manuscripts

CEIR Speaker, 21 Feb 2017: Carrie Smith on Ted Hughes’s Birthday Letters

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
2016-05-smithThis 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.
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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…)

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…)

Visiting speaker, 19 Nov 2013: Ronan Deazley on comics, copyright and academia

Ronan Deazley (University of Glasgow) will be presenting his paper, ‘Comics, Copyright and Academic Publishing’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 19 November 2013. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 0.31.

Abstract
2013.03.deazleyThis paper explores the culture of copyright clearance within the domain of scholarly communications through the prism of comics scholarship. It will be of interest to copyright scholars, as well as to academics working in the arts, humanities and social sciences who make use of copyright material in their research publications.

About the speaker
CCC_deazleyRonan Deazley is Professor of Copyright Law at the University of Glasgow and Founding Director of CREATe, the RCUK-funded Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy (www.create.ac.uk). He is the author of numerous publications on the issue of copyright and intellectual property, including On the Origin of the Right to Copy: Charting the Movement of Copyright Law in Eighteenth Century Britain, 1695–1775 (2004) and Re-Thinking Copyright: History, Theory, Language (2006, 2008). Between 2006 and 2008 he was the UK national editor for an AHRC-funded digital resource concerning the history of copyright in Italy, France, Germany, the UK and the US: Primary Sources on Copyright 1450-1900. More recently, he secured £5.1M of RCUK funding to establish CREATe: the RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy.

Download a flyer for the talk (PDF).

CEIR speaker, 9 Oct 2012: Neil Badmington on Roland Barthes

Neil Badmington (Cardiff) will be presenting his  paper, ‘Punctum Saliens: Barthes, Mourning, Film, Photography’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 9 October 2012. The talk will take place in the Cardiff Humanities Building, Room 2.48.


Abstract

The question I raise for myself: ‘Should I keep a journal?’ is immediately supplied, in my mind, with a nasty answer: ‘Who cares?’ or, more psychoanalytically: ‘It’s your problem.’
(Roland Barthes, ‘Deliberation’)

The talk examines how the posthumous publication in 2009 of Roland Barthes’s Mourning Diary—a journal kept by Barthes for nearly two years following the death of his mother in October 1977—casts new light on Camera Lucida, Barthes’ influential book on photography, which was written during the period covered by the diary. In particular, the paper will examine how the Mourning Diary reveals for the first time that Barthes’ theory of the photographic punctum has cinematic roots which are erased in Camera Lucida, and I go on to discuss possible reasons for this vanishing. Why should the difficult ‘preparation’ of what Barthes called ‘the Photo-Maman book’ involve a paring away of film? Why does cinema allow Barthes to begin to theorize the punctum, but then recede from view? How, in short, does the Mourning Diary illuminate Camera Lucida anew?

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