25 November 2012

Literature and the Secret State


Please join us for the fourth seminar of the academic year:


Literature and the Secret State:
On the Secret State, Government and Propaganda in Literature
Dr. James Smith 

Durham University

***
Wednesday, 5th December 2012
5:30 – 7:00 pm
Department of English Studies, Hallgarth House Seminar Room

***


Speaker: Dr. James Smith, Durham University
ABSTRACT
Writers have had a long and complicated relationship with the covert arms of the British government: some major authors have been the subjects of state surveillance, others have been employed to undertake secret work, and a few managed to combine both roles at the same time. This is an issue that has come into particular focus over the past decade, with the declassification of a range of previously restricted files from Britain's intelligence and propaganda agencies (mainly covering the period from the early twentieth century through to the early stages of the Cold War). These files have revealed not only the extent of the dossiers compiled on key individuals and organisations, but also other aspects of how the secret state interacted with British culture during the twentieth century, ranging from the censorship of films to the recruitment of authors as covert propagandists.

In this paper, I shall talk about the resources that have recently become available in the National Archives, discuss some of the more interesting documents and issues that have emerged from these files, and speculate on the potential for future research.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
 James Smith is a lecturer in English Studies at Durham, and his book British Writers and MI5 Surveillance, 1930-1960, will be appearing soon.

For more information, find us on facebook, follow us on Twitter (@inventionsSem) or check our blog: inventionsofthetext.blogspot.com

14 November 2012

Literature & Law in Some Medieval Narratives


Please join us for the third seminar of the academic year:


Literature and Law
in some Medieval Narratives 

Professor Elizabeth Archibald

Durham University

***
Wednesday, 21st November2012
5:30 – 7:00 pm
Department of English Studies, Hallgarth House Seminar Room

***


Speaker: Professor Elizabeth Archibald, Durham University
ABSTRACT
Many medieval narratives include a legal scene, suggesting that readers/audiences were keenly interested in matters of justice and legal procedure. Often such scenes are connected to adulterous love affairs or to treason, or to both combined, but hunting is also a significant concern. In this talk I will discuss texts including Marie de France’s Lanval and the Middle English version Sir Launfal; the Latin Arthurian romance Historia Meriadoci; the Wife of Bath’s Tale and some analogues; and Malory.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Elizabeth Archibald is Principal of St Cuthbert’s Society and Professor of English; she arrived in Durham from Bristol in September 2012. Her research is interdisciplinary and focuses on reception, particularly in relation to the classical tradition and medieval romance (especially the Arthurian legend); she is also very interested in the interface between literature and social history. Her publications include Apollonius of Tyre: Medieval and Renaissance Themes and Variations (1991); A Companion to Malory (1996), co-edited with A.S.G. Edwards; Incest and the Medieval Imagination (2001); and The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend (2009), co-edited with Ad Putter. She is currently working on a study of baths and bathing in the Middle Ages, and co-editing collections of essays on the reception of the Troy story, and on Shakespeare and the Middle Ages. She is the co-editor of the journal Arthurian Literature.

For more information, find us on facebook, follow us on Twitter (@inventionsSem) or check our blog: inventionsofthetext.blogspot.com

4 November 2012

Literature & Medicine: Where Does It Hurt, Exactly? Medicine, Metaphor, & Speaking to Doctors in the Middle Ages


Please join us for the second seminar of the academic year:


Literature & Medicine: 

Where Does It Hurt, Exactly? 

Medicine, Metaphor, & 

Speaking to Doctors in the Middle 

Ages

Dr. Jamie McKinstry

Durham University

***
Wednesday, 7th November2012
5:30 – 7:00 pm
Department of English Studies, Hallgarth House Seminar Room

***


Speaker: Dr. Jamie McKinstry, Durham University
ABSTRACT
Medicine and metaphor are undoubtedly intertwined: when we are ill we often employ emotive imagery and appropriate comparisons to express the scale and severity of pain and discomfort to others, or even to understand our own condition.

This paper examines the expression of illness in the Middle Ages and, subsequently, the responses of doctors to their patients. The medical profession was advertised in a way that appealed to real experiences of patients through a combination of emotive, but authoritative, language. Chaucer’s “Physician’s Prologue” explores the power of such language and metaphor in the diagnosis of disease whilst the importance of the suffering, bleeding, breathing body is emphasised in a poem by William Dunbar about the alchemist John Damian. These works highlight the relationship between mind, body and affect and the literary depictions will be compared to medieval medical scholasticism and recent work in the fields of neurobiological dynamics.

