Visiting Speaker, 25 Oct 2016: Verity Hunt on Locative Literature

Verity Hunt (University of Southampton) will be presenting her paper, ‘Stories by the City, Stories by the Sea: Locative Literature and Narrative Archaeology’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 25 October 2016. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.03, and will be followed by a wine reception.

2016-01-huntEvery place has a story, and every story has a place; landscapes are made up of stories over time, layer-upon-layer, like geological strata. StoryPlaces, an interdisciplinary research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, explores the stories of nineteenth-century places via the emerging digital medium of location-aware narrative. Focussing on location-aware stories of nineteenth-century Southampton Old Town and Docks written by University of Southampton creative writing students, this paper discusses locative literature’s potential to bring overlooked and long-forgotten nineteenth-century stories to the fore of our experience of the twenty-first-century city. Location-aware narrative stands as an innovative new creative medium for consuming our Victorian past; it enriches its readers’ narrative experience by creating interactive historical landscapes.

The location-aware stories discussed in this paper range from sensation thrillers and ghost stories, through to romances and family dramas; they present nineteenth-century tales of migration and travel, endeavour and adventure, personal loss and national tragedy. The stories revive and draw attention to long-nineteenth-century places in Southampton that have been lost to a century of warfare and town planning—places like Old Town’s Victorian slums (demolished in slum clearances in the 1890s and bombed in the Blitz) and the Victorian pleasure pier (lost to fire in the 1930s); neglected and forgotten places like the late Victorian Emigrants’ Home (converted to private flats in the mid-twentieth century); and overlooked public monuments like the Titanic memorial. This paper reflects on the research and writing strategies used by our student writers to recover and reimagine this lost Victorian world for a reader unavoidably immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of contemporary Southampton; the challenge of creating nineteenth-century stories for consumption in the midst of a twenty-first-century sea-city.

About the speaker
hunt_verity-jpg_sia_jpg_fit_to_width_inlineVerity Hunt joined English at the University of Southampton in 2012, and is currently Postdoctoral Research Fellow on StoryPlaces, an interdisciplinary research project (English and Electronics & Computer Science) that explores the poetics of location-based storytelling, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. She studied at Cardiff University (BA Hons) and the University of Reading (MA, PhD). Her research interests lie in the areas of locative literature and media archaeology, particularly the material and conceptual connections between Victorian audio/visual technologies and the book. She has published on nineteenth-century visual culture and the Great Exhibition and Crystal Palace, and is currently writing a book for Edinburgh University Press about late-nineteenth-century forecasts for the end of paper and rise of electrical text supports: The Victorian eBook: Literature and Electrical Technologies of Representation, 1875–1910.


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