Art, War and Truth, 13-14 February 2014

Convenors Margaret Hutchison ( and Emily Robertson (

This conference 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, 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 two day conference draws together scholars researching the representation of war in various art forms and the relationship between art and truth. Some questions the papers will focus on are: what circumstances have led 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?
Conference program (pdf)

The Australian War Memorial will host opening drinks for the conference on the evening of Wednesday 12 February. Tickets for this event are available at

Attendance at the conference is free but booking is essential

The conference is funded by grants from the ANU Student Extracurricular Enrichment Fund and the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict in Society, UNSW Canberra.

We are pleased to announce that the Journal of War and Culture Studies will publish a special edition based on papers given at the conference.

All presenters are encouraged to submit an article of between 5,000 - 6,000 words to the journal by 1 November 2014. For more information on the journal and the submission process please go to

Date & time

Thu 13 Feb 2014, 8.30am – Fri 14 Feb 2014, 5.30pm


Australian National University


School of History


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