Logo Utrecht University

Utrecht University Humanities Graduate Conference


What’s the Point?

Impact and the Future of the Humanities

Utrecht University Humanities Graduate Conference 2019

11 and 12 April 2019


This conference invites paper submissions from MA students and Ph.D. candidates from all humanities disciplines to analyse and reflect on the twinned issues of impact and knowledge utilization, whether within their own field of research or that of humanities research in general. 

All disciplines within humanities have different approaches and means to deal with issues of knowledge production, utilization, and impact, which provides us all with a broader perspective and new ways of viewing the value of our fields.


How should we deal with the question of “Impact” in the Humanities? Over the past decade, disciplines across the humanities have undergone the same pressure at some point — the pressure to justify their own existence. With ongoing budget cuts and explicit attacks to their epistemological function from political and societal actors, the humanities have been repeatedly asked to state their own value. ‘Why should research that provides only opinions rather than verifiable knowledge deserve our money’, they ask. Rather than answering those who display ignorance or animosity towards the study of culture and the human condition, we would like to rephrase the question, and ask those who have just started practising that study: How are the humanities valuable for society?


We welcome abstracts of 200-300 words to the email address with HGSC submission in the subject line. Please include a short biography (name, study programme, university). Please send all submissions to whatsthepoint@uu.nl by 24 February 2019 at 23:59 (EXTENDED DEADLINE).

Presenters’ opportunity 1: guaranteed masterclass participation and ECs

Accepted presenters will get first refusal to participate in one of the masterclasses by our keynotes Simon During and Eleonora Belfiore and can also gain ECs for presenting and masterclass participation. Remaining masterclass places will be granted via application to include submission of an abstract, the application procedure will start shortly.

Presenters’ opportunity 2: Junctions publication.

Following the UU Graduate Conference Collaboration with Junctions (the Graduate School of Humanities research journal), conference contributors have a chance to publish an article based on their talk in Junctions.


Possible subjects for papers include, but are not limited to:

  • Defining “value” for Humanities disciplines
  • The growing disdain for “experts” in politics
  • Politics in/of the humanities
  • Issues of employability
  • Subjectivity versus objectivity
  • Meta-reflections on different fields
  • Future directions for Humanities disciplines
  • Science-oriented expectations for Humanities research
  • The question of whether impact is necessary


**If you think you could use some inspiration for boosting your presentation, you can check our keynote lecturers’ papers for some ideas, for instance:

  1. During, Simon. (1997) Popular culture on a global scale: a challenge for cultural studies? Critical Inquiry, 23:4, 808-833.
  2. Belfiore, Eleonora. (2018) Whose cultural value? Representation, power and creative industries. International Journal of Cultural Policy,

as well as other scholars’ works in the field.