The Faculty of Arts' English Literature research seminar series returns with an impressive line-up of speakers
05 Oct 2011
The University of Brighton Faculty of Art's successful English Literature research seminar series returns for a third year with an impressive line-up of speakers.
The seminar series runs from October to May and will be led by University of Brighton lecturer and researcher Nigel Foxcroft, who specialises in modern and contemporary English, American and Russian literature.
Seminars take place on Wednesdays at the university's Falmer Campus. Research papers last approximately 25-30 minutes and will be followed by a discussion. All are welcome.
Wednesdays: Reception at 16.30 for seminar at 17.00
Venue: C122 Lecture Theatre, Checkland Building, Falmer (unless stated otherwise)
19 October: 'In It for the Long-Haul: Margaret Atwood, Sustainability, Managing the Writing Energy, and Me'
Prof Gina Wisker, Head of the CLT, University of Brighton
This is a talk in two parts. The first part looks fairly straightforwardly at Toronto based Margaret Atwood's enduring theme of sustainability, ecology, and avoidance of apocalypse. In so doing it explores her work, taking a path from the eco feminist 'surfacing' in the 1970s - quickly mentioning female spite and vampires in Cats Eye and the Robber Bride - to the 1990s and lands on her end of the world sustainability and ecology sci-fi novels, Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. It argues that with her engagement in such crucial issues she enables us as readers to engage our own value systems and care about the characters, about writing and the world.
The second part is more reflective and might be useful for researchers and writers because it is about writing for publication and explores Prof Gina Wisker's own long-haul research journey, working with teaching and latterly writing about her work and getting it published.
Prof Gina Wisker researches and publishes on women's, Gothic, postcolonial and creative writing, on the one hand, and postgraduate student learning and supervisory practices, on the other. Active in the Staff and Educational Development Association, she has run workshops and given keynotes at a number of learning and teaching conferences in Australasia, South Africa, Sweden, Singapore and Ireland, as well as for the British Council in Saudi Arabia.
9 November: 'Bohemia in the Colonies: George Augustus Sala, Marcus Clarke, and the Age of Gas'
Dr Peter Blake, School of Humanities, University of Brighton
John Sutherland described Marcus Clarke’s novel, For The Terms of his Natural Life (1870-2), as "the greatest Australian novel of the nineteenth century". It is a historical and social problem novel that graphically depicts the barbaric conditions of transported convicts in Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land. But it also contains a modern sensation narrative with its complicated inheritance plot culminating in a fictional portrayal of the contemporary and celebrated Tichborne Claimant case of the early 1870s.
Well known for its citational and intertextual quality, the novel’s influences include Charles Reade’s It Is Never Too Late To Mend (1856), with its sensational documentation of convict brutality and the hardships of colonial life in Australia, and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (1862) and its sympathetic treatment of the convict Jean Valjean. Clarke was also a keen student of writers like Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bret Harte, Charles Dickens and Honore de Balzac. Not so well documented, however, is the influence of a British popular author of the 1850s and 60s who, after foregoing novel writing to concentrate on journalism, would become the most popular correspondent of the age, George Augustus Sala. This paper will trace the effect of Sala’s neglected novels and Bohemian journalism on For the Terms of His Natural Life. In the process the paper will seek to determine how a colonial ex-sheep farmer from Melbourne was able to outdo his London and Parisian counterparts and produce the masterpiece that Sala and his fellow Bohemians were never able to achieve.
Dr Peter Blake’s research has focused primarily on the prolific nineteenth century journalist George Augustus Sala, who wrote essays for a wide variety of newspapers and periodicals including the Daily Telegraph and Charles Dickens’s Household Words magazine.
He completed his PhD thesis, fully funded by the AHRC and entitled 'George Augustus Sala: The Personal Style of a Public Writer', in 2010 from the University of Sussex. He spent four weeks working in the Sala Archives at Yale University’s Beinecke Library and has given conference papers on the subject of Sala and Dickens in London and America. Dr. Blake taught as an Associate Tutor at the University of Sussex from 2008 and was appointed Lecturer at the University of Brighton in 2011.
'Why Shamanism? Reflections on the Return of a Repressed Archetype (with reference to the work of Ted Hughes, Tomas Transtromer and Kenneth White)'
Prof Michael Tucker, School of Humanities, University of Brighton
There has been a strong cross-disciplinary revival of interest today in the phenomenon of shamanism: the pre-Judeao-Christian, animistic cultivation of ecstatic states of consciousness outlined by the historian of religions, Mircea Eliade in his classic study, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy.
The paper/presentation argues that a creative awareness of the pattern(s) or poetics of shamanic consciousness can shed fructifying light on key developments in romantic, modern, and contemporary Western art culture and argues its case with particular reference to the work of poets and writers Ted Hughes, Tomas Transtromer, and Kenneth White.
Michael Tucker, D Litt, is Professor of Poetics in the School of Humanities, University of Brighton. A contributor to Grove Dictionary of Art, he has published widely in the fields of visual art, music and poetry, including Dreaming With Open Eyes: The Shamanic Spirit In 20th-Century Art & Culture (1992), Alan Davie: The Quest For The Miraculous (1993), Jan Garbarek: Deep Song(1998), Dream Traces: A Celebration of Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art (2003), Grounding A World: Essays on the Work of Kenneth White (2005), Eye Music(2007), Andrzej Jackowski: The Remembered Present (2009) and Ian McKeever: Paintings (2009). He has been invited to lecture at many universities and arts institutions across Europe including Scandinavia and the UK.