The paper then considers the abilities of literature to exaggerate a corporeal state as explored in the Middle English romance of Sir Orfeo and Dunbar’s “Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins.” This discussion will conclude by asking what literature can contribute to medicine, examined
through another poem by Dunbar about a headache. This piece underlines the significance of metaphor, corporeal sensitivity, and physical expression, but also highlights the important relationship between literature and medicine. The medieval works implicitly recognise the crucial dialogue that exists between disciplines and which, here, produces a more organic, accurate impression of human life, illness, and suffering.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
 Dr. Jamie McKinstry holds a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from Durham University. His Ph.D., awarded in July 2012, examined the creative uses of memory in Middle English romances. Jamie is a member of the Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Centre for Medical Humanities at Durham and a former Chairman of the postgraduates in the IMRS. His current research is based in medical humanities and focuses on the corporeal experience of ‘depression’ in the Middle Ages. He has presented papers on a wide range of medieval and Renaissance literary topics including memory, the body, elegy, and medieval medicine and has also published in these areas. His most recent article, on memory and trauma in medieval romances, was published in the international BMJ journal Medical Humanities in Autumn 2012.


For more information, find us on facebook, follow us on Twitter (@inventionsSem) or check our blog: inventionsofthetext.blogspot.com

20 October 2012

Literature & Travel: Irish Writers in Japan


Please join us for the first seminar of the academic year:

Literature and Travel: 
Irish Writers in Japan 

Nicoletta Asciuto & Amy Finch
Durham University

***
Wednesday, 31st October 2012
5:30 – 7:00 pm
Department of English Studies, Hallgarth House Seminar Room

***

"GHOSTS AND BUTTERFLIES: SUPERNATURAL STORIES BETWEEN IRELAND AND JAPAN"
Nicoletta Asciuto, English Studies, Durham
ABSTRACT
Nicoletta's paper will deal with supernatural stories written by William Butler Yeats and Lafcadio Hearn and their recurring images of ghosts and butterflies as spirits of the dead, showing how they actually have much in common - a shared sensibility to supernatural, and a similar lack of distinction
between dream and reality - despite their being written in two countries miles apart from each other.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
 Nicoletta completed her BA in Foreign Languages and Literatures at Universit√† Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, in 2009. She then moved to Trinity College Dublin for her master's degree in Comparative Literature, and she is now a PhD candidate at Durham, focussing on T. S. Eliot's imagery of light. Her interests range from cinema and photography to Chinese and Japanese culture.

&

"JAPAN AND EARLY IRISH LYRICS IN THE POETRY OF JOHN HEWITT, SEAMUS HEANEY AND PAUL MULDOON"
Amy Finch, English Studies, Durham
ABSTRACT
Amy's paper argues that contemporary Northern Irish poets identify a fundamental similarity between early Irish and Japanese poetry. Three poets - John Hewitt, Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon - explore the creative possibilities opened up by such cross-cultural dialogue. 
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Amy completed a Bachelor's degree in English Literature at Durham University in 2009, then a Master's degree in English Literature (1900-present) at the University of Oxford. She is now a second year PhD candidate at Durham University, focusing on mid-twentieth century Northern Irish poetry.

For more information, find us on facebook, follow us on Twitter (@inventionsSem) or check our blog: inventionsofthetext.blogspot.com

2 October 2012

Inventions of the Text 2012 - Call for Papers!!!


After the last year’s success, the Inventions of the Text, a staff-student fortnightly seminar series is back for 2012!

This lecture series is organised by the Department of English Studies at Durham University, and gives PhD students within the Department an opportunity to present their work.

Lectures should be of 45 minutes' duration, with extra time for questions. Joint lecture proposals of an hour's duration are also welcome. The theme for this year’s lectures is “Literature and …” This is meant to encourage an interdisciplinary approach. Possible lecture topics could be “Literature and War”, “Literature and Philosophy”, “Literature and Art”, and so on.

For more information about Inventions of the Text 2012, please feel free to e-mail us at inventionsofthetext@gmail.com, or visit our blog at inventionsofthetext.blogspot.co.uk.

DATES and VENUE:
The lectures will be held fortnightly on Wednesday afternoons, at the English Department.

DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS: 7th October, 2012
Please e-mail us a short lecture proposal of up to 250 words, including a tentative title.

Please feel free to e-mail us in case of further questions.


Amy Finch, Natasha Cooper, and Nicoletta Asciuto

21 September 2012

Inventions of the Text 2012-3

We are currently organising the series for 2012-3. More details will be posted soon.

