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…)
Material Traces and Tactility in Neo-Victorian Literature and Culture
Rosario Arias, 6 February 2017, CEIR Seminar Series
Leaving the warm shores of Malaga, Spain, and braving the wind and rain of Cardiff in February, Rosario Arias presented the first paper of 2017 for the Centre of Editorial and Intertextual Research. Drawing on her research for an upcoming book project, Arias focused her discussion on neo-Victorian literature and culture in relation to tactility and material traces.
Beginning by acknowledging the pervasiveness of haunting in neo-Victorian fiction and culture, Arias goes on to suggest that, in recent years, this emphasis on the presence of the spectral past has shifted to include a conceptualisation of the actual textual and material remains of the past. As she explains, the Victorians are at once ghostly and tangible in contemporary culture, both their philosophical and physical, or material, legacies retaining a strong affective presence in modern Britain. It is the material legacies of the Victorians that Arias focuses on in this paper, considering the overflow of the past into the present through materiality in contemporary literature. Employing critical approaches such as thing theory, affective materiality and phenomenology, her research is concerned with literary texts that emphasise the sensual interplay between contemporary Britain and Victorian culture. (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…)