CFP: Remaking the New: Modernism and Textual Scholarship
Queen Mary University of London, 13-14 July 2017
Dirk van Hulle (University of Antwerp) Samuel Beckett Editions
Jane Goldman and Bryony Randall (University of Glasgow), Susan Sellers (University of St Andrews), Virginia Woolf Editions
Deborah Longworth (University of Birmingham) Dorothy Richardson Editions
The last ten years have seen a textual turn in modernist literary studies. New editions of modernist authors are now in progress, transforming the materials with which critics have worked. Current projects include editions of T. S. Eliot, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Samuel Beckett, Katherine Mansfield, Ford Madox Ford, Dorothy Richardson, Evelyn Waugh, and Wyndham Lewis, Supported by the AHRC Dorothy Richardson Scholarly Editions Project and building on the AHRC New Modernist Editing network, this conference aims to bring together editors and critics working on modernist texts to discuss the implications for modernist studies of the textual turn. The organisers wish to give particular weight to the contribution of women writers and less canonical writers to modernist literature. The institutionalisation of modernism within the academy after 1945 created an overwhelmingly male canon and editions of women writers have followed slowly after those of figures such as Eliot, Joyce and Beckett. The Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield editions are well under way and the Dorothy Richardsons editions are in process. However, the works of many key figures, such as Jean Rhys and Djuna Barnes, still await attention. The processes by which some authors get chosen and others are left out is complex and deserves scrutiny. New editions contribute to a gradual reconfiguration of the early twentieth-century literary field, transforming our understanding of literary and intellectual history. The result of remaking modernist texts is a new understanding of the past, which will inform how we read early twentieth-century literature in the future. But what are the key issues in the new modernist editing and how should editors pool and exchange knowledge?
“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places”. Thus spake Winnie the Pooh. The sentiment may resonate for students encountering sixteenth-century English manuscripts, in which not just spelling but the entire system of lettering seems designed to confound, in an endless tussle with pre-standardised orthography, erratic (or non-existent) punctuation, and inscrutable letter-forms.
A particularly challenging brand of sixteenth-century handwriting is “secretary hand”, the dominant script for most of the century. It was the default hand used by writers of most ranks for most purposes and genres: “the Secretaries common hand” is so called because it is “the onely usuall hand of England, for dispatching of all manner of businesses for the most part, whatsoever”, records Martin Billingsley in his 1618 writing manual, The Pens Excellencie.
‘It’s a kind of literary archaeology: on the basis of some information and a little bit of guesswork you journey to a site to see what remains were left behind and to reconstruct the world that these remains imply’. Toni Morrison is not the only writer to have imagined her work as a kind of archaeological digging, as an imaginative excavation of the past and a reconstruction of past lives from remains. From Wordsworth’s call to ‘grieve not, rather find / strength in what remains’ to Heaney’s bog poetry, writers have interrogated the significance of the earth, the buried, remains and fragments, and drawn upon techniques and tools associated with archaeology as a means of thinking about history, memory and the body. Conversely, archaeologists have begun to examine the potential influence of literature on their approaches to material traces and human remains. In the introduction to their 2015 book Subject and Narrative in Archaeology, Ruth M. Van Dyke and Reinhard Bernbeck note that there is an ‘increasing clamour for and interest in alternative forms of archaeological narratives, involving writing fiction, making films, constructing hypertexts, and creating media that transcend the traditional limitations of expository prose’ and that ‘Visual art, fiction, creative nonfiction, film, and drama have much to offer archaeological interpretation and analysis’. Literary critical approaches are also being recognised as useful ways of thinking about archaeological processes: for archaeologist John Hines, there is an ‘affinity between the scholarly disciplines’, archaeology involving ‘the same exercises of interpretation, analysis and evaluation as literary criticism.’
This conference brings together archaeologists, literary scholars and creative writers to explore similarities and points of convergence between literature, literary studies and archaeology across historical periods. We invite papers which adopt a range of disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches to the relationship between archaeology and literature and/or the potential for methodological exchange between the disciplines. We are particularly interested in exploring synergies between archaeological science and literature, and how the human body as a site of archaeological knowledge might shape and be shaped by literary and critical approaches to the body.
