Posts Tagged material cultures

The experiment: Engaging undergraduates in advanced university research


It started out as an experiment. We took the brains of a dozen undergraduate students and carefully placed them into the flailing bodies of several research projects; we fired up the electricity (well, actually, set up a webpage) and … the Project Management and Research module was born.

I have become very fond of what we have all created this year. Anthony and I have worked together on projects for over a decade now (hard to believe, I know) and it seemed like a good idea to share some of what we have learned along the way and pass on our genuine enthusiasm for project-based work. In an academic environment that is increasingly stressing employability and the transferability of skills, this module ticks all the boxes. I hope that it has given our first cohort of students a taste of research in an academic context and the opportunity to exploit the talent they have and bring out new talents they never knew they had. Read the rest of this entry »

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Visiting speaker, 18 Mar 2014: Matt Rubery on the early history of audiobooks

Matthew Rubery (Queen Mary, London) will be presenting his paper, ‘How to Read a Talking Book’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 18 March 2014. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48.

2013.06.ruberyThe United States Library of Congress’s Talking Book Service was established in 1934 to provide books for war-blinded soldiers and blind civilians who could not read braille. The first recordings included the Bible, Shakespeare’s plays and best-selling novels. This presentation traces a series of controversies that arose soon afterward among the blind community over the appropriate way to narrate a talking book. Audiences faced a choice between a deliberately understated style that privileged the printed book and a theatrical style that took full advantage of the phonograph’s sound. Such disputes raise fundamental questions about the legitimacy of reading practices among people with visual disabilities and, ultimately, what it means to read a book. Read the rest of this entry »

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Visiting speaker, 19 Nov 2013: Ronan Deazley on comics, copyright and academia

Ronan Deazley (University of Glasgow) will be presenting his paper, ‘Comics, Copyright and Academic Publishing’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 19 November 2013. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 0.31.

2013.03.deazleyThis paper explores the culture of copyright clearance within the domain of scholarly communications through the prism of comics scholarship. It will be of interest to copyright scholars, as well as to academics working in the arts, humanities and social sciences who make use of copyright material in their research publications.

About the speaker
CCC_deazleyRonan Deazley is Professor of Copyright Law at the University of Glasgow and Founding Director of CREATe, the RCUK-funded Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy ( He is the author of numerous publications on the issue of copyright and intellectual property, including On the Origin of the Right to Copy: Charting the Movement of Copyright Law in Eighteenth Century Britain, 1695–1775 (2004) and Re-Thinking Copyright: History, Theory, Language (2006, 2008). Between 2006 and 2008 he was the UK national editor for an AHRC-funded digital resource concerning the history of copyright in Italy, France, Germany, the UK and the US: Primary Sources on Copyright 1450-1900. More recently, he secured £5.1M of RCUK funding to establish CREATe: the RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy.

Download a flyer for the talk (PDF).

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Visiting speaker, 29 Oct 2013: Stephen Bending on women and gardens in the 18th century

Stephen Bending (University of Southampton) will be presenting his paper, ‘Retirement and Disgrace: Women and Gardens in the Eighteenth Century’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 29 October 2013. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 0.31.

2013.01.bendingTraditional accounts of women in eighteenth-century gardens tend to emphasise flower gardens, piety and domestic retirement, but alongside this we should recognise an equally powerful image of women and gardens articulated in terms of sex, voyeurism, scandal and disgrace. This paper begins by outlining some of those conventional—and frequently male—accounts which align the garden with femininity, piety, and domesticity, but then turns to some less comfortable alternatives in order to explore what happens when women—rather than men—imagine themselves in the garden, how they engage with double standards, female desire, and the recognition that if the garden is a place of pleasure, it can also be a place of punishment and shame.

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Visiting speaker, 16 Apr 2013: Andrew Mangham on early forensics and 19th-century literature

Andrew Mangham (University of Reading) will be presenting his paper, ‘Bleeding Corpses and Other Nasties: Early Forensics and Popular Nineteenth-Century Literature’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 16 April 2013. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48.


