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Alone Together. Mapping the Field: Challenges and Futures. An International Pandisciplinary Conference on Solitude in Community 25th - 27th April 2024, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, UK


“We must meet; we must communicate with one another; we must, it would seem, be alone together” (John Macmurray)

We welcome contributions to the fourth international pandisciplinary conference on solitude in community: Alone Together, which will be held in Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) in Lincoln, UK, from Thursday 25th to Saturday 27 April 2024. This is organized by the International Society for Research on Solitude (ISRS) with support from Bishop Grosseteste University (UK) and the University of Szczecin (Poland), under the auspices of Professor Karen Stanton the Vice Chancellor of Bishop Grosseteste University ,UK, and Professor Waldemar Tarczyński the Rector of the University of Szczecin, Poland.

We welcome proposals of titles and up to 250-word abstracts of papers* and posters on any issues related to solitude, silence and loneliness, from any discipline, and from researchers from all over the world.  These will be peer reviewed by the conference committee.

The theme of this edition is Mapping the Field: Challenges and Futures.  This is part of an attempt to map the field, as the field of solitude studies crosses conventional disciplinary, professional and contextual boundaries, making it all too often a ‘hidden gem’ within other disciplines and fields. 

We are delighted to announce the three keynote/plenary sessions. 

  • The opening session is by Michael Cholbi, Professor and Personal Chair in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, on: Attention, Solitude, and the Social Dimensions of Grief.
  • The second is a panel session on the theme of Mapping the Field: Challenges and Futures, with attendance of distinguished experts from Australia, Canada, Sweden and Poland.
  • The third is by Julian Stern, Professor of Education and Religion at BGU and the President of the ISRS, on The Art, Literature and Music of Solitude.  This will be accompanied by a book launch of his book of the same title.

We would like to mention various publishing possibilities related to the conference. 

– There are editors of several journals who would welcome submissions on solitude.  The Journal of Silence Studies in Education, based in Australia, Paedagogia Christiana, based in Poland, and The British Journal of Religious Education, based in the UK, would all welcome such submissions.

– The ISRS has a monograph series with Bloomsbury, on Solitude Studies.  Editors of that series will be at this conference, and will be inviting and/or commissioning contributions to the series.  Each volume in the series can be a conventional single-author monograph, or can be an edited collection.

– Directly related to this conference, we will be inviting and/or commissioning chapter authors for an edited contribution to the ISRS Solitude Studies series with Bloomsbury.  This has the provisional title of Solitude at the Edge: Liminal Loneliness, and it is to be edited by Richard Cleveland of Georgia Southern University, USA, and Rafał Iwański of the University of Szczecin, Poland.


Thursday 25th April 2024

2.30-3.30 pm Meeting with Alison Baker, Bloomsbury Publishing: demystifying book publishing, for early career researchers (Room 13)

4.00 pm Opening of the conference: Julian Stern, the President of the ISRS (Room 13)

Welcome by: Professor Karen Stanton, Vice-Chancellor of the Bishop Grosseteste University and by Professor Waldemar Tarczyński, Rector of the University of Szczecin Chair: Julian Stern

4.30-5.30 pm Keynote session by Michael Cholbi, Professor and Personal Chair in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland: Attention, Solitude, and the Social Dimensions of Grief (40 minutes plus 20 minutes discussion) (Room 13) Chair: Julian Stern

6.00 pm Gala Dinner (Refectory)

Friday 26th April 2024

9.00 am Karl Stern The Artist and Solitude (and introduction to the exhibition) Chair: Małgorzata Wałejko (Room 13)

9.30 am Panel session: Mapping the Field: Challenges and Futures, with attendance of distinguished experts: Sandra Leanne Bosacki (Brock University, Canada), Eva Alerby (Luleå University of Technology, Sweden) Piotr Domeracki (Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland) Chair Dat Bao (Monash University, Australia) (including general discussion) (Room 13)

10.45 am Coffee break (Room 13)

11.00 am Parallel session 1: Understanding Solitude

Each paper 20 minutes plus ten minutes discussion

Moderator: Julian Stern (Room 13)

  • Piotr Domeracki, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland: Pejorativisation of Solitude. A Narratological Deception?
  • Leslie J. Francis, Bishop Grosseteste University, UK: Alone but not Lonely: Conceptualising, Measuring, and Valuing Introversion within Empirical Theology
  • Piotr Błaszczyk, SWPS University, Poland; Marta Roczniewska, SWPS University, Poland; Ewelina Purc, The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland: (Un)shared Reality: How Does a Lack of Common Perspectives in the Nation Affect an Individual

