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Magic, Meaning and Manuscripts

Six Notebooks in Search of an Editor: Samuel Beckett’s Murphy

Andrew Nash, 26 Apr 2016, CEIR Seminar Series

Claiming that he has no critical authority in the field of Samuel Beckett, Dr Andrew Nash (University of Reading) confessed that his paper would shed no new light on Beckett’s writings. The paper was, instead, a thought-provoking account of the changes taking place in manuscript research, the increasing emphasis on the materiality of the manuscript, and the technological conditions (writing instruments and papers) that influence literary production. Nash’s research also provided the centre with an invaluable insight into the status of the modern literary manuscript as an artefact of considerable commercial value, and, in the case of Beckett’s Murphy notebooks, the ways in which the commercial and the scholarly are indelibly intertwined.

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Professor Carl Phelpstead introduces Dr Andrew Nash

In July 2013, the University of Reading successfully purchased at auction six manuscript notebooks, detailing the composition of Beckett’s first novel Murphy (1938). Justifying their bid of £950,000, the University maintained that the acquisition of the manuscript would solidify its reputation as a central archival resource for Beckett’s work, and attract more scholars and researchers to Reading. (more…)

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Visiting Speaker, 26 Apr 2016: Andrew Nash on Samuel Beckett’s Murphy Notebooks

Andrew Nash (University of Reading) will be presenting his paper, ‘Six Notebooks in Search of an Editor: Samuel Beckett’s Murphy’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 26 April 2016. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 4.43, and will be followed by a wine reception.

Abstract
2015.08.nashIn 2013 the University of Reading was unexpectedly successful in acquiring at auction six manuscript notebooks which had for almost eighty years remained in private hands. The notebooks were those in which Samuel Beckett had written, over some ten months between August 1935 and June 1936, the first draft of what was finally to emerge in 1938 as his first published novel, Murphy. This talk will outline the unusual provenance history of this literary manuscript and discuss the status of the notebooks as commercialised, heritage and research objects. It will reflect on the experience of helping to transcribe and edit the notebooks, examining their distinctive material features which shed important new light on Beckett’s composition process and on the ‘archaeology’ of modern literary manuscripts more generally. (more…)

BARS 2015: Romantic Imprints – 1st Call for Papers

Proposals are invited for the 2015 British Association for Romantic Studies international conference which will be held at Cardiff University, Wales (UK) on 16–19 July 2015. The theme of the interdisciplinary conference is Romantic Imprints, broadly understood to include the various literary, cultural, historical and political manifestations of Romantic print culture across Europe, the Americas and the rest of the world. Our focus will fall on the ways in which the culture of the period was conscious of itself as functioning within and through, or as opposed to, the medium of print. The conference location in the Welsh capital provides a special opportunity to foreground the Welsh inflections of Romanticism within the remit of the conference’s wider theme. The two-hundredth anniversary of Waterloo also brings with it the chance of thinking about how Waterloo was represented within and beyond print.

The confirmed keynote speakers for Romantic Imprints will be John Barrell (Queen Mary, London), James Chandler (Chicago), Claire Connolly (Cork), Peter Garside (Edinburgh) and Devoney Looser (Arizona State). (more…)

Visiting speaker, 6 May 2014: Justin Tonra on Ossian Online

Justin Tonra (NUI Galway) will be presenting his paper, ‘Ossian Online: Building an Interdisciplinary Research Environment’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 6 May 2014. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48.

Abstract
2013.08.tonraThis presentation will introduce the early stages of Ossian Online, a new research initiative to archive and edit James Macpherson’s profoundly influential work of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European culture. The project will deploy digital technologies to pilot a new crowdsourcing model of scholarly collaboration. Ossian Online will build a multinational online interpretive community through the establishment of a virtual research environment.

The talk will introduce the works of the Ossian canon and describe the desired outcomes of the new project. The work is much discussed but rarely read, so the paper will outline the rationale for returning the focus of Ossianic discourse to the original texts and print culture in which it first appeared. Progress on digitising and encoding major editions from Macpherson’s lifetime (between 1760 and 1773) is ongoing, and plans for completing a new critical edition which will visualise the development of the work’s texts across this period will be discussed.

A central part of Ossian Online will involve building an online research environment to facilitate crowdsourced annotation and interpretation of Ossian, harnessing the interdisciplinary reach and appeal of the work. The project’s ultimate objectives are to use digital technologies to challenge national and disciplinary models of previous literary criticism which have impeded full appreciation of the cultural importance and significance of Ossian. (more…)

Marginalia and provenance in the Cardiff Rare Books

Last year the Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP), an initiative which provides summer placements for undergraduates in the university research environment, helped fund a research project on Marginalia and Provenance in the Restoration Drama texts of the Cardiff Rare Books Collection. This year, another CUROP award helped fund two more undergraduates to undertake research for Dr Melanie Bigold’s on-going project on Marginalia and Provenance in the Cardiff Rare Books. The focus last year was on the 900 volumes of the Restoration Drama Collection. This year, Victoria Shirley and Thomas Tyrrell began to tackle the larger collection. Supported by the staff in Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR), Victoria and Thomas were able to inspect over 1100 octavo texts with publication dates between 1660 and 1700. More information about visiting SCOLAR and the Cardiff Rare Books can be found here:

More information about CUROP can be found here: http://learning.cf.ac.uk/projects-funding/curop/.

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