Echoes of Echo in British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present

Event Date: 
30 Mar 2017 to 01 Apr 2017

International Conference, Logis du Roy, Amiens, France


Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • Prof. Véronique Gély (Université Paris-Sorbonne)
  • Prof. Philip Hardie (Trinity College, University of Cambridge)


Conference website:

While the mythological figure of Narcissus has become a common topic in literature and the arts, Echo, the nymph, can hardly be said to have elicited the same amount of interest. And yet, although Echo cannot speak for herself and has consequently been overlooked in criticism, her voice might still be heard reverberating today, and be worth listening to. Indeed, the nymph who was sentenced by divine law to repeat part of another’s words might also produce new meaning through this very process of deferral and alteration. Beyond the stereotype of a disembodied and petrified shadow blending into the landscape, we would like to consider Echo as the epitome of literary (re)creation: although her discourse follows, rather than leads, it is always new and can thus undermine notions of authority and authorship. In the wake of John Hollander’s and Véronique Gély’s ground-breaking works, The Figure of Echo: A Mode of Allusion in Milton and After (1981), La Nostalgie du moi : Écho dans la littérature européenne (2000), this conference will study Echo’s mythological, acoustical and metaphorical manifestations in the specific field of British literature, across different genres (poetry, drama, essay-writing and fiction) and through different theoretical approaches, from the Renaissance to the present.


This topic will be studied from three different angles:

• The mythological figure of Echo: how was Ovid’s narrative translated, received, reinterpreted throughout the centuries? What kind of “metamorphoses” has Echo undergone? What is specific about the reception of the myth in the British Isles?

• The echo as an acoustic phenomenon: participants will be encouraged to look at the representations of echoes in fiction, poetry and drama, but also to study echoes as a mode of representation, particularly stylistic devices based on repetition.

• The echo as a type of literary allusion: what characterizes the echo as a form of intertextual reference? How does the altering repetition of the words of others carry and create meaning? The aim will not be to list or present examples of intertextual echoes but to try to define the specificity of echoes as allusive devices, as compared with other intertextual phenomena.


Topics of interest include (but are not limited to) the following:

• Translations and reinterpretations of the myth of Echo and Narcissus (Ovid) or the myth of Echo and Pan (Longus) in the British Isles.

• The dialogue with Echo as a literary genre (including echo-poems).

• Rhetorical devices based on echoes.

• The echo as the voice of nature in pastorals.

• The lyrical subject as an embodiment of Echo, both voicing and interpreting the song of nature.

• Soundscapes: shores, lakes, caves, cliffs, cavities or monuments.

• Echoes of the lost voices of the dead in elegiac texts.

• The echo as the embodiment of the author’s voice, reverberating in the reader’s mind, and as a symbol of fame and posterity.

• Echoes as the projection of irrational fears (in the Gothic Novel, for instance).

• Narrative echoes that shape differed, diffracted or multiple forms of enunciation.

• The echo as endless repetition threatening meaning.

• The echo as a form of ironical repetition.

• Echo as the embodiment of secondary, subordinate, subdued voices (as theorized by Gayatri Spivak in the concept of “a-phonia”).

• Echo as a figure of the translator who says “almost the same thing” (to use Umberto Eco’s phrase).


We welcome proposals for 25-minute papers (in English or in French) on the above-mentioned topics.

Please send abstracts of about 300 words, together with a short (100-word) author biography, to the organizers, Marie Laniel (Université de Picardie – Jules Verne), Laetitia Sansonetti (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense), and Aurélie Thiria-Meulemans (Université de Picardie – Jules Verne) by 30 June 2016, at:

A selection of peer-reviewed articles based on papers given at the conference will be published in Polysemes


Scientific committee:
Prof. Pascal Aquien
Prof. Christine Berthin
Prof. Camille Fort
Prof. Isabelle Gadoin
Prof. Véronique Gély
Dr. Florence Klein
Dr. Marie Laniel
Prof. Yves Peyré
Dr. Lacy Rumsey
Dr. Laetitia Sansonetti
Dr. Aurélie Thiria-Meulemans
Prof. Pascale Tollance

Submission date for papers: 
30 Jun 2016