Visiting Speaker, 16 Feb 2016: Dale Townshend on Walpole’s Enchanted Castles

Dale Townshend (University of Stirling) will be presenting his paper, ‘Horace Walpole’s Enchanted Castles’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 16 February 2016. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 4.43, and will be followed by a wine reception.

Abstract
2015.04.townshendEver since Horace Walpole in the second edition of The Castle of Otranto (1765) disclosed his authorship of his ‘Gothic Story’, it has been assumed that the ‘real’ and ‘particular’ castle to which he, in his guise as the ‘translator’ William Marshal, referred in the Preface to the first edition of the novel was Strawberry Hill, the ‘little Gothic castle’ in Twickenham that he had set about ‘Gothicizing’ since the late 1740s.  As I seek to demonstrate in this paper, however, this is really only half of the story, for while the castle at Otranto certainly, as Walpole would later phrase it, ‘puts one in mind’ of Strawberry Hill, it also looks to the architectural formations of ‘ancient’ or ‘Gothic’ romance for its structure, its effects, and even its eventual disappearance. More specifically, I argue, Manfred’s castle at Otranto is, in a number of respects, a reworking of the trope of the enchanted castle that featured so prominently in the epic romances of Torquato Tasso, Ludovico Ariosto, Edmund Spenser, and others. And if The Castle of Otranto is, indeed, closely linked to Strawberry Hill, I argue that this is not simply because Walpole ‘writes’ his home into his novel, but because both fiction and house looked to the architectural structures of medieval romance as their ultimate point of inspiration. Having explored the trope of the enchanted castle as it figures in The Castle of Otranto and Walpole’s correspondence around Strawberry Hill, I conclude by tracing its uptake in the later Gothic dramas and fictions of Miles Peter Andrews, Clara Reeve, Anna Laetitia Aikin and Ann Radcliffe. (more…)

THEORIZING THE DIGITAL: WORKSHOP NO.2

Digital Stages

In As You like It Shakespeare famously informed his audience at The Globe that ‘All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women merely players’. Meanwhile, four hundred years later in her book My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts, N. Katherine Hayles points out that ‘computers are no longer merely tools (if they ever were) but are complex systems that increasingly produce the conditions, ideologies, assumptions and practices that help to constitute what we call reality’. Ifnormal Shakespeare’s audience could understand themselves as theatrical subjects (as surely they must have done for those famous lines to resonate) it is because the Renaissance stage itself provided, like the digital today, those very ‘conditions, ideologies, assumptions and practices’ that Hayles argues help to constitute reality. In short, Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights did not just reflect the anxieties and desires of Elizabethan England, but they very actively helped to construct and shape them. In another four hundred years, what will humanists study to make sense of our present period? The digital stage of the world wide web of course, because, like Shakespeare’s stage, the web is the example par excellance of what Stephen Greenblatt (in reference to Renaissance theatre) calls the ‘cultural circulation of social energy’. (more…)

Public Lecture, 2 Feb 2016: Sally Shuttleworth on Victorian phobias

Fears and Phobias in the Victorian Age

Professor Sally Shuttleworth (St Anne’s College, Oxford)

Tuesday, 2 February 5.30–6.30pm, John Percival Building, Lecture Theatre 2.03

*** Wine Reception from 5pm *** 

A Collaborative Interdisciplinary Study of Science, Medicine and the Imagination Research Group Seminar with support from the Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research and Wellcome Trust Cardiff ISSF Science Humanities Initiative.

Shuttleworth - phobiaIn this seminar the internationally renowned literature and science scholar Sally Shuttleworth will explore some of the medical, literary and cultural responses in the Victorian age to the perceived problems of stress and overwork, anticipating many of the preoccupations of our own era.

The late nineteenth century was an era preoccupied with fear, and the medical diagnosis of phobias.  The American psychologist, G. Stanley Hall, for example, identified no less than 138 different types of pathological fear.  In this talk, Sally will explore the intersection of cultural, literary and medical discourses of fear in the period, looking particularly at the impact of literary texts on emerging psychiatric theories of phobia.

Following her main talk, Sally will speak about the genesis of the ‘Diseases of Modern Life‘ project and the European Research Council grant that supports it. This is a chance to hear a leading scholar provide an insight into grant capture on the European stage. (more…)

Cardiff University Digital Humanities Network launches

Digital Symptoms

Meeting No.1 of the Cardiff University Digital Humanities (or Digital Cultures) Network

’Twas the week before Christmas and the bells of Cardiff University were ringing out with glee as on 16 December 2015 Cardiff University’s Digital Humanities Network held its inaugural meeting. And what a productive and rewarding meeting it proved to be! Led by Anthony Mandal, from the Cardiff’s Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, the participants (more of which shortly) engaged in lively discussion and debate about how to go about achieving the Network’s plans to make Digital Humanities an integral (and visible) part of the work we do at Cardiff University.

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The aim of the Network is to build significant capacity in Digital Humanities practice at Cardiff University. In addition to drawing established practitioners based in the University (principally, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences), the Network will also support scholars interested in embedding Digital Humanities in their own research activities, and to foster exciting and innovative collaborative projects. (more…)

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Gender and genre in The Lady’s Magazine

‘The world is a large volume’: The Lady’s Magazine and Romantic Print Culture

Jennie Batchelor, Tuesday 1 Dec 2015, CEIR Seminar Series

When I met Jennie Batchelor (University of Kent) in the CEIR office about an hour before she was due to speak, it was with an air of excitement that she, jokingly, asked if the paper could wait: she was having far too much fun in Cardiff’s Special Collections and Archives, examining copies of The Lady’s Magazine. Her research into this publication is part of a two-year Leverhulme-funded project entitled The Lady’s Magazine (1770–1818): Understanding the Emergence of a Genre’, which aims to provide a bibliographical, statistical and literary–critical analysis of one the first recognisably modern magazines for women. The project aims to produce a host of publications about the contents of and contributors to the magazine, as well as a fully annotated index available online. Thankfully, Batchelor did go ahead with the talk in Cardiff, offering fascinating insights into The Lady’s Magazine and its position in romantic print culture. (more…)