Personification Across Disciplines
7-19 September | Calman Learning Centre (Durham University) | Durham | UK

Humans have a flair for attributing intentions, traits, agency, emotions and mental states to beings or things – either real or imagined. Whether anthropomorphising natural or abstract shapes, playing with imaginary companions, (re) constructing fictional characters and dialoguing with gods or hallucinatory presences, the attribution of an agentive mentality to human and non-human targets appears both natural and meaningful to our everyday life. The personification of inanimate, non-human, virtual or absent objects or entities seems at the core of human cognition, yet remains in many respects mysterious. To what extent is personification a conscious process whereby we extend intersubjective and narrative relations? When does this capacity emerge? What are its cognitive underpinnings and what are its effects? Is there a continuum to be traced between these different cognitive, narrative, religious and hallucinatory experiences?

Personification Across Disciplines (PAD2018) is a three-day interdisciplinary conference that aims to explore personifying dynamics and experiences through a variety of disciplines, methods and perspectives. Keynote speakers include H. Porter Abbott (University of California, Santa Barbara) Guillaume Dumas (Institut Pasteur), Nev Jones (University of South Florida) and Ann Taves (University of California, Santa Barbara). Brought to you by Hearing the Voice, PAD2018 is free to attend, thanks to generous funding from the Wellcome Trust.


Registration for PAD2018 is now open and can be completed online before 15 August. Information about travel and accommodation whilst in Durham can be found here.


More information about PAD2018 can be found on the conference website. The full programme, which includes details of the keynote addresses and over 25 different panels on topics ranging from personification in psychosis, fiction and artificial intelligence through to felt presence experiences, tulpas and imaginary companions is available to download here.

We warmly invite you to join us in Durham for what promises to be a rich and stimulating event. And for the latest conference updates on Twitter, please follow the hashtag #personification2018