Moderator: Aleksander Cywiński (John Tomlinson Room)

  • Marcin Muszyński, University of Łódź, Poland: The Spectrum of Being Alone
  • Randolph J.K. Ellis, Bishop Grossteste University, UK: At the volcano’s lip. A dynamic dimension of solitude
  • Elżbieta Dubas, University of Łódź, Poland: Aloneness as a Difficult Situation – the Burden of Loneliness and the Experience of Positive Solitude

12.30 pm Lunch (Refectory)

1.30 pm Parallel session 2: Solitude at the Edge: Understanding Loneliness

Each paper 20 minutes plus ten minutes discussion

Moderator: Małgorzata Wałejko (Room 13)

  • Małgorzata Wałejko, University of Szczecin, Poland: Abandoned by Myself. Forms of Self-Rejection
  • Yordanka Dimcheva, University of Birmingham, UK: Feeling ‘Cut-Off’ from the World: Phenomenological Experiences of Lonely Grieving and Counteractive Commemorative Commitments of Bereaved Parents in the Aftermath of Terrorism Violence in France (2015-16)
  • Amelia Reszka, Julia Jordan, Schoolgirls from 14 High School, Szczecin, Poland:  Less than 86 Percent. High School Students in the Fight Against Youth Loneliness 

Moderator: Richard Cleveland (John Tomlinson Room)

  • Rafał Iwański, Edyta Sielicka, University of Szczecin, Poland: Loneliness after Loss. Bereaved Carers
  • Lorena Hall, Bishop Grosseteste University, UK: Loneliness and Epistemic Injustice in Constant Loss for People with Learning Disabilities
  • Anna Szafranek, University of Białystok, Poland: Loneliness in the Situation of Violence Experienced by Elderly People

3.30 pm Coffee Break (Room 13)

3.45 pm Parallel session 3: Case Studies

Each paper 20 minutes plus ten minutes discussion

Moderator: Francis Davis (Room 13)

  • Francis Davis, Bishop Grosseteste University and Birmingham University, UK: Accounting for English Monasticism: Exploring the Enterprise of Christian Contemplative Orders
  • Marta Ciechowicz, University of Wroclaw, PL: The Historian’s Solitude: Examining the Life and Work of Joachim Lelewel (1786-1861)
  • Kalina Kukiełko, Aleksander Cywiński, University of Szczecin, Poland: Loneliness of the Artist: Daphne Oram and Her World of Electronic Music

Moderator: Barbara Żakowska (John Tomlinson Room)

  • Barbara Żakowska, University of Szczecin, Poland: Solitude at the Border. A Story of a Borderlander
  • Mauro Fornasiero, independent researcher, UK: Exploring Silence as a Spiritual Practice amongst Retiring Ministers in the Church of England
  • Richard Cleveland, Georgia Southern University, US: Standing Alone or Alone Standing: Law Enforcement Officers Experiencing Solitude

6.00 pm Dinner (Refectory)

Saturday 27th April 2024

9.30 am Keynote session by Julian Stern, Professor of Education and Religion at BGU and the President of the ISRS, on The Art, Literature and Music of Solitude. This will be accompanied by a book launch of his book of the same title. Chair: Rafał Iwański

10.30 am Coffee break

10.45 am Parallel session 4: Contexts of Solitude

Each paper 20 minutes plus ten minutes discussion

Moderator: Gillian Simpson (Room 13)

  • Gillian Simpson, Bishop Grosseteste University, UK: Re-imagining Community: an Autoethnographic Exploration of a Christening as a Movement from Alienation to Belonging
  • Seiko Harumi, University of London, UK: Nexus of L2 Classroom Interaction and Language Socialisation: Loneliness to Togetherness
  • Claudia Capancioni, Bishop Grosseteste University, UK: On the Value of the Solitary State in Nineteenth-Century Literature

Moderator: Kalina Kukiełko (John Tomlinson Room)

  • Sunny Dhillon, Bishop Grosseteste University, UK: A Gentle Dissolve: Knowledge, Wisdom and Letting Go
  • Joanna Nowicka, The Angelus Silesius University of Applied Sciences in Wałbrzych, Poland: Loneliness and Silence in the Context of Business
  • David Weir, York St John University, UK: Solitude in Work, Play and Leisure in Nineteenth Century England

12.00 Plenary session and summary of the conference: Julian Stern, Małgorzata Wałejko, Rafał Iwański (Board of the ISRS) (Room 13)

Lunch available for those staying on (Refectory)

Keynote Speakers

Michael Cholbi

Attention, Solitude, and the Social Dimensions of Grief

Withdrawal from others is a common feature of the grief we undergo in response to others’ deaths. Such withdrawal often takes the form of an unwelcome loneliness. However, such withdrawal may also represent a desirable form of solitude inasmuch as it amounts to a prolonged instance of attention directed at the bereaved’s relationship with the deceased, a relationship that has been transformed by the latter’s death. Viewing grief not as an emotion or a mood but as an instance of emotionally saturated attention can thus illuminate how the social withdrawal characteristic of grief can benefit us.