14 December: 'Balanchine and the Elephants: The Sphere of the Arbitrary'
Prof Deborah Philips, School of Humanities, University of Brighton
[Location: W100, Westlain]
Professors, Bourdieu claims in his book Homo Academicus, are the guardians of cultural legitimation. That is, that university professors are in a position to define what is culturally 'legitimate' and what is not. In another 1990 essay, Bourdieu set up a sociological distinction between the 'Sphere of Legitimacy' and the 'Sphere of the Arbitrary'. The 'Sphere of Legitimacy', he argues, is largely designated by academics in the Humanities, who decree what is 'good' culturally and what is not. These Professors are the legislators for what belongs in the realm of High Art. 'The Sphere of the Arbitrary' is, on the other hand, defined by what Bourdieu describes as "non- legitimate authorities". These 'non-legitimate authorities' include: marketing, journalism and advertising. That is, the 'Sphere of the Arbitrary' is commercial, commodified and popular.
The Ballet is generally thought of as 'legitimate' culture - it unapologetically belongs to the sphere of High Art, and Balanchine, of all choreographers, has produced a list of consecrated works. His choreography is spare, elegant and proudly Modernist: the Balanchine ballet would seem far removed from the 'Sphere of the Arbitrary'. But Balanchine also did the choreography, to music by Stravinsky, for the Circus Polka. Stravinsky and Balanchine are clearly bona fide producers of what Bourdieu would categorise as 'consecrated works'. They are both practitioners of the avant garde, and both would seem to firmly belong to the 'Sphere of Legitimacy' - to the realm of culture that is admired and legitimated by audiences, critics and professors. With titles such as 'Agon', 'Apollo' and 'Serenade', Balanchine ballets are more consecrated than many, with their insistent references to classical myth and to classical music. But the Circus Polka is rather different from other works by Balanchine and Stravinsky, and it carries with it distinct elements of the 'Sphere of the Arbitrary'.
Deborah Philips is Professor of Literature and Cultural History at the University of Brighton. Her research is concerned with the interface between literary genres and everyday life and also with the boundaries between 'High Art' and 'Popular Culture'. Her publications include Fairground Attractions: A Genealogy of the Pleasure Ground (Bloomsbury, 2012), Writing Romance: Women's Fiction 1945-2005 (Continuum, 2006) with Ian Haywood, Brave New Causes (Cassell, 1999) and, with Liz Linington and Debra Penman, Writing Well: Creative Writing and Mental Health (Jessica Kingsley, 1998). She was one of the organisers of the 'What's so Funny?: The Languages of Laughter' at the British Library in January, 2011.
Wednesday 29 February
'What happened to the Corbetts: Imagining and Preparing for War in 1930’s Britain'
Dr Lucy Noakes, School of Humanities, Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton
Venue: C122 Lecture Theatre, Checkland Building, Falmer Campus, University of Brighton
The historian Richard Overy has recently called the 1930s ‘the morbid age’ arguing that during this decade British culture became obsessed with death, destruction and even the end of the world. This paper takes up this theme to argue that the cultural memory of the First World War, together with emergent new technologies acted to shape interwar culture, focusing on the ways in which a ‘coming war’ was imagined in British culture [both lived and textual] and the impact of such imaginings on preparation for this war.
Lucy Noakes is a social and cultural historian in the Faculty of Arts. She works on the experience and memory of warfare in twentieth century Britain and publications include the monographs War and the British  and Women and the British Army . She is currently working on a history of death, grief and bereavement in Second World War Britain for Manchester University Press.
Wednesday 14 March
'Is the End of the World the End of Children’s Literature?'
Dr Dave Simpson, School of Education, University of Brighton
Writers’ visions for the causes of the end of the world change over time. In children’s literature, the pandemic virus fears of the early 1970s become the nuclear threat of the 1980s and an environmental apocalypse from the 1990s onwards. Man exploits and destroys the environment with which he co-exists. The end of the world as a fight to the death, military conflict between nation states is now presented as something which is world-wide, ecologically-based and transcending national boundaries. This work in progress paper explores representations of absence, adolescence and adulthood in apocalyptic children’s fiction. For what is adulthood if there is little or no likelihood of becoming an adult?
Dave Simpson works in the School of Education where he teaches on undergraduate ITE (Initial Teacher Education) and post-graduate courses. He has published work on drama in education and is currently working on a collection of essays about the representations of the end of the world in children’s fiction.
Location: C218, Checkland Building, Falmer Campus.
Wednesday 2 May
'The Library of a Seventeenth-Century Actor'
Prof David Roberts, Head of the School of English, Birmingham City University
[Location: C218, Checkland]
Recent theatre historiography has been much concerned with memorial practices in relation both to the now largely vanished world of repertory theatre and the ever-burgeoning traffic of the internet. In this talk I situate recent arguments in the context of one of the most understudied but most distinctive texts of seventeenth-century theatre history: the library catalogue of Thomas Betterton, the leading actor of the Restoration period. A unique guide to the actor's social, intellectual and 'memorial' milieu, the catalogue presents a challenge to recent accounts of the status of his profession in the late Seventeenth Century.
David Roberts is Professor and Head of English at Birmingham City University. His 2010 biography of Thomas Betterton was published by Cambridge University Press, for whom he is now writing Restoration Plays and Players. In 2013 his edition of Betterton's library catalogue, the first ever, is published by the Society for Theatre Research.
For further information, please contact: Nigel H. Foxcroft, School of Humanities, University of Brighton, Falmer, firstname.lastname@example.org.