26 May 2012

final seminar of the year


Please join us for the final seminar of the year:

Possible and Fictional Worlds
 Professor Jonathan Hart
Durham University

***
Wednesday, 30th May 2012
5:00 – 6:30 pm
Department of English Studies, Hallgarth House Seminar Room

***
ABSTRACT
Whereas the possible world of literature, or what Aristotle called poetry, is a fictional world and is a representation of, or alternative to, the actual world, history is about the actual world, no matter how many possibilities it considers and how literary its technique. Even if in theory it is difficult to distinguish between the fictional and historical, the possible and the actual, context does matter, and an event that has actual existence is taken to be different from one that is possible or part of an alternative world. The realized and the putative are experienced differently in practice but are difficult to distinguish in theory.  To understand fictionality, an interdisciplinary approach is necessary. In this context, literary theorists have been interested in fiction, and philosophers have been concerned with the ways fictional texts challenged notions of logic and semantics. This moment of the meeting (sometimes uneasy meeting) of the possible and fictional worlds debate connects with my own interest in the texture and contexture of literary texts as well as the relation between word and world, poetry and history.  Fiction may be a possible impossibility. There is one actual world made of many. Metafictional experiments expand our view of worlds. As a method, which demonstrates variety among its proponents, fictional world theory has expanded our heterogeneous methodology. We now have more tools and choices in coming to terms with actual and possible worlds, with the nature of fiction.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Before joining Department of English Studies, Durham this academic year, Professor Hart taught at University of Alberta, Canada. His teaching and research areas are Shakespeare and Renaissance/early modern studies; comparative literature and comparative history; theory and historiography; colonial and postcolonial studies; Canadian culture; early comparative American studies (especially the ‘Atlantic world').

For more information, find us on facebook, follow us on Twitter (@inventionsSem) or check our blog: inventionsofthetext.blogspot.com

21 May 2012


Inventions of the Text: Texts in Progress

Please join us for the forthcoming seminar featuring two papers on: 

Reading the Internet:



Google and the Decline of Obscurity
John Clegg, English Studies, Durham

&

A work of art in the age of digital reproduction: contemporary limits of literary (mis)appropriation
Kaja Marczewska, English Studies,  Durham

***

23rd May 2012
5:00- 6:30
Department of English Studies, Hallgarth House, Hallgarth St., Durham

***




ABSTRACTS:

Google and the Decline of Obscurity
The rise of Google over the last decade has led to a substantial change in how we approach and apprehend poetry. My paper examines this change through the prism of George Steiner’s work on ‘contingent’ and ‘ontological’ difficulty. How has contingent difficulty been employed by poets over the last century, and for what purposes? How have readers responded, and how will the practice of reading change in an era in which contingent difficulty continues to decline? And what does Geoffrey Hill make of all this?
BIO
John Clegg is a PhD student in the Department of English at Durham, working on the Eastern European context of several contemporary English poets. His first poetry collection, Antler, was published by Salt in May 2012.

A work of art in the age of digital reproduction: contemporary limits of literary (mis)appropriation

This paper looks at the influence new technologies have on the way we currently approach concepts of originality, appropriation and plagiarism. Does the ease of accession and appropriating information online shift our understanding of what it means to plagiarise? Or are the margins of what is considered a creative activity gradually expanded to include the artistic potential the Internet offers? The talk will focus on two recent literary controversies, Michelle Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory (2010) and Helene Hegemann’s Axolodtl Roadkill (2010), to address these questions and offer an overview of the contemporary legal an literary debate on limits (of lack of thereof) of textual appropriation/adaptation/plagiarism.

BIO

Kaja Marczewska is a PhD student in the Department of English at Durham. Her research is funded by Durham Doctoral Scholarship and focuses on concepts of authorship, originality and plagiarism in contemporary literature.




Forthcoming seminars in the series:
30 May: Professor Jonathan Hart (Durham University)
CANCELLED: 6 June: Dr Sarah Wasson (Edinburgh Napier University) [please note that due to unforeseen circumstances this seminar had to be cancelled.]
For more information, find us on facebook, follow us on Twitter (@inventionsSem) or check our blog: inventionsofthetext.blogspot.com

2 May 2012

Inventions of the Text: Texts in Progress
Please join us for the second Easter Term seminar in the series:
Parental Stories in Dickens's Great Expectations
Professor Rachel Bowlby
UCL

