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HRC Newsletter Issue 3 05/06

The Humanities Research Centre sponsors many workshops, symposiums and conferences. These range from half-day events to 3-day international residential conferences. Details about conferences can be obtained from the HRC or from the conference organisers. Information on HRC events is available on our website at:

Or if you would like to receive regular information about future events please


Intellectual Diasporas / Departures

Tuesday 13th September 2005

Organised by Dr Kate Astbury and Dr Jane Hiddlestone (French)

For further information contact the HRC or Department of French Studies

Kenilworth Revisited: New Perspectives on the Castle and the 1575 Festivities

Friday 16th September 2005

Organised by Dr Elizabeth Goldring (AHRC Research Fellow, The John Nichols Project)

For further information contact the HRC or Centre for the Study of the Renaissance

Henry Green, 1905 – 73

A Centenary Celebration

Friday 28th – Saturday 29th October 2005

Organised by Professor Jeremy Treglown (English and Comparative Literary Studies)

For further information contact the HRC

Message from the Director

The Humanities Research Centre exists to facilitate and promote research activity in the Humanities at Warwick. It does this through a range of activities (conferences, visiting fellows, public lectures, interdisciplinary seminars, support for output) and at a range of levels (staff, graduate students, outreach events), aiming to foster a rich and enabling research culture. All departments and centres in the Arts Faculty in the University, together with the Centres for Women and Gender and for Philosophy and Literature, contribute to the funding of the Centre along with generous support from the University itself.

The Centre has this year supported a number of conferences on a wide range of topics, organised both by members of staff and by students, through the Doctoral Fellow scheme in the University. It has also supported ongoing seminar series on History and the representation of the Emotions and the notion of diaspora, as well as a host of other research activities. Let me though pick out two more high profile events this year. In March a presentation from the Iranian film-maker Rakhshan Bani-Etemad in the Film Theatre of the University Arts Centre was not only a stimulating event in itself, but enabled the Centre to strengthen links with the Film Theatre and to forge new connections with the Iranian community in and around campus. Through our administration of the ‘Warwick in America’ scheme (see page 6), we were able to invite Judith Butler – without question one of the most distinguished voices in contemporary philosophy and cultural theory – to speak at an event that was sold out within days of its being announced.

I have been holding the fort for this year while Professor John King has been on leave, but it is no exaggeration to say that the smooth running and vitality of the Centre is down to the enthusiasm, imagination and energy of the Centre secretary, Sue Dibben. I’d like to thank her here on my own behalf and also on behalf of all those whose activities for the Centre she makes both possible and pleasurable.

Richard Dyer, Director

Arts and Humanities Research Awards

Arts and academics won over £1.4M worth of research grants and contracts in 2004/05. These included:

Ingrid Sykes, History, Wellcome Trust Fellowship, £117,680 – “Blindness, Sound and Medical Acoustics in 19th Century France”

Margot Finn/Steve Hindle, Renaissance Studies, Andrew W Mellon Research Grant, £182,589 – “The Spaces of the Past - Warwick-Newberry Collaboration”

Michael Rosenthal, History of Art, British Academy Senior Research Fellowship, £30,139 – “The Art of Colonial Australia”

Oliver Bennett, School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies, AHRC Impact Fellowship, £93,635

Hilary Marland, History, Wellcome Trust Project Grant, £125,712 – “The Politics and Practices of Health in Work in Britain, 1915-1974”

Two RCUK Fellowships in the Departments of French Studies and History - £125,000 each

Maria Luddy, History, AHRC Resource Enhancement Grant, £185,567 – “Women in Modern Irish Culture”

Liese Perrin

Research Support Services

Contact Us

If you have any comments on this publication or want any further information on the activities of the HRC, please contact Sue Dibben:

Address: Humanities Research Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL

Tel: (0)24 765 23401

Fax: (0)24 765 72997



The HRC is located in Room 452 of the Humanities Building

‘Body States: The Pilot Project’

A voyage through a man’s gastro-intestinal tract and a chance to ‘operate’ on a human being using pens, markers, brushes and pigments as ‘scientific instruments’ – these were just some of the opportunities presented to the audience of ‘Body States: The Pilot Project.’ The first phase of a collaboration between the Centre for the History of Medicine and the School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies, Body States brought together five live artists to explore the common concerns of the disciplines of performance and medical history. The Centre and the School are working towards creating a live art residency, a position that would allow a performance-based artist to develop work relevant to the history of medicine.