Michael Cholbi is Professor and Personal Chair in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He has published widely in ethical theory, practical ethics, and the philosophy of death and dying. His books include Suicide: The Philosophical Dimensions (Broadview, 2011) and Grief: A Philosophical Guide (Princeton University Press, 2022). He is the editor of several scholarly collections, including Immortality and the Philosophy of Death (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015);  and the Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Suicide (Oxford University Press, 2024). He is the co-editor of the textbook Exploring the Philosophy of Death and Dying: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives (Routledge, 2020). His essay “Empathy and Psychopaths’ Inability to Grieve” was awarded the 2022 Royal Institute of Philosophy Essay Prize. Professor Cholbi is the founder of the International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. He serves as an associate editor of the journal Ethical Theory and Moral Practice and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Philosophy, Social Theory and Practice, and Philosophical Quarterly.

Julian Stern

“The Art, Literature and Music of Solitude”

This presentation is a thematic analysis of various aspects of solitude, silence and loneliness, from the ancient world to the present day.  The themes include exile (expulsion from a community), ecstasy (getting ‘out of oneself’) and enstasy (being comfortable within oneself), through to the Romantic idea of the artist as solitary.  There is work on aloneness in and through nature, and on alienation and its emotions.  We will touch on modernism and postmodernism as presenting new forms of solitude in the twentieth century, and how, more recently, there have been attempts to ‘recover’ the self, through therapeutic uses of the arts. All of these types and experiences of aloneness are described through the lenses of artistic, literary and musical forms of expression, as aloneness is not only explored and articulated through these art forms, but is in many ways created through these art forms.  The presentation coincides with the launch of Julian’s latest book, also, coincidentally, called The Art, Literature and Music of Solitude.

Julian Stern is Professor of Education and Religion at Bishop Grosseteste University, President of the International Society for Research on Solitude, General Secretary of ISREV: the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values, and Editor of the British Journal of Religious Education.  He was a school teacher for fourteen years, and has worked in universities for more than thirty years.  Julian is widely published, with nineteen books (plus five second or subsequent editions), contributions to twenty-eight other books, and over thirty peer-reviewed articles.  Books include The Art, Literature and Music of Solitude (2024), Middle Leadership in Education: Care, Carefulness and Being ‘Caute’ in the Middle (2022), The Bloomsbury Handbook of Solitude, Silence and Loneliness (edited with Christopher A Sink, Małgorzata Wałejko and Wong Ping Ho, 2022), Mastering Primary Religious Education (with Maria James, 2019), A Philosophy of Schooling: Care and Curiosity in Community (2018, @2018Care), Can I Tell You About Loneliness (2017), Virtuous Educational Research: Conversations on Ethical Practice (2016), Loneliness and Solitude in Schools: How to Value Individuality and Create an Enstatic School (2014), and The Spirit of the School (2009).  He can be contacted by phone on 07422 688964 and by email on  He podcasts on Just Writing at

Applications and fees

The submission of abstracts will be welcome till the Friday 5th April. (Later submissions will be considered if there is still room on the programme.) Scheduled speaking time up to 20 minutes.

Participation will require a fee for refreshments and conference materials (20% off for students and ISRS members; no accommodation included*).

  • General Attendees £135.00
  • BGU and University of Szczecin Staff and Students, Members of ISRS £108.00

We are looking forward to meeting you!

If you want to speak at the conference, use the form.

Complete the form and send it to us.


If you want to pay for participation in the conference or book a room at the compus, use the link

Venue of the conference

Bishop Grosseteste University, Longdales Road, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England

Lincoln is in the heart of England on the East Midlands, ideally place to give you easy access to Nottingham, Sheffield and the coast. It’s got good rail and road links with the rest of the UK as well which makes travelling around much easier.

The BGU Campus is located in the Cathedral Quarter of the city only 5 minutes walk away from the magnificent Lincoln Cathedral, the historic Castle and the trendy boutique shops of uphill Lincoln.

For more information on how to find us click here

Elizabeth and Richard (6)