I'm Professor of Print and Digital Cultures and Director of the Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research at Cardiff University. My research interests include Jane Austen, 19th-century fiction, the gothic, print culture and history of the book, and digital humanities. I have published books and essays on Austen, popular fiction and print culture, and have developed a number of literary databases. I'm currently working on various projects, including an encyclopaedia of gothic publishing during the Romantic period. I'm also one of the General Editors of the New Edinburgh Edition of the Works of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Lise Jaillant (Loughborough University) will be presenting her paper, ‘“Modernist” Publishers, Publishers of “Modernism”’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 4 April 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 Commercial publishers are nearly invisible in New Modernist Studies. There is no history of Random House, no history of Harcourt Brace and no history of Faber & Faber. One reason for this invisibility is that commercial firms published a wide range of texts—what we now see as ‘Modernism’ was issued alongside ‘popular’ texts. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Phoenix Library published Wyndham Lewis’s first novel Tarr but also popular novels and even a cookery book. Since difficult ‘Modernist’ texts continue to dominate our understanding of early twentieth-century literature, we tend to neglect these publishing enterprises or to study only the tiny portion of their activities that relates to ‘Modernism’.
This talk will address two points: 1) why so few modernist scholars have studied commercial publishers (unlike Victorianists, who have long been interested in book publishers and their impact on the literary text); 2) what we can do to expand the sub-field of Modernist Print Culture, building on existing work in periodical studies and strengthening our relationship with scholars of book history. In this context, ‘Modernist’ would be synonymous with ‘Early Twentieth Century’ to include all kinds of texts published at that time. The conclusion will present Lise’s digital map of publishers in New York in the 1920s, part of a chapter forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. (more…)
Matt Hayler (University of Birmingham) will be presenting his paper, ‘Digital and Ambient Literature: How Resistance Was Futile and the Future of Books Might Not Be Awful’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 21 March 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 What difference does digitisation make? This talk will compare the ways in which digital and printed book bodies might mean, taking their embodiment seriously and thinking through the work that it might do in entanglement with the bodies of their readers. As we develop new grammars of use for digital texts we see that they are anything but ghostly or ephemeral, instead capable of meaning in their form just as much as works in print – our resistance comes from somewhere else. These ideas will be further thought through in a discussion of the AHRC Ambient Literature project which explores the interactions of readers, digital texts, and lived places. What means, how, and in what configurations is a rich question, and my answer, at least in part, is a posthuman understanding of where sites of knowledge, and what is to be known, might be located. (more…)
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 This 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. (more…)
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 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. (more…)