Interest in the project has been high: more than thirty artists responded to a call that went out last summer. Five were then selected to participate in Body States, an all-day, HRC/HEROBAC-funded event held Saturday, 11 June, at which the artists presented or performed their work. The Wellcome Trust also supported the event, through the Centre’s ‘Cultures and Practices of Health’ research programme.

The individuals who participated in Body States are all established artists with a wide variety of experience. Ansuman Biswas, for example, has worked as an actor, musician, installation artist, composer, filmmaker and writer. He has also presented his work in a number of different contexts, ranging from the Whitechapel Art Gallery and the Royal Ballet, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and MTV. Biswas’ piece for Body States was the ‘operation’ at which members of the audience were encouraged to take up ‘instruments’ and make their marks on the body of a ‘patient,’ raising questions about how the body is conceived both as object and as lived experience.

Despite employing vastly different methods in their work the artists share an interest in exploring medical themes, specifically with reference to the body. ‘As an interdisciplinary field,’ notes Dr Nicolas Whybrow, Director of Practice at the School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies, ‘performance studies recognises the body as the locus of socio-cultural, political and historical codings, as well as physiological and metabolic processes, if not ‘biological events’, to invoke Foucault. In recent years the medical(ised) body or body-in-medicine has captured the interest of a range of renowned performance and live artists seeking to interrogate what you might call its ‘operative state’ in a highly technologised, postorganic culture.’

According to Dr Hilary Marland, Director of the Centre for the History of Medicine, ‘The history of the body, embodiment, and lived bodily experience are areas of great interest to historians of medicine. By exploring the intersection between performance and medical history, this project provides vast opportunities for the mutual enrichment of the two disciplines.’

Body States brought these perspectives together in presentations and performances that took a critical approach to the notion of the medicalised body. Ju Gosling performed ‘Wheels on Fire,’ a monologue that examined the prejudices faced by wheelchair-users. The subtle association of wheelchairs with bondage and punishment, evident in the language employed to describe their use – being confined to a wheelchair, or being wheelchair-bound – was graphically underscored by the historical images of wheelchairs projected behind Gosling. She described post-Second World War chairs as ‘ugly, medicalised and designed to make the user almost completely dependent on someone else,’ yet she also celebrated the wheelchair as one form of technology among the many that has improve the way people live their lives.

Other work presented included ‘Host,’ by Phillip Warnell, an installation/performance incorporating video and film recordings, performance, and laser and sound. ‘Host’ made use of video material recorded whilst the artist had ingested a miniature camera, recording photographic images during its voyage through his gastro-intestinal tract. Warnell then ‘stitched’ the images into sequences which he finally composed into a four-screen video projection, creating a fascinating public environment from internal landscapes.

At the end of the event, after all five artists had presented their work, a panel discussion was held to consider how the two disciplines of performance and medical history had come together in the works displayed. The artists were joined by staff from the Centre for the History of Medicine and the School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies. As well as exploring the ways in which the disciplines overlapped, discussion touched on how the different approaches and methods of one might be applied to the other.

Following the success of Body States: The Pilot Project, the Centre and School are conducting further discussions with the artists to select one with whom to develop a funding application. With funding in place, the chosen artist would use their time at Warwick to develop performances, work with students, and participate in the research culture of both the Centre and the School. Further events and performances are planned at different stages in the overall project. For more information contact Jim Davis (, Hilary Marland (, Molly Rogers ( or Nicolas Whybrow (

'The Politics and Practices of Health in Work in Britain, 1915-1974'

The Centre for the History of Medicine has been awarded a project grant of £125k by the Wellcome Trust to conduct research on 'The Politics and Practices of Health in Work in Britain, 1915-1974'. The first study of attempts to turn the twentieth-century British workplace into a creative site for health improvement, this project represents a novel direction within the historical study of occupational health, and will complement excellent existing studies and ongoing research on hazardous trades, industrial disease, accidents, workingmen’s compensation and national insurance. The research will be conducted by Dr Vicky Long, Dr Hilary Marland and Dr Mathew Thomson.

Taking as its starting point the radical extension of ambitions regarding health in work during the First World War, the project will explore development in the contrasting economic circumstances of the interwar and post-war years, paying close attention to the impact of the new Welfare State, and concluding with the landmark 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act. It is the researchers’ hypothesis that the period 1915-1974 saw the emergence, partial fruition, but ultimate failure of visions and practices for constituting an industrial health service.

The project has two main approaches. First, focusing on the role of central government and its agencies, trade unions, employers, industrial welfare organisations and the field of occupational medicine, it will develop a history of policy and its politics. Secondly, it will reconstruct the history of practice in the workplace, with particular emphasis on the factory. Preliminary research has suggested that there is a much richer history of heath in work to be told than has hitherto been appreciated, in terms of everyday practice and also visions of an industrial health service that might have been.

Research for this project will be based predominantly around the still under-exploited trade union and employer records of the Modern Records Centre at Warwick, reports of government and medical and welfare organisations, the Mass-Observation Archives, periodical literature, the press and printed primary sources.

For more information contact Molly Rogers, Administrator, Centre for the History of Medicine (

Molly Rogers

Centre for the History of Medicine

Social Sites and Public Spaces:

A New Academic Network of Early Modernists

Social and cultural studies are experiencing a ‘spatial turn’. Scholars from numerous disciplines have (re-)discovered space as a key variable in human experience, which informed the structure of interpersonal relationships as well as more abstract ideas about people’s place in the locality, wider world and even the universe. Space-related research seems ever expanding and opens new perspectives on the past. Warwick historians play a prominent part in this process. Evidence includes the recent HRC conference on ‘Thinking Space in Early Modern England’ (organized by Doctoral Fellow James Brown) and the establishment of a network of scholars from the Universities of Dresden, Paris I and Warwick to study social sites and public spaces in preindustrial Europe. The project is supported by an ‘Academic Collaboration – International Networks’ grant from the Leverhulme Trust.

‘Time’ and ‘space’ provide basic categories of historical analysis. Scholars use them as a matter of course, if often in an implicit and unreflected manner. Within the various strands of European historiography, spatial dimensions appear in many different contexts, reflecting diverging scientific and political traditions. On the whole, ‘essentialist’ concepts such as the German Landesgeschichte, the French pays historiques or the English ‘county community’ tended to dominate over analytical approaches, e.g. regional analysis or investigations of the social constitution of space.

In recent years, however, awareness of the variable and relational – rather than absolute – nature of space has grown. Historians for example have paid increasing attention to micro-spaces like taverns, markets and parish churches on the one hand, and virtual or imaginary spaces (like Purgatory) on the other. Theoretical works from neighbouring disciplines such as Martina Löw’s Raumsoziologie (2001) or Bernhard Klein’s Maps and the Writing of Space (2001) provide them with timely conceptual guidance. These developments form the background for a new collaborative research initiative.

The international network ‘Social sites – Öffentliche Räume – Lieux d’échanges’ was established by historians Wolfgang Kaiser (Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne), Beat Kümin (University of Warwick) and Susanne Rau and Gerd Schwerhoff (Technical University, Dresden) in 2003 with the help of a pump-priming grant by Warwick’s Research Development Fund. It pursues two principal aims (a) to utilize spatial approaches for a better understanding of preindustrial Europe and (b) to advance space-related research more generally through interdisciplinary and international exchange.

The project hopes to assist scholars in the search for refined methodical tools and a common spatial terminology in the arts and social sciences. In an initial phase, network priorities include conference presentations (such as a panel on ‘Microspaces and the Wider World’ at the 45th German Historikertag in September 2004) and a series of three thematic workshops, dedicated to ‘political’, ‘religious’ and ‘social space’ respectively. Workshop I will be held at Warwick in November 2005. All activities are coordinated by the Network Facilitator, Tobias Hug ( Full details appear on the Network’s website (

Beat Kümin

Department of History

The Spaces of the Past

This project will study the extent to which the Renaissance, normally seen as a phenomenon limited to the 'high elites' of Europe, was experienced by the wider populations of the two continents, such as women and the poor. The first year of the project will centre on an investigation of the way those ordinary people encountered the Renaissance in the buildings around them - castles, inns, manor houses, hospitals and schools. In its second year, the programme will examine the exchanges of ideas between Renaissance Europe and the Americas, especially colonial Spanish America. The final year's research will focus on the period's religious and spiritual beliefs - including notions of the afterlife, ghosts and witchcraft.

Warwick staff are leading the creation of this innovative collaborative programme of research and postgraduate training with the Newberry Library of Chicago. Funded by a grant of $323,000 (£190,000) from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the project, entitled 'The Spaces of the Past: Renaissance & Early Modern Cultures in Transatlantic Contexts', will begin in October 2005. This interdisciplinary collaboration between Warwick's Centre for the Study of the Renaissance and the Newberry's Center for Renaissance Studies, will involve staff from the departments of History, English and Comparative Literary Studies, Classics and Ancient History, and French Studies.

The Newberry Library, whose collections number 1,500,000 printed titles, five million manuscript pages, and 300,000 historic maps, has particular strengths in the Renaissance, European discovery, exploration, and settlement of the Americas, and British literature and history. Its Center for Renaissance Studies organises a Consortium of 37 universities, which brings together Renaissance specialists from a wide range of North American universities, including some of the premier institutions in America's Midwest such as Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In addition to these research opportunities, a vital feature of the programme will be the development of training opportunities for postgraduate students. In each year, two postgraduate students will be appointed as Visiting Research Fellows. They will receive enhanced training and gain access to original sources not available at their home institution. Warwick postgraduates and recent Warwick PhDs will be appointed as VRFs in Year 2 of the programme and will spend up to 8 weeks at the Newberry Library - in Years 1 and 3 postgraduate students and recent PhDs from Newberry Consortium institutions will come to Warwick. Warwick PhD students and recent PhDs in History will be eligible to apply for places in the annual interdisciplinary summer workshops (each of a fortnight's duration) that will serve as the capstone events of each year's thematic activities.

Andrew Roadnight

Research Support Services

United States Initiative Funding for the HRC

The HRC was given £5000 under the University’s US initiative in order to raise the profile of Warwick in the US. £2,500 was allocated to fund a visit by a distinguished academic from the US to the Arts Faculty and £2,500 was allocated to support visits to the US by Warwick academics from the Arts Faculty.

This funding facilitated the invitation of Professor Judith Butler (Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric & Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley) who visited the University in May 2005, under the aegis of the Centre for Philosophy and Literature. Professor Butler gave a public lecture entitled, Torture and the Ethics of Photography, which was sold out, as well as holding a postgraduate seminar.

Four Warwick scholars were able to visit high profile academic institutions in the US during 2005. Dr Jonathan Vickery (Centre for Cultural Policy Studies) visited Princeton and the Pratt Institute in order to investigate research and teaching practices and establish sustainable collaborations. Dr Penny Roberts (History) attended the 51st meeting of the French Historical Studies Society conference, hosted by Stanford University, at which she gave a paper on Corporeal rhetoric and royal authority in a session which she organised on Early modern bodies and Dr Andrew Laird (Classics and Ancient History) conducted a research trip to UCLA. Dr Cecily Jones (Centre for Caribbean Studies) will attend the Annual Conference of the Southern Historical Association to deliver a paper on Not quite white women: a comparative perspective on gender, whiteness and social class in Barbados and North Carolina at the University of Atlanta in November 2005.

Liese Perrin

Research Support Services

The life and work of Sir Basil Spence 1907-76: architecture, tradition and modernity

Sir Basil Spence, who was described in 1964 by Henry-Russell Hitchcock as Britain’s leading architect, participated in every major area of post-war reconstruction, encompassing the design of social housing, schools and universities, monumental public buildings, and glamorous new commercial buildings. As President of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1958-60, Spence acted as an eloquent advocate for his profession, as well as producing some of the most dramatic symbols of twentieth-century Britain: the new cathedral at Coventry, the British Pavilion at Montreal’s Expo ’67, and the British Embassy in Rome. The acclaim and celebrity which Spence enjoyed at the height of his career contrasts markedly with the decline in critical esteem accorded to the architect after his death in 1976. Most histories of modern architecture written in the later twentieth century, while providing a sustained and thoughtful analysis of the achievements of British architects like Alison and Peter Smithson, James Stirling, and Denys Lasdun, make slight reference to Spence and his work.

Looking back from the twenty-first century, it seems imperative that the architecture of Spence should be considered alongside that of his contemporaries in order to arrive at a more rounded and inclusive view of the achievements of British architects in the post-war era, and of the way in which the profession adjusted to the prosperity of the 1960s after two decades of austerity. Prompted by the donation of Spence’s extensive archive to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Miles Glendinning and Jane Thomas (curators in Edinburgh) and I devised a research project designed to examine his career and assess his achievement. In 2004, I secured an AHRB award for an Anglo-Scottish research project which would bring our joint academic and curatorial expertise to bear on the interpretation of Spence’s archive and architecture. A post-doctoral Research Fellow based at the Royal Commission in Edinburgh has been recruited to undertake research on Spence’s work in Scotland; this October he will be joined by another Fellow, based at Warwick, who will scrutinize Spence’s work south of the border, together with a doctoral student who, by studying Spence’s work alongside that of Sir Donald Gibson, Coventry’s first city architect, will illuminate key differences between the architect in the public and the private sector. Our aims – by studying the buildings, by using the archive, and by interviewing surviving assistants and partners – are to prepare a Spence centenary exhibition to be held at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2007, together with a scholarly source-book, and an academic conference setting Spence in the broader context of twentieth-century architecture. Meanwhile, paralleling our research project, the archive is being catalogued, conserved and digitised by the Royal Commission, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Spence’s superb draughtsmanship and his gift for co-ordinating the elements of a design – furniture, artworks, landscaping – produced some seductive graphic images: painterly perspectives, delicate sketches, and dramatic chiaroscuro studies, which promise to make a visually exciting exhibition. At the same time, they confront us with the problem of reconciling the artistry of these drawings with the more mundane realities of the post-war building world. A further – and more substantial – challenge will be to chart the personal and professional dynamics of an organisation which comprised three offices, several partners and a fast-changing population of assistants and students, in such as way as to produce a biography of a complex architectural practice alongside that of the individual who directed it.

Louise Campbell

History of Art Department

The Politics and Economics of Translation in Global Media

When we read newspapers, we frequently come across quotes from people around the world embedded in articles. We read those quotes as we would read any other text in a newspaper, without pausing to consider whether the words reproduced on the page are the actual words that were spoken by real people. An assumption of veracity underpins our reading, hence if something is given to us in quotation marks, the intention is to present accurately and truthfully what was actually said and we as readers accept that. But the use of direct speech in newspapers is culturally determined: it is an established convention in Britain, but not in France or Germany , for example, where indirect speech is the norm. Other conventions are also cultural. British readers like pithy headlines, but they like to read a story that builds gradually to a climax, hence information is added gradually as the article progresses. French readers, in contrast, like information up front from the outset, and the slow build-up or the ironic reversal that British readers favour would not work.

What does the existence of such conventions mean for translators of news reports? This is just one of the problems that we are dealing with in an AHRB funded project that is exploring the politics and economics of translation in global media. For as news is transferred with ever-increasing speed around the world, so journalists shape the basic information into forms that will be acceptable in different cultural contexts. What we are studying is how that information travels and how it is constructed anew as it travels across linguistic and national boundaries. Amazingly, given the importance of translation in the transmission of news, this is a phenomenon that has received very little attention by scholars working in translation studies, media studies or globalisation studies until now.

Underpinning the research is the vexed problem of whether the term ‘translation’ can be used at all. For although there is an interlingual aspect to news translation, there are all kinds of other textual shaping processes that go on, including synthesising material, deciding whether to use direct or indirect speech and conformity to other conventions, conforming to a whole range of constraints, from word limits to house style to ideological pressures. The activity that we refer to as translation appears to be a textual practice that is distinct from that which we have generally perceived as translation, a practice that approximates in some respects more closely to interpreting.

Last year, in 2004 we held a symposium that brought together academics, journalists from leading international news agencies such as Reuters and Agence France Presse and translators. This year we shall be holding two events: one in April jointly with the University of Aston that will focus on the representation in the media of global terror and another in October, jointly with the Centre for the Study of Globalisation here at Warwick. We believe that the best way to explore some of the complex issues in this rich and under explored field is to bring together people from a wide variety of backgrounds in what we hope are genuinely interdisciplinary encounters.

For more information on the project and on the events planned for 2005, consult our website at

Susan Bassnett

Centre for Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies

The medieval Occitan tensos and partimens

The medieval troubadours are best known for their ‘invention’ of Courtly Love and the highly-wrought courtly canso or love lyric, and to a lesser extent their satirical or political sirventes, celebrated by Dante in his Commedia and De Vulgari Eloquentia and influencing European-wide literature and sensibility from the Middle Ages to the present day. Less well known are their tensos and partimens, or dialogue poems. These are of interest for a number of reasons: their manuscript transmission seems to differ significantly from that of the cansos and sirventes; and they bring us much closer to the ordinary lives, and language, of their interlocutors. They can also shed new light on the tastes and personal relationships within courtly society. Some decades ago Professor John Marshall embarked on a new critical edition of the entire corpus of these 173-odd pieces, but in the 1980s was unable to continue because of failing eyesight. In 2000 he handed over all his materials to Ruth Harvey and Linda Paterson who have undertaken to update and complete his edition. They were awarded a British Academy grant for a pilot study, followed by a £178,821 three-year grant from the AHRB Resource Enhancement Scheme, which has enabled them to hire two very highly qualified research assistants from Italy, Dr Anna Radaelli and Dr Claudio Franchi. The size of the undertaking is such that collaboration has also been sought from other scholars, and contributors working on editions of individual or small groups of texts now include Professors Walter Meliga and Giuseppe Noto of the University of Turin, Zeno Verlato of the University of Padua, and some of Meliga’s postgraduate students under his supervision. It is hoped to publish the edition in four volumes with Mucchi (Modena) in the Corpus des Troubadours series, and also to place the texts on the Rialto website run as an international research resource by the University of Naples (

Linda M. Paterson

Department of French Studies

Na Carenza al bel cors avenenç,

dunaz conseil a nus duas serors,

e car saubez mielz triar la meilors,

consilaz mi secund vostra ’scienç

penre marit, a vostra conoscença?

O ’starai mi pulcela?—e si m’agença,

que far fillos non cuit que sia bons

e ssens marit mi par trop anguisos.

N’Alaisina ’Yselda, ’nsenghamenç,

prez e beltaz, jovenz, frescas colurs

conusc c’avez, cortisia e valurç

subre tuttas las a[u]tras conoscenz,

per qu’I[e].us conseil, per far bona semenza,

penre marit coronat de scïenza,

en cui farez fruit de fil glorïos.

Retenguda ’s pulcela d’est espus.

Na Carenza, penre marit m’agenza,

mas far infanz cuit qu’es gran penitenza,

que las tetinas penden aval jos

el las[c] ventril aruat e ’nnoios.

N’Alascina ’Yselda, sovinenza

aiaç de mi: a l’umbra de ghirenza,

quant isireç, preiaz lo Glorïos

qu’al departir mi ritenga pres vus

Fair, lovely Lady Carenza, give some counsel to us two sisters; and since you best know how to choose the better side, in the light of your experience do you advise me to take a husband, in your judgment? Or shall I remain a virgin?—I find this attractive, for childbearing doesn’t appeal to me; yet it seems very wretched not to have a husband.

Lady Alaisina and Yselda, I see that you are well brought up, and that you have merit and beauty, youth, a fresh complexion, courtliness and worth, above all other well educated ladies; so I advise you to take a husband crowned with wisdom in order to produce good seed, through which you will make fruit of a glorious son. Honoured is the bride of such a spouse.

Lady Carenza, I like the idea of taking a husband, but I think it must be a great penance to make babies, for your breasts sag right down to your flabby, wrinkled, disgusting belly.

Lady Alaisina and Yselda, keep me in your remembrance; when you leave, pray to the Glorious One that at our parting he will keep me close to you, in the shade of his protection.

The Perdita Project

The Perdita Project exists to find and to catalogue early modern women’s manuscript writing. Since there was a cultural taboo on women publishing between 1500 and 1700, much of what women were thinking and writing exists only in manuscript. This AHRC funded Project has looked at over 500 manuscripts since it began in 1999, and it is currently compiling a detailed electronic catalogue of these manuscripts. The Project’s website is

On March 3rd an edition of poetry from the manuscripts, Early Modern Women’s Manuscript Poetry, was published with Manchester University Press. One of the editors is Jill Seal Millman who is currently employed at Warwick. The director of the project, Elizabeth Clarke, (Reader in English), co-wrote the introduction. The volume contains manuscript poetry by well-known women such as Mary Wroth and Katherine Philips, as well as by others whose work has never been published before. We have contributed several new names to the New Dictionary of National Biography. Women like Julia Palmer, a 1670s poet, and Elizabeth Jekyll, a 1640s diarist, are now no longer ‘lost’, but it took a significant effort to find them, as they were not aristocratic or famous.

The Project’s big event of 2005 was an international conference at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, 2-4th July, sponsored by Warwick’s HRC and English department, called ‘Still Kissing the Rod: Early Modern Women’s Writing in 2005’. The title is taken from Germaine Greer’s anthology of women’s manuscript writing, Kissing the Rod, which initiated interest in the kind of manuscript that the Perdita Project is now cataloguing way back in 1987. The conference examined progress in the field of early modern women’s writing since 1987: the role of theory, changes in the male-dominated early modern canon, newly-discovered women’s writing, and the impact of projects such as the Perdita Project. It also discussed priorities for the future, including such topics as academic politics and the market for publication, as well as identifying research areas for further investigation

Elizabeth Clarke

Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies

Interdisciplinary Seminars

A Cultural History of Celebrity

What is and has been the cultural value of celebrity? This is the question that will be debated in the HRC seminar series on ‘A Cultural History of Celebrity’ to run in the coming academic year. It will consider the phenomenon in its many manifestations from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day. Figures as diverse as Nelson, Byron, Flaubert, Marlene Dietrich and Sarah Jessica Parker, just some of the public figures discussed in the series, have all played the high-risk game of exposing themselves to the cult of celebrity. The series aims to give a historical framework to the consideration of this much-discussed phenomenon, bringing together ideas of heroism, fame, genius and the icon in intellectual and cultural life, as well as in popular culture. Speakers will consider the familiar narrative of the displacement of heroism (active, socially useful, often masculine) by celebrity (passive, parasitical, often feminised) in modern life, and to investigate and challenge its assumptions. It will also examine the impact of celebrity on cultural production, considering the public figure of the artist and the intellectual and exploring how their renown may not just follow from their work but also shape and direct it.

The series will begin with a round-table discussion of ‘The Cultural Value of Celebrity’, involving members from several Warwick departments including Film and Television Studies, English, French, and German, and papers will follow on topics such as Nelson and heroism, the cult of Lord Byron, Madame Tussauds and the history of the waxworks museum, and the phenomenon of Heat magazine.

For further information contact Dr Liz Barry ( from the Department of English.

Liz Barry

Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies

Conference Reports


University of Warwick, September 16th-18th 2004

Philosophers are notoriously disputatious, and even the idea that there exist genuine philosophical problems, and that they are significant, is something on which they are quite unable to agree. The subject has been depreciated by Wittgenstein, for example, as no more than a therapy devoted to the resolution of linguistic tangles; by Rorty as a species of highbrow conversation; and by those who follow the flag of naturalism as a branch of empirical psychology or sociology, to be investigated by standard scientific methods. But there are others who are not bored by philosophy (though they are a little bored by the anti-philosophy of those who are bored by philosophy). One of the principal recent champions of the authenticity of philosophical problems was Karl Popper (28.vii.1902-17.ix.1994), who in 1971 was admitted by the University to the degree of Litt.D., honoris causa . Last September a conference was held at Warwick to mark the tenth anniversary of his death.

The title of the conference is derived from a lecture 'Science: Problems, Aims, Responsibilities' that Popper gave to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in April 1963 (the lecture is published in The Myth of the Framework, 1994). It is therefore apposite that one of the sessions was a symposium on the currently popular idea (known as data mining) that one of the best ways forward in the empirical sciences, especially biology and chemistry, is through the computer analysis of mountains of data, in the expectation that the sought-for generalizations will be squeezed out by sheer force. This doctrine, that there is a rigorous method of proceeding from data to theory, usually called induction, was always opposed by Popper, who championed the idea that theories must come first, and that the job of empirical investigation is not to suggest generalizations but only to eliminate those of them that are false.

Popper was one of the few people of recent years to be a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the British Academy. The range of topics covered in the conference was correspondingly broad. There were invited lectures on Popper's 3-world metaphysics and on its application to education, on the central place in his thinking occupied by the ideas of creativity and emergence, a comparison of two of the major works of political philosophy of the 20th century, Popper's The Open Society & Its Enemies} and John Rawls's A Theory of Justice, and a lecture on the connection between postmodernism and Hindu nationalism. In addition, an invited lecture marked the 70th anniversary of the publication in Vienna in 1934 of Popper's first (and greatest) book, Logik der Forschung, which was translated 25 years later as The Logic of Scientific Discovery and, like all Popper's books in English, has remained in print ever since publication.

Thirty-eight contributed papers were also presented, on subjects as diverse as consciousness, Rawls, machine learning, confirmation theory, theology, economic theory, technology, science education, Kant, criminology, historiography, the politics of the third world, Hayek, postmodernism, Habermas, paraconsistent logic, ethics, and even military science.

The conference received generous support from the British Society for the Philosophy of Science, Routledge, the Open Court Publishing Company, Ashgate Publishing, the Austrian Cultural Forum (London), the Karl Popper Charitable Trust, and (at the University of Warwick) the Departments of Philosophy and of Biological Sciences, and the Humanities Research Centre. It was attended by ninety scholars and students from 26 countries.

Website: fac/soc/philosophy/staff/miller/phpar/.

David Miller

Department of Psychology

Dialogue with Tradition: Contemporary Writers and Literary Heritage

The conference, organized by Liz Wren-Owens (Italian) was held on Saturday 5th February 2005. Researchers from Arabic, English, French, German, Italian and Portuguese departments met to discuss the ways in which writers in their disciplines from the 1970s onwards used literary heritage in their own work.

The conference took 1970 as a starting point, based on the notion that dialogue with tradition changed around this time due to a crisis on literature and the belief that writers could no longer say anything new or original. The keynote speaker, Professor Martin McLaughlin (University of Oxford), contextualized this crisis in light of an earlier crisis (particularly in the Italian tradition) at the time of the Renaissance. Professor McLaughlin began by examining the peculiar nature of the Italian literary canon, which produced three great writers between 1305-1350 in Dante, Petrarch and Boccacio, and then saw an absence of literary giants until 1500. As a result of the dominance of this triumvirate, the writers of the Renaissance, such as Poliziano and Alberti felt that their own writings could only be mosaics of the works which preceded them. Professor McLaughlin suggested that the Italian crisis of ‘originality’ might in fact be traced back to the period 1370-1470, rather than just to the 1970s when the notion of re-writing was brought to the fore by writers such as Bachtin, Kristeva and Harold Bloom. Professor McLaughlin then offered an overview of dialogue with tradition in Italo Calvino’s texts of the 1970s, examining the ways in which The Invisible Cities is a re-writing of Marco Polo and suggesting that Mr Palomar is modelled on Pliny. Professor McLaughlin’s keynote address offered a valuable and interesting contextualization for the papers which followed.

The theoretical debate within the Italian tradition in the 1970s as to what literature should aim to do was explored in Florian Mussgnug’s (UCