The Cycle of Life in Art, Literature and Science Symposium 2016

Lifecycle web

 Friday 1st July 2016, 9.00 – 17.30

Hosted by the Visual Arts Research Group (VAR), Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Coventry University – Institute for Creative Enterprise (ICE) Building, Coventry UniversityTechnology Park, Parkside, CV1 2NE

 Convenors: Jonathan Waller Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Dr Lynsey McCulloch – Senior Lecturer in English Literature, Professor Juliet Simpson – Professor of Art History, Chair of Visual Arts Research, Dr Andrea Hannon – Research Assistant Visual Art and Art History

This year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. To commemorate this important event and as part of the international celebrations that are taking place, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Coventry University are hosted this symposium entitled ‘The Cycle of Life in Art, Literature & Science’, taking as a starting point Shakespeare’s ‘Seven Ages of Man’ speech from his play As You Like It.

This one-day interdisciplinary symposium explored meanings, perceptions and the scholarly and creative reception of cycles of life in art, literature and science in historical and contemporary cultural contexts. Bringing together a wide range of scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds, including those with interests in the History of Art, English Literature, Shakespeare, Theatre, Early Modern History, Classical Studies, Medical Science, Psychology and the Social Sciences, the symposium investigated how artists and writers have addressed the concept of the human life cycle through popular and high art from the Middle Ages to the present day. It explored how artists have dealt with the ageing process and the inevitability of death, and how alternative visions of the life cycle can be explored through art, recent developments in science, and psychoanalysis. A range of international speakers, including from the US, Europe and the United Kingdom delivered a diverse and interesting range of papers that collectively, drew upon new concepts of the cycle of life explored critically through related disciplines and a rich series of innovative approaches.

The schedule for the day included a presentation of recent drawings on the theme of ‘The Seven Ages of Man’ from As You Like It, produced by the artist Jonathan Waller and commissioned by Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare is buried. The exhibition of the original works will hang in Holy Trinity church between April and September 2016.


Dr Michael Overdick (Stuttgart University/Düsseldorf University)

Hannah Yip (Independent Researcher. Studied at Oxford University, awarded an MA with Distinction in Literature and Arts)

Leo Delfgaauw (Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen)

Ruth Calland (Artist and Researcher)

Dr Katerina Georgoulia (University of York)

Clari Searle (Lecturer of English, Faculty of Arts Humanities, Coventry University)

Cara Kiernan Fallon (Harvard University)

 Dr Andrew Beck (Principal Lecturer in Applied Communication, Faculty of Arts Humanities, Coventry University)

Jean Boggs  (Brooklyn College, NY)

Professor Karen Stock (Professor of Art History, Winthrop University)

We would like to thank all those who contributed to the event, including those who travelled a great distance to be here.

For more information about the event and speakers you can download the Schedule and Programme below:



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