2012.06.manghamThis paper gives an overview of the rise of forensic science in the early nineteenth century, and questions the role that popular short stories from periodicals like the Terrific Register had on popular ideas of evidence, truth, and guilt. In particular, I’ll focus on grisly images of bleeding corpses and live burials to show how the 1820s marked a period of change in the interpretation of anatomical evidence: benighted notions of natural justice were beginning to be superseded by a clinical approach to truth which privileged empirical detail and hard evidence.

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Visiting speaker, 26 Feb 2013: Nicola Watson on Walter Scott, Washington Irving and literary heritage

Nicola Watson (Open University) will be presenting her paper, ‘Transporting the Romantic: Sir Walter Scott, Washington Irving and the Romantic Writer’s House’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 26 February 2013. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48.


Poster for Nicola Watson's talk.This paper investigates the making of Washington Irving’s house in New York State, Sunnyside, as a reworking of Sir Walter Scott’s exercise in self-promotion at Abbotsford. It argues that Irving, having presented and explicated Scott’s home in Geoffrey Crayon’s Sketchbook to a wide public, especially in the States, consciously took Scott’s house as a model for his own display of himself as a romantic writer. Sunnyside rethinks Abbotsford by sentimental referencing, by reiterating the aesthetic of the collection, and in architectural terms. Most strikingly, it mimics Scott’s fantasia by embedding the writer’s house within a ‘heritage’ landscape itself produced by his own writing. The paper enquires as to how typical this project might have become for other romantic American authors, notably Fenimore Cooper, Henry Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The conclusion speculates on whether the romantic understanding of literary genius as most intensely expressed in houses and associated landscapes survived the Atlantic crossing intact, or whether it mutated into something distinctive in the environment of New England.

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Workshop on Oral Poetry Today, 15 Feb 2013, Cardiff University

Oral Poetry Today

Friday, 15 February @ 4pm

A practitioners’ workshop gathering slam artists, poets, and analysts from the academic world and the cultural economy.

What is the role and importance of oral poetry today? Are oral poetry and written poetry interconnected? Is slam a continuation of the tradition or a new genre?

Those questions and others will be addressed by our speakers:

  • Camille Faucherre, slam artist (Lille, France)
  • James Wheale, slam artist (UK)
  • Llyr Lewis (poet, Wales)
  • Glenn Carmichael (Poetry Slam, Bristol)
  • Bohdan Pasieki (Apples and Snakes)
  • Donatella Dubourg (La Générale d’Imaginaire, Lille, France)
  • Llion Roberts (poet, Wales, and Cardiff University)
  • Monika Hennemann (Cardiff University)
  • Cristina Marinetti (Cardiff University)
  • Alexis Nuselovici (Nouss) (Cardiff University)

The event will take place in Rooms 1.07/1.08 of the Optometry Building, Cardiff University.

For more information : Anne James,

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Jekyll 2.0: Embodying the Gothic Text

At the end of November 2012, I was lucky enough to be part of a team that won a commission through the innovative REACT Books&Print Sandbox call for early 2013. I’ll be working as lead academic partner with Bristol-based creative company, SlingShot, to create a pervasive media experience that draws on the narrative and themes of Stevenson’s gothic masterpiece.

Humanity 2.0 is an understanding of the human condition that no longer takes the ‘normal human body’ as given. On the one hand, we’re learning more about our continuity with the rest of nature—in terms of the ecology, genetic make-up, evolutionary history. On this basis, it’s easy to conclude that being ‘human’ is overrated. But on the other hand, we’re also learning more about how to enhance the capacities that have traditionally marked us off from the rest of nature.
—Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology, Warwick.

