Character to Caricature

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Character to Caricature 1660 to 1850 is a one-day conference organised by Northumbria Postgraduate student Montana Davies-Shuck (Northumbria) and Jenny Buckley (York).

It takes place in the Institute of Humanities at Northumbria on the 3rd of September 2018.

The keynote speaker is Elaine McGirr (Bristol).

You can find full details of the programme at:

@Character2018 or http://www.character2018.wordpress.com/

It should be a great day!

 

Studying English at University

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I’m looking forward to visiting Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington this afternoon to talk about studying English at university.

One thing we’ll be looking at is Jorge Luis Borges’s story Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote

I’m looking forward to seeing what the students think about it.

I’m also planning to show them this undergraduate essay:

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That’s the video essay. There’s also a written essay to accompany it here

Colleagues at Northumbria love visiting schools and working with students and teachers.

Do get in touch if you’e like to visit us or for us to visit you.

Remember also that we have an exciting event coming up next Wednesday when Lynne Murphy will be talking about differences between British and American English in our Annual Linguistics Lecture

There are still places available for Lynne’s talk but do book if you’d like to come

Rethinking the Anglo-Scottish Borders

On 1 June 2018, the Borders and Borderlands Research Group held a symposium on the Anglo-Scottish Borderlands at Northumbria’s Institute of the Humanities. The symposium gathered together a wide range of scholars from across several disciplines to think about the past and the future of this fascinating, occasionally fractious, and culturally rich region.

Borderlines, in the age of President Trump’s plans for a ‘beautiful’ border wall and ongoing crises from Syria to Myanmar, are unusually vexed. The largely ‘soft’ border to the north of us linking Scotland and England does not possess this level of threat. Following the Brexit referendum, however, the social, economic and environmental future of the region looks increasingly uncertain. The symposium performed its own act of ‘border crossing’, asking artists and academics between the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to think about the rich cultural resources of the region. Central to the day was an exploration of how understandings of the past might shed light on the present and help us to imagine the future of this predominantly rural region with its common bonds, shared resources but often a mutual sense of disconnection and isolation.

Across the day, the borderlands began both to come into focus and to seem increasingly complicated. Borders history presents an area that interweaves cultural, political, and environmental strands into what Professor Ysanne Holt (drawing on the region’s rich textile heritage) described as a ‘weave, a meshwork’. How to read the landscape, with its bogs and mosses, its hills and ‘debatable lands’, its rivers that connect and divide, became a productive, if unsettled, question. For many of the contributors, the methods that we use to read the area must themselves be open and flexible. Art practice – creative writing, dance, map-making, glass-making, photography, film – offers uniquely valuable responses to that question.

Border

[Photo credit: Oliver Moss]

This is an area often forgotten and difficult to map. The referenda on greater Scottish Independence and EU membership seem to have raised more questions than settled answers for the region. That so much of the area is rural is a part of this, and many contributors reflected on the importance of listening attentively to the voices of the region, voices that possess their own winking humour and flexible pragmatism. But a rural region is not one stuck in the past: the area has always been mobile, always been a place of change that is open to the world. The difficulty we have in mapping it may be one of its greatest strengths as we look to address the wider issues of borders and borderings so prominent in today’s society.

Claire Pençak, a Borders-based artist, described the area as one in which ‘alternative arrangements’ proliferate. The multiplicity of responses the area offers to us suggest its vitality. Perhaps we can learn to be guided by Hermes (a.k.a. Mercury), the deity of borders, crossroads, translations, transactions, who ‘signifieth subtill men, ingenious, inconstant: rymers, poets, advocates, orators, phylosophers, arithmeticians, and busie fellowes’.

This is the latest of an ongoing series of events by the Borders and Borderlands Research Group. For more information contact Professor Ysanne Holt (ysanne.holt@northumbria.ac.uk) or Dr David Stewart (david.stewart@northumbria.ac.uk)

Inventing the Myth: Political Passions and the Ulster Protestant Imagination

 

We are delighted to hear that our colleague Connal Parr, who is a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in the Humanities here at Northumbria University, has been nominated for the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize

Connal’s book, Inventing the Myth: Political Passions and the Ulster Protestant Imagination, is an innovative and original exploration of Ulster Protestantism, focusing on the intersections of theatre, culture and politics and highlighting new perspectives which challenge some of the ideas which often circulate about twentieth-century Protestant culture. Here’s a description from the book’s website:

“Through its exploration of class division and drama from the early twentieth century to the present, the book restores the progressive and Labour credentials of the community’s recent past along with its literary repercussions, both of which appear in recent decades to have diminished. Drawing on over sixty interviews, unpublished scripts, as well as rarely-consulted archival material, it shows – contrary to a good deal of clichéd polemic and safe scholarly assessment – that Ulster Protestants have historically and continually demonstrated a vigorous creative pulse as well as a tendency towards Left wing and class politics. St. John Ervine, Thomas Carnduff, John Hewitt, Sam Thompson, Stewart Parker, Graham Reid, Ron Hutchinson, Marie Jones, Christina Reid, and Gary Mitchell profoundly challenge as well as reflect their communities. Illuminating a diverse and conflicted culture stretching beyond Orange Order parades, the weaving together of the lives and work of each of the writers highlights mutual themes and insights on their identity, as if part of some grander tapestry of alternative twentieth-century Protestant culture. Ulster Protestantism’s consistent delivery of such dissenting voices counters its monolithic and reactionary reputation.”

The Whitfield Prize is awarded by the Royal Historical Society for an author’s first book in the field of British or Irish history. You can read more details here

Congratulations, Connal!