CEIR Speaker, 21 Feb 2017: Carrie Smith on Ted Hughes’s Birthday Letters

Carrie Smith (Cardiff University) will be presenting her paper, ‘Ted Hughes’s Birthday Letters: An Archive of Writing’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 21 February 2017. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48, and will be followed by a wine reception.

Abstract
2016-05-smithThis paper will consider the manuscript drafts of British poet Ted Hughes’s final full-length collection Birthday Letters (1998). It will suggest that the proliferation of reported documents, photographs, journal entries and letters in the published collection is a result of Hughes’s re-encounter with these items when sorting through his late wife Sylvia Plath’s, and later his own, papers for sale. As a result Birthday Letters itself becomes a poetic archive curated by Hughes. From the opening poem, we are presented with accounts of documents that root the collection in the texture of real life. The collection works to preserve what will be lost when the papers are archived after his death; the memory-context of these photographs, drafts and objects. Hughes also provides incorrect biographical details throughout the collection. The substitution of an easily-checkable detail suggests that Hughes is creating a poetic archive of items that cannot be trusted; implying that poetry must always be questioned when mined for biography. The process of shaping his archive and literary legacy informs the collection’s focus on the fallibility of memory and the potential for documents and objects to deceive. The archive of papers tries to preserve the past, even as the arranging and destroying of the papers alters it; similarly in Birthday Letters, Hughes represents the past in poetry by using concrete items. He performs a synthesising of these items, akin to a researcher, by finding patterns in the papers. As this paper will show, the drafts of Birthday Letters form an archive of writing, placing the indeterminacy of the many variants of the manuscript page alongside the doubt over how to record a shared life in poetry.
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The Road to Ambient Literature

Tom Abba, 29 November 2016, CEIR Seminar Series

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>In an essay from 1993, Brian Eno, the musician and inventor of the term ‘ambient music’, wrote, ‘Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences’. It is a sentiment that Tom Abba (University West of England), who presented his work as part of the Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research seminar series, would surely agree with.
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Reminder: Rosario Arias’s paper on Neo-Victorian materiality is tomorrow

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Visiting Speaker, 6 Feb 2017: Rosario Arias on Neo-Victorian Material Culture

Rosario Arias (Universidad de Málaga) will be presenting her paper, ‘Material Traces and Tactility in Neo-Victorian Literature and Culture’, at 5.30pm on Monday, 6 February 2017. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.47, and will be followed by a wine reception.

Abstract
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In the latest issue of the online journal Neo-Victorian Studies (9.1: 2016), devoted to neo-Victorianism and the stage, co-editors Beth Palmer and Benjamin Poore acknowledge the relevance that ‘the idea of haunting and hauntedness’ bears upon the field of neo-Victorian studies (1). Indeed, the pervasiveness of the Victorians in contemporary culture has been addressed through the master trope of haunting and spectrality, as many critics have noted. However, Cora Kaplan in Victoriana (2002) has aptly suggested that ‘[t]he Victorian as at once ghostly and tangible … [has] had a strong affective presence in modern Britain’. Therefore, time seems ripe for the consideration of the tangibility of Victorian traces and the traces of the Victorians in contemporary culture. In this talk, I will pay attention to the material side of the trace of the Victorian past, objects and things, as well as the overflow of the past into the present through sensorial materiality, in contemporary literature and culture. In so doing, I will focus on a selection of texts that illustrate the sensuous interplay between the Victorian past and today’s culture by employing critical approaches such as Thing theory, affective materiality and phenomenology.
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Narrative Voice and Gothic Otherness

Voice and Dispossession: A Comparative Poetics

Emily Rohrbach, 8 Nov 2016, CEIR Seminar Series

In the second paper of this year’s CEIR series, held in collaboration with the Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Seminar (CRECS), Dr Emily Rohrbach drew on her current research on voice and dispossession in ‘Gothic’ literature from Britain, Europe and America to examine its influence on the Romantic period. Rohrbach, in her usual critical style which as Dr Jamie Castell stated ‘pays attention to the small details when addressing the big questions’, analysed aspects of the narrative voice that dramatise self-reflexively its own otherness. (more…)