Organised around the focus of ‘Melville’s crossings’, the event covered the breadth and depth of Melville studies and paid close attention to Melville’s dialogues with philosophy and aesthetic theory, his own travels across the globe, and the idea of borders and thresholds within his works. Echoing these crossings, the event itself traversed the boundary between the academic and the public, including panels, seminars, and plenaries but also public engagement in the form of an afternoon at the British Library. Continue reading
The competition posed a welcome challenge disseminating my research for different audiences. It encouraged me to write for an audience that, whilst sharing a broad base of knowledge, are not experts in my specific field of nineteenth-century literature. Furthermore, it challenged me to think beyond the narrow focus of my PhD thesis. Instead of the granular work I often present in a 20-minute paper, the keynote made me think of my work in much broader terms and make connections outside the thesis. Continue reading
Over the summer, researchers were invited to respond to a keyword—or suggest their own—that they felt was pertinent to studying nineteenth century America in the twenty first century. From this, eight keyword panels were formed: ‘Capital’, ‘Crisis’, ‘Development’, ‘Network’, ‘Sensation’, ‘Territory’, ‘Time’, and ‘World’. Continue reading
Across the two days of the conference, the majority of speakers repeatedly returned to issues of races and discrimination. All four keynote speakers engaged with the racial aspects of their research. Thomas Doherty (Brandeis University) discussed the portrayal of Nazism in 1930s American cinema. Coupled with the erasure of explicit mentions of Judaism from the silver screen during the decade, films such Boys Town (1938) used allegory and avoidance to critique Nazi Germany within the political censorship of the Motion Picture Production Code. Continue reading
On the third evening of BAAS 2015 we were treated to an eloquent and passionate plenary from Professor Dana Nelson (Vanderbilt). Best known for her work on race in the nineteenth century (The Word in Black and White, National Manhood), Dana’s lecture ‘A Passion for Democracy: Proximity to Power and the Sovereign Immunity Test’, drew from her most recent work Bad for Democracy (2008). Continue reading
We started the afternoon discussing The Leavenworth Case. A classic yet little-read piece of detective fiction, the novel opens with news of the death of retired New York merchant Horatio Leavenworth, murdered in his Manhattan mansion. Continue reading
You’re stranded on a desert island, but luckily you pre-empted it. Which book do you take with you?
“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglass Adams. Because you only need that and a towel to survive.” Continue reading
Do readers need to relate to historical figures in order to understand Early American literature and history? Is it important to connect with the personalities encountered from the past?
Hannah Murray explores these questions in relation to the recent cluster of Early America-inspired television shows. Murray discusses Sleepy Hollow (2013), American Horror Story: Coven (2013), Turn: Washington’s Spies (2014) and Salem (2014). Continue reading
“Following Garvey’s article, the group spent quite a while discussing the importance of the physical versus digital archive in regards to Carrie Hyde and Joseph Rezak’s piece, ‘The Aesthetics of Archival Evidence’ (J19, Spring 2014). They raise the importance of understanding the ‘aesthetics of the archive’, the need to encounter the ‘heft’ of physical material. In the group we asked does distance matter? Do we need to be able to touch and hold manuscript and original books if it is digitally available? There seems to be a ‘resonating aura’ from material text, a sensual need to have contact with the physical archive for some scholars. This sensual turn in literary studies is the last spatial turn, towards ourselves.” Continue reading