Articles

2015.07.hammond

Dickens and the Pirates of Print

Pip at the Fingerpost: Nineteenth-Century Urban Conflict and the Regional Reception of Great Expectations

Mary Hammond, Tuesday 12 Apr 2016, CEIR Seminar Series 

In The Country and the City (1973) Raymond Williams examines how rural and urban life has been depicted in English literature since the sixteenth century. Arriving at Cambridge University as an undergraduate from his hometown in the Welsh Black Mountains, Williams discovered that the way rural life (a life he knew very well) was represented in literature was nothing like the reality. In fact, Williams argued that rural life, as portrayed in the literary canon, was  a construction that served the social order of the times. The country was Edenic, whilst the city was a thriving metropolis of capitalist production.

IMG_1277

Dr Mary Hammond

It is a binary that Dr Mary Hammond (University of Southampton) unpicked (or, at least reduced), in her recent paper at the Centre. Taking a highly nuanced approach, Mary used Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1861) as a lens to think about cultural change during the novel’s initial reception context. Arguing that Victorianists often only refer to London-based media to understand a text’s immediate historical significance, Mary suggested that we begin to interrogate the rural press, as well, to enhance our understanding of how the novel signified to different audiences. Great Expectations is the perfect text to explore these reactions as the pivotal moment in the novel is when Pip leaves the Kent countryside of his childhood for London in order to become a Gentleman. (more…)

canoe

‘Like continuing another man’s book’: Transitory Identity in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Early Writing

In the fourth of an ongoing series of posts, Harriet Gordon, a first-year doctoral candidate based in Cardiff’s Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, discusses the early steps of her project: a book historical study of Robert Louis Stevenson’s global literary networks. Harriet’s project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW-DTP).

In my most recent post on this blog I explored Robert Louis Stevenson’s complex relationship with his mentor and literary advisor Sidney Colvin, focusing on the impact he had on the young author’s early career. Although only five years Stevenson’s senior, Colvin was already well established within the literary environment of London when the two men met, and put his contacts and connections at Stevenson’s disposal. Yet it was not simply literary contacts that Colvin supplied: he also offered his encouragement, enthusiasm, and, at times, stern expectations at this crucial moment of the author’s life. Stevenson acknowledges the impact of these less quantifiable acts of assistance, even claiming that Colvin, along with Frances Sitwell, has the ability to alter his own personality. Shortly after his stay at Cockfield Rectory and his first meeting with Colvin, Stevenson writes to Sitwell from Edinburgh that

the stimulus of your approval and Colvin’s has died a good deal off, and I find myself face to face with the weak, inefficacious personality that I knew before (Letters 1, 307)

(more…)

Late nineteenth-century watercolour of Menton, France

‘A person in whom you must believe, like a person of the Trinity’: Sidney Colvin and the making of an author

In the third of an ongoing series of posts, Harriet Gordon, a first-year doctoral candidate based in Cardiff’s Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, discusses the early steps of her project: a book historical study of Robert Louis Stevenson’s global literary networks. Harriet’s project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW-DTP).

In the summer of 1873 Robert Louis Stevenson paid what he later described as a ‘very fortunate visit’ to Cockfield Rectory in Suffolk, where first met Slade Professor of Fine Art Sidney Colvin. Just how fortunate a visit this was we will never know for sure; it is feasible that Stevenson could have gone on to attain the same level of literary success without Colvin’s early assistance. Yet it is also entirely possible that without the jump-start Colvin’s connections and advice provided, Stevenson would have never caught the attention of the literary elite, would never have been propelled into the public eye, and would not have become the subject of a PhD thesis in 2015.

(more…)

Pickford

Media, Modernity and the Middlebrow

‘Secrets of the Film World’: Archives, Cinema Writing and Interwar Intermedia

Lisa Stead, Tuesday 1 Mar 2016, CEIR Seminar Series

The Centre was delighted to host Dr Lisa Stead earlier this month, whose paper addressed how women’s fictional writing, primarily from the 1930s, and other media forms, such as film and fan magazines, collectively produce a fascinating account of women’s experience of the cinema and of cinema-going in the interwar period.

Stead - 1

Dr Carrie Smith introduces Lisa’s paper

(more…)

article-0-0BB46F2600000578-706_634x425

Exile as Identity: Robert Louis Stevenson and ‘Life Geography’

In the second of an ongoing series of posts, Harriet Gordon, a first-year doctoral candidate based in Cardiff’s Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, discusses the early steps of her project: a book historical study of Robert Louis Stevenson’s global literary networks. Harriet’s project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW-DTP).

During the past month and a half, I have been busy trawling through the first two volumes of Robert Louis Stevenson’s collected letters. This comprehensive edition, painstakingly drawn together by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, will prove invaluable to my project, and, it is becoming increasingly clear, will be more important to my primary research than any of Stevenson’s published literary works. The two volumes in question span 25 years, from Stevenson’s earliest recovered letters, dictated to his mother at the age of three, which, admittedly, I glanced over only rather fleetingly, up the point he embarks on a steamship to America, in pursuit of his wife-to-be Fanny Osbourne. These letters track the course of Stevenson’s early life and burgeoning career as an author, moving from an enthusiastic but erratic young writer balancing an engineering degree and his father’s disapproval with a burning desire to entire the literary profession, to the author of three well-reviewed (if not financially successful) books, well established within the literary milieu of London. (more…)