title, a brief abstract (no more than 250 words), 3 keywords relating to your proposed paper, and a brief speaker biography of no more than 100 words.  They should be submitted using this form by no later than Friday 17 May 2024. We will aim to inform all applicants of their submissions’ outcome during the first week of June 2024.

Please note: if you are a student from one of our International Partner universities, we ask that you please submit your proposal via your university, and do not complete the above online form. Thank you.


This opportunity is open to OOC DTP arts and humanities doctoral researchers of all subjects from the Open University and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Applicants from the international partner institutions named above are welcome to get in contact with their universities about the internal application process. 

Students who are not registered at Cambridge will be offered accommodation and support for travel expenses if selected to speak at the conference.

Please direct any questions at

Lena Alfter

Lena Alfter

I'm a second-year PhD student at Cambridge, studying Music. My doctoral project focuses on Beethoven’s sketches for the trios and quartets of his only opera ‘Leonore’/‘Fidelio’. I seek to uncover deeper insights into Beethoven’s modus operandi, difficulties, and solutions in composing the vocal ensembles for his opera with regard to any effect his preliminary studies might have had. 

Cecily Fasham

Cecily Fasham

I am a second-year English PhD student at Cambridge. My research explores the modern sonnet through examining sonnets written by women in the period c.1850-present, including Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Edna St Vincent Millay, Gwendolyn Brooks, Wanda Coleman and Bernadette Mayer. 


Marlene Schilling

I am a second-year DPhil student at Oxford, in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages. I study the poetics of medieval Northern German prayer books (written and used in female convents around 1500) by looking at the stylistic means of personifications of time. My project is placed at a fascinating intersection of poetics, theology and female devotion, shining light on a so far understudied corpus of late medieval manuscripts. 

Valentino Gargano

Valentino Gargano

I am a second-year DPhil student at Oxford, in the Faculty of Classics. In my DPhil, I aim to transcend specific focuses on issues such as race, gender, and class, endeavouring instead to fathom their thematic overlap in Euripidean and Ovidian poetry. This reflects the recent developments in social sciences that aim at building a theory of intersectionality. 

Giorgia Maffioli Brigatti

Giorgia Maffioli-Brigatti

I am a second year PhD student at Cambridge, in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. My research project centres on the olfactory experience of art and culture in Iran during the early-modern and modern periods, ca. 1500-1900. I look at the ways in which perfumed substances were widely used, from fashioning, curing and poisoning people, to surmounting spirits as well as exchanged in political relations. 

Our international partners for the 2024 conference include:

  • a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School of Cologne University
  • Australian National University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Stockholm University


The first five Cambridge AHRC International Conferences were organised and supported by the Cambridge AHRC DTP. Conference themes included: Trust and Truth (2019), Space and Surface (2018), Tradition and Transformation (2017), Time and Temporality (2016). You can find out more about these past conferences here:

The subsequent three conferences, Across Distance (2021),  Hybridity (2022), and Entanglements (2023), were organised by a committee of students from the OU, Oxford, and Cambridge, with support from the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP.


If you have any questions, please write to