The award of a University of Brighton sabbatical - in semester 1, 2010-11 - provided Foxcroft with a period of sustained research, culminating in a field-trip to Mexico City, Cuernavaca, and Oaxaca. This enabled him to extend current international Malcolm Lowry scholarship by incorporating an analysis of Aztec and Zapotec world-views through a detailed study of the origins of the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival. This aspect of Foxcroft’s world-leading research forms part of a larger, ongoing investigation into the influence of various cultures and civilizations on the life and work of Malcolm Lowry, a much neglected twentieth-century, English Modernist writer. It also involves scrutinizing Lowry’s literary works and correspondence for key sources of ethnographic and psychogeographical influences.
During the sixteen-day field-trip to Mexico in October – November 2010 Foxcroft engaged in discussions with specialists and gathered resource materials. Visits were made to the Museum of Anthropology and the Teotihuacan pyramids (in pursuit of the origins of Aztec and Zapotec culture), the Leon Trotsky Museum (in connection with Lowry’s Under the Volcano (1947)), and the Frida Kahlo Museum (in the context of European avant-garde and surrealist influences) – all in Mexico City.
In Cuernavaca the Day of the Dead Festival - the hub of Under the Volcano, with its blend of Aztec, Zapotec, and Spanish-Mexican culture and customs - was witnessed first-hand, as it had been by Lowry in 1936. In the Valley of Oaxaca in Southern Mexico, the pre-Columbian archaeological sites of Monte Albán and Mitla - to which Lowry refers in Dark as the Grave wherein my Friend is Laid (1968) - were scrutinized. Foxcroft also interviewed a Zapotec specialist in connection with the Day of the Dead Festival. For the purposes of both teaching and research, he assembled a photographic diary of the psychogeographic impact of Cuernavaca, Mexico City, and Oaxaca on Malcolm Lowry, incorporating the places which the latter visited and wrote about in Under the Volcano and Dark as the Grave wherein my Friend is Laid.
Furthermore, Foxcroft’s research trip to Mexico enabled him to extend his international profile. He established a network of links with Mexican experts on Malcolm Lowry, for example, with Raúl Ortiz y Ortiz (a former Mexican ambassador, an influential writer, and the translator of Under the Volcano into Mexican Spanish); Alberto Rebollo of the Malcolm Lowry Foundation; John Prigge, Director of the Museo de la Casona Spencer in Cuernavaca; Óscar Menéndez, an international film director (famous for his film, Malcolm Lowry En México) (1987); and Ángel Cuevas, Editorial Co-ordinator for publications of the Instituto de Cultura de Morelos – with all of whom he has been working closely.
During his research visit Foxcroft delivered a keynote lecture at the 4th International Malcolm Lowry Colloquium: A Tribute to Raúl Ortiz y Ortiz, held by the Malcolm Lowry Foundation at the Museo de la Casona Spencer in Cuernavaca, Mexico on 2nd November, 2010 (http://malcolmlowry.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Foxcroft). He was also invited to submit - for subsequent publication in a monograph on Lowry - a paper entitled ‘In the Maelstrom of Malcolm Lowry’s Romantic Imagination: The Atonement of La Mordida’, in Dany Hurpin et al, eds, Sobre Lowry. Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico: La Cartonera: 165-82 (November 2012) (http://www.edicioneslacartonera.blogspot.co.uk).
Foxcroft’s research sabbatical resulted in further invitations to deliver papers (including a keynote speech) at various global conferences on Lowry and the Day of the Dead at the famous Centre Culturel International de Cerisy-la-Salle in France, the University of Kent/Canterbury Cathedral Lodge in the UK, and at LibrAsia2013 in Osaka, Japan, as well as a range of articles on Malcolm Lowry, Anton Chekhov, and Toni Morrison submitted for publication in prominent international periodicals.