Double exposure of Richard Mansfield as Jekyll and Hyde (1895).The core of our project draws on the fundamental questions of Jekyll and Hyde: What makes us human? Do our minds control our bodies or are we shaped by our urges, compulsions and appetites? Will technology radically transform us into a new organism, ‘Humanity 2.0’? Such questions are nothing new: during the 19th century, the cultural implications of emerging theories of identity and the dominance of science were explored by numerous works of literature. Drawing on this tradition, our project transforms this reading into play, to create a pervasive gaming experience that links individuals’ bio-data with one such text, Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde (1886), in order to stimulate participants into considering the condition of their own humanity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call for Papers: Rethinking the Nineteenth Century, Sheffield 24 Aug 2013

The University of Sheffield
School of English

Rethinking the Nineteenth Century

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Keynote speaker: Professor Mark Llewellyn
(University of Strathclyde: Director of Research at the AHRC),
‘On Reciprocity, Trust and the Gift’

This one day conference will address a central question: what constitutes nineteenth century studies today? Recent years have witnessed significant shifts in the historical range and content of the long nineteenth century as the result of emerging critical approaches, historiographical debates, and the advancing claims of interdisciplinary analyses. The conference will provide a forum for taking stock of where we are now and trace possible future developments within the area. It will explore how specific engagements with a range of critical theories have developed an understanding of the nineteenth century as well as examining how the development of new cultural forms, including contemporary adaptations of the nineteenth century (on stage, film, and television), have conditioned public perceptions of the period. The conference will also address the challenges (and possible limitations) of discussing the nineteenth century as opposed to the Victorian period as well as exploring the distinctions and continuities between Romanticism and Victorianism. The conference will also reflect on how recent developments in the neo-Victorian novel have contributed to new debates about the relationship between the Victorian novel and contemporary culture, and how this enables us to reread and rewrite the Victorians.

We thus invite contributions which reflect on how texts, approaches, and concepts have enriched our understanding of the nineteenth century. We also welcome contributions which consider future developments for nineteenth century studies by plotting ways of ensuring a positive and vibrant future for our past.

Discussions are underway with a University Press with a view to publishing a collection based on extended versions of a selection of papers.

Papers might wish to address topics such as:

  • Rethinking the parameters of the nineteenth century – The Romantics and the Victorians.
  • New interdisciplinary approaches.
  • Recovering the lost: voices, texts, artefacts.
  • Theorising the nineteenth century.
  • Keywords – then and now?
  • The international context and transnational approaches
  • Representing the nineteenth century – TV, film, galleries and museums, the neo-Victorian.
  • Where next for nineteenth century studies?
  • Canon formation in a digital age.
  • The Digital Humanities and Social Media.

Please submit 250 word abstracts for 20 minute papers to the conference organizers (Dr Andrew Smith, Dr Anna Barton, Dr John Miller and Dr Amber Regis) at by March 18th.

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Visiting speaker, 12 Dec 2012: Rupert Gatti on Open-Access publishing

Rupert Gatti (Cambridge) will be presenting his paper, ‘Open Access Publishing in the Humanities and Social Sciences’, at 4pm on Wednesday, 12 December 2012. The talk will take place in the Cardiff Humanities Building, Room 2.48.

Please note: this paper was originally scheduled to run at 2.30pm but is now running at 4pm.

The nature and methods of academic book publishing is transforming radically in the wake of external pressures and the rising costs of scholarly monographs. Open-Access publishing is increasingly being perceived as a solution to the problem facing both institutions, whose library budgets are being cut year-on-year, and scholars, who are attempting to disseminate their work to the widest audience possible. One company that is responding to this situation is Open Book Publishers: an imprint run by academics for academics, which is changing the nature of the traditional academic book. Its books are published in hardback, paperback, PDF and e-book editions, but they also include a free online edition.

We are in the midst of what journalists are calling an ‘academic spring’. Researchers are realising that the high cost of academic books and journals means that only a select readership can access their work. Open Access (that is, making texts free to read online) helps spread educational materials to everyone, globally, not just to those who can afford it. It is increasingly becoming a requirement for publicly funded research to be made available in Open Access format and we are able to achieve this quickly and effectively. Open Book Publishers, a signatory of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, shows that an Open Access model of publishing can be sustainable. In his talk, Rupert Gatti will discuss the transforming landscape of academic publishing and its implications, as well as talking more specifically about Open Book Publishers and its vision.

You can read more of Rupert’s reflections on open-access publishing in his article for the Guardian Online and on the Open Book Publishers YouTube channel.

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