Topics might include, but are not limited to:
Literary and cultural representations of archaeology
Fragments, remains and reconstruction in archaeology and literary studies
Theoretical uses of archaeology in the work of Walter Benjamin, Freud, Foucault
Human remains, bodies, bones and skeletons in literature
The influence of archaeological writing on literary studies
Representations of archaeology in the media
Metaphor, analogy and storytelling in archaeology
The relationship between memory, history and narrative
Race and gender in archaeology
This conference is supported by the AHRC and is being held as part of the AHRC-funded project ‘Literary Archaeology’: Exploring the Lived Environment of the Slavehttp://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/research/literary-archaeology/
Attendance at the conference is free and there is a limited fund for reimbursement of UK travel expenses. We are also pleased to offer a postgraduate bursary which will cover all expenses of the successful applicant.
There will be an opportunity to publish conference papers in a special edition of a journal following the conference.
Submit your abstract
Please send 250 word abstracts to Josie.Gill@bristol.ac.uk by 16th September 2016. Delegates will be notified of the outcome in mid-October.
Saints and Sinners: Literary Footprints of Mary and Margaret, Queens of Scots 6th & 7th of October 2016
IASH, University of Edinburgh
With kind support from University of Birmingham CeSMA
Call for Papers
This conference will focus on the two most famous Queens of Scots, St Margaret (d.1093) and Mary (d. 1587), exploring how female threat is represented and – potentially – neutralised in literature and visual culture across the medieval period. To date, little serious academic study of Margaret has been undertaken, and further study into Mary beyond her infamy and demise has been limited. This conference seeks to both promote and explore the two most famous queens of Scots, both in terms of their literary and historical representation and in terms of their impact on the representation of Scottish queenship throughout the medieval period. We wish to encourage study into the way prominent women, especially queens, attracted discussion on medieval gender roles. Margaret and Mary function as opposite sides of the Madonna/Whore, Saint/Sinner stereotypes that dominate female representation in the medieval period and through to the modern age, and this conference would also encourage all submissions that encompass female representation more widely, taking these two opposites as a basis.
Course Tutor for the MA in the History of the Book
Since September 2014, the IES and the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery have been working together in an ‘academic partnership.’ This partnership is funded by the Museum, and it has enabled the IES to send researchers to work on the Hart Collection, a little-known collection of some 800 items consisting of manuscripts, incunables and early printed books continuing up to examples from William Morris’s Kelmscott Press.
The collection is beautifully displayed in a purpose-built gallery, funded by the original bequest, but little academic work has been done on the collection. It has never been properly catalogued and the collecting history of the donor, Robert Edward Hart, (1878-1946) has had little attention.
The Middle Ages themselves seem to be the “Other” – people, events or ideas that are in a past that we may never really grasp. There are concepts of the Middle Ages that create an image of binaries: sets of male/female, Christian/Muslim, Norman/Anglo-Saxon or simply Free/Unfree have had an impact on our point-of-view, research and popular culture. Developments in postcolonial studies, gender and queer studies, social studies or disability studies as well as individual concepts, ideas and approaches have changed and challenged the way the Middle Ages are approached and researched.
As an informal network of PhD Students, early career and independent scholars from universities in the UK and Germany, we are currently organising some sessions for the IMC 2017 that explore these new approaches in light of the IMC 2017 special thematic strand “Other” and are looking for papers that address some of the below questions:
The reputation of David Foster Wallace, the startlingly original author of Infinite Jest (1996), has undergone a change since his death in 2008. As of 2016, there has been an increased academic interest in his work, with several doctoral theses, monographs and collections of scholarly essays surfacing. But outside the academy, there has been a developing public interest, with the publication of a biography by DT Max, and the high-profile release of The End of the Tour, a Hollywood film depicting a three-day period of Wallace’s life after the publication of Infinite Jest.
Wallace has variously been described as a ‘genius’, and a ‘secular saint’. There is a reverence to a perceived shamanism in his work, primarily because of his posthumously released book This is Water (2009), in which he addresses the urgency of recognising that the ‘really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them’. There is a truth to what Wallace writes in This is Water, but it is a truth that was written as a commencement speech, and adheres to the structure and formula of that occasion. The fact that it has been published in book form has mutated it into something else, something that has an unintended weight in the consciousness of Wallace’s readers.
The End of the Tour shares some of the same problems. Set in the final days of Wallace’s book tour for Infinite Jest, the film sees the journalist David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) interviewing Wallace (Jason Segel) as they travel around the American mid-west. It is adapted from Lipsky’s book Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself (2010), a long interview that was originally for Rolling Stone (but was unpublished). The film is essentially about reception, with Wallace discussing how uncomfortable his sudden celebrity has made him because it takes the focus away from his work. Ironically, the film seems to ignore its subject’s anxiety about this, and presents a portrait of the man, not the work (in fact, there is none of Wallace’s work in the film, despite it being set at readings. Could this be down to a rights issue?).
The problem with this approach is that the film’s source material is one isolated interview, where Wallace is speaking about himself and his work in a very specific moment in time, and in an improvisational way (there’s an interesting line in the film where Wallace says he is only smart with time to think and access to his library). What Wallace said sometime in 1996, tired from a relentless book tour, has now been canonised as the official word (about himself, about America, about addiction). It has created a totemic Wallace, and this has the danger of altering the reception of Wallace and his work further.
The film ends with a tearful Lipsky declaring that the interview was ‘the best conversation I ever had’, which has the effect of promoting the relationship to something more than the three-day professional meeting it was. Perhaps this emotional presentation of Wallace is the only way to make a literary film accessible, but it does raise the question of who this film is for. Anyone who has a relationship with Wallace’s work is in danger of finding it unsatisfying and slight. Anyone who hasn’t read any of Wallace’s work may see a film about the conversational minutiae of a writer’s life and work as inherently boring.
Reading Wallace’s work is not an exercise in learning about the man, even in his experiential journalism, and it seems futile to try to build up a picture of who he was as a person. His work is powerful and important because it manages to represent human experience in amongst the data storm of modern life. He writes about loneliness and sadness, not as if these things are a monolithic force, but part of a wild array of human emotions (which makes his work both funny and moving all at once). Most importantly, he is an author concerned with making literary art, of telling adult stories in an infantilised world. His work is seductive and intelligent, but resolutely human and moral, which is perhaps why Wallace’s reputation has been easily packaged into that of the shamanic genius.
Dr Graham Foster (Associate Research Fellow, IES, School of Advanced Study)
Alexandra Wingate (College of William and Mary, Virginia)
The London Rare Books School (LRBS) is the closest thing an aspiring rare books librarian could have to Hogwarts. It’s held in an amazing building, run and taught by remarkable people, and covers all those subjects that you can only dream about at your regular school or university—though the LRBS offers courses such as the Medieval Book and the Early Modern Book Trade as opposed to Potions and Divination. Nevertheless, I had that same mix of excitement and intimidation leading up to the first day of the LRBS that Harry had approaching the Sorting Hat. I’m an undergraduate student studying linguistics and Hispanic studies at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, USA, and the idea of taking graduate-level classes was a bit nerve-wracking. However, my fears were assuaged because no matter their background, anyone who is involved in any capacity with the LRBS is a wonderful person, who has the same goal in regard to rare books as you do—to learn about them.
For the first week of LRBS, I took part in the Introduction to Bibliography course, which was taught by Andrew Zurcher, Warwick Gould, Colin Smythe, and Laurence Worms. Each of them brought his own perspective to the topic of bibliography as scholars, publishers, and booksellers. For this course, Andrew asked us to complete a small project, during which we created a full bibliographical description of an early printed book of our choice. Being a Hispanic studies student, I looked through Senate House’s catalog for something associated with Spain or the New World. I found a 1616 copy of the second part of the Comentarios Reales by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, which is his history of Peru. I used the Comentarios Reales previously in a paper at William and Mary, so I was very excited to look at this text. By studying the contents and structure of the book, I came up with my own description, which included a quasi-facsimile transcription of the title page, the collation and signing formulas, and physical features. I was particularly excited to see the preliminaries, the pages that come before the actual content. During research which I conducted in spring 2016, I learned about the different types of preliminaries in Spanish books and their functions. I found the book’s tasa, which states the legal price of the book. This is interesting because the price was determined by the number of bifolia that made up the book. There were 157 bifolia, and so at a price of 4 maravedis per bifolium (pliego in Spanish) the book cost 628 maravedis when it was originally printed.