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.
Mark Towsey (University of Liverpool) will be presenting his paper, ‘Reading Hume’s History of England in Britain and America: Readers, Texts and Contexts’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 9 April 2019. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.01, and will be followed by a wine reception. This event is co-hosted with the Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Seminar.
Abstract David Hume’s History of England (1754–62) was one of the bestselling books of the eighteenth century, running through a dazzling range of editions and circulating very widely at lending libraries for which records survive. Yet Hume’s History was also a deeply challenging text that scorned cherished ideas of religious history and sought to undermine core facets of British constitutional identity. Drawing on a variety of sources including marginalia, letters, diaries and commonplace books, this paper explores why Hume’s History was so widely read, showing how it was used by readers across the English-speaking world to make sense of a period of rapid change marked by social upheaval at home and revolution abroad. In doing so, it poses important questions about the histories of ideas, education and political culture, while shedding new light on how readers interpreted books in the Georgian age.
Nicola Wilson (University of Reading) will be presenting her paper, ‘Authors Take Sides: Britain’s First Book-of-the-Month Club in the Shadow of War’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 26 March 2019. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.01, and will be followed by a wine reception.
Abstract The Book Society was set up in 1928 to boost book-buying in a time of mass library-borrowing. By 1930 it had over 10,000 members receiving a new, full-price book each month. The club’s Choices and Recommendations made a huge impact on a book’s sales and circulation and publishers of all types were keen to receive what Harold Raymond called ‘the Book Society bun’. The book club was fronted by a line-up of popular writers, literary celebrities and the odd academic: Hugh Walpole, J. B. Priestley, Clemence Dane, Sylvia Lynd, Edmund Blunden. Priestley called themselves ‘broadbrows’. In the turbulence of the late 1930s, Popular Front spokesman Cecil Day-Lewis was brought on to help the club navigate the growing threat of fascism, at home and abroad. This paper, based on new work from my book on The Book Society, looks at debates among the selection committee in the run-up to WW2 and how the Book Society News sought to navigate a world at sea. Focussed on literary and political debates among the judges in the context of appeasement, and particularly the tension between Day-Lewis and WW1 poet Edmund Blunden, it considers how Britain’s first book-of-the-month club sought to keep readers informed during the chaos of the late 1930s and how individual personalities clashed in its monthly periodical to produce a dynamic, contested read.(more…)
Richard Graham (University of Birmingham) will be presenting his paper, ‘Understanding Google: 5000 Years of Human Thought in 0.3 Seconds’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 12 March 2019. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.01, and will be followed by a wine reception.
Abstract How do search engines change the way we think or remember? Should global technologies present knowledge as universal, or are some truths relative? Does Google’s contribution to the democratisation of knowledge outweigh their facilitation of fake news, conspiracy theories and hate speech?
Search engines have become an integral part of the Web for many around the world who rely upon them on a daily basis. Google’s search engine governs a wide range of activities that regulate how news, politics and cultural beliefs circulate online. Therefore, search engines are at the centre of a huge number of debates that reach far beyond the study of an isolated technology.
This talk will address a range of diverse issues concerning the nature of search, including how our identities are interpreted algorithmically and how search engines provide individuals with different results based on the language they speak, where in the world they search from, and the phrasing of queries that might disclose existing attitudes. The paper will also address the social impact of harnessing big data and machine learning to make linguistic judgements, which often lead to the propagation of sexist, racist or extremist views. In an age when multinational technology companies have the power to distribute fake news, trace human behaviour in ever-closer detail, and shape the kind of knowledge people have access to around the globe, critical and human-centric enquiry is urgently required. The talk will highlight why humanities perspectives are essential for the study of digital culture and will directly address how researchers without a computing background can study and critique dynamic computational systems.
Dorothy Butchard (University of Birmingham) will be presenting her paper, ‘Haunted Screens: Digital Texts and Unplanned Obsolescence’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 27 November 2018. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 0.31, and will be followed by a wine reception.
Abstract This paper examines how accelerating technological change can swiftly render ‘old’ formats obsolete, compressing perceptions of age onscreen: many born-digital texts from the 1990s and 2000s already look and feel archaic. Although apps and software are often designed to be seamlessly incorporated into daily life, the combined pressures of profit and innovation mean that familiar digital interfaces are at constant risk of becoming dated or non-functional. Arguing that software lifecycles have serious ramifications for our capacity to read and appreciate born-digital texts as they age, this talk will approach obsolescence in digital materiality by exploring three facets of encountering texts onscreen: aesthetics, interactivity and malfunction.
The 2018/19 programme of speakers at the Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research is now available to view on our Events: Speakers Programme page. Talks this session from a range of national and international scholars explore a variety of subjects, including digital culture and the technology of literature, the ghost stories that inspired Frankenstein, book fairs and book societies, and reading history in the 18th century. The talks will be followed by wine reception, and all are welcome!