***
Wednesday, 9th May
5:00 – 6:30 pm
Department of English Studies, Hallgarth House Seminar Room

***
ABSTRACT
Parenthood is a neglected topic in comparison with other elemental attachments (the passions of childhood or erotic love). But recent radical changes in typical family forms and in procreative possibilities (new reproductive technologies) expose the mutability and multiplicity of 'parentalities', creating new kinds of parental story and new questions about parenthood. Why do people want (or not want) to be parents? How has the 'choice' enabled by contraception changed the meaning of parenthood? Today, the positive choice to seek and have a child as a matter of personal fulfilment is accepted as valid for men as well as women, individuals as well as couples. But there are also antecedents to the contemporary orientation, sometimes in classical
texts where the parental story has up till now been side-lined. This lecture will look at one example of this phenomenon, Dickens's Great Expectations.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Professor Rachel Bowlby is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Northcliffe Professor of English at UCL. She has been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship from 2011-13.Since Just Looking, which was about novels about women and the culture of department stores, Rachel Bowlby has written several more books on consumer culture, including Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping, about the history of self-service and supermarkets. Shopping with Freud explored some connections between psychoanalysis and consumer psychology, a field of research that began at the same time as psychoanalysis. Two more books have also looked at changing psychological and literary notions of selfhood: Still Crazy After All These Years: Women, Writing and Psychoanalysis and, most recently, Freudian Mythologies: Greek Tragedy and Modern Identities. She also has a long-standing interest in literary theory, and has translated a number of books by contemporary French philosophers, including Derrida’s Of Hospitality and Paper Machine.
23 May: John Clegg (Durham University) and Kaja Marczewska (Durham University)
30 May: Professor Jonathan Hart (Durham University)
6 June: Dr Sarah Wasson (Edinburgh Napier University)
For more information, find us on facebook, follow us on Twitter (@inventionsSem) or check our blog: inventionsofthetext.blogspot.com

18 April 2012

Dr Peter Howarth,Queen Mary,University of London speaking about New Modernist Studies


Please join us for the first Easter Term seminar in the series:

New Modernist Studies
 Dr Peter Howarth
Queen Mary, University of London
***
Thursday, 26th April 2012
5:00 – 6:30 pm
Department of English Studies, Hallgarth House Seminar Room

***
ABSTRACT
Recent surveys of the 'New Modernist Studies' all confirm that one of its major trends is to attack the usual oppositions between an autonomous, formally distinctive modernist work and the cultural setting of modernity. The 'New Modernist Studies' has repeatedly shown how so-called rebellious works depend on the market and the mass media, and that the dynamics which used to privilege the work against its 'background' are actually visible in the general field of modern life. In this light, modernist form no longer looks as distinctive or interesting as it once did. Frank Kermode's Romantic Image (1957) was one of the first books to turn against New Critical accounts of modernist form, by arguing that the would-be autonomous modernist 'image' was subtly complicit with the alienated cultural conditions it was supposedly resisting. But the way in which his argument is framed suggests that a residue of organicist thinking is also present in the anti-formalism of the 'New Modernist Studies'. This paper will suggest that Kermode's theatrical model offers an alternative to both; the idea that modernist form might be making art from the cultural conditions of its mediation, circulation and distribution.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Peter Howarth is Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London. He is the author of British Poetry in the Age of Modernism (CUP, 2005) and The Cambridge Introduction to Modernist Poetry (2011).

9 May: Professor Rachel Bowlby (UCL)
23 May: John Clegg (Durham University) and Kaja Marczewska (Durham University)
30 May: Professor Jonathan Hart (Durham University)
6 June: Dr Sarah Wasson (Edinburgh Napier University)
For more information, find us on facebook, follow us on Twitter (@inventionsSem) or check our blog: inventionsofthetext.blogspot.com

6 March 2012

Professor Laura Marcus on Writing in the Cinema

Please join us for the final Epiphany Term seminar in the series:

Writing in the Cinema
 Professor Laura Marcus
Oxford University


***

Tuesday, 13th March 2012
4:30 – 6:00 pm
Elvet Riverside, ER149



ABSTRACT
This talk examines the ways in which the representation of authorship in film bears on the relationship between the visual and the verbal, the image and the word, which has been the ground of longstanding aesthetic debate. It looks at films and texts in which the transition between book and film, word and image, is foregrounded, thematically and through formal strategies. In a significant number of recent films, the writer, and often the screen writer, becomes a central figure, creating or created by his or her verbal/textual imaginings. This bears on the question of the primacy of the word or the image in cinema, and on the relationship between the word and the filmic world. The paper illustrates this discussion with examples from a range of films, including early Dickens' adaptations, Smoke (scripted by Paul Auster), and the recent film Howl.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
 Laura Marcus is Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature at Oxford and a Fellow of New College. She has published widely in the fields, of auto/biography, modernist literature and culture, and literature and film. Her book publications include Auto/biographical Discourses: Theory, Criticism, Practice; Virginia Woolf: Writers and their Work, The Tenth Muse: Writing about Cinema in the Modernist Period, and, as co-editor, The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century English Literature.


Forthcoming seminars in the series:

26 April: Dr Peter Howarth (Queen Mary, University of London)        
9 May: Professor Rachel Bowlby (UCL)
23 May: John Clegg (Durham University) and Kaja Marczewska (Durham University)
30 May: Professor Jonathan Hart (Durham University)
6 June: Dr Sarah Wasson (Edinburgh Napier University)

For more information, find us on facebook, follow us on Twitter (@inventionsSem) or check our blog: inventionsofthetext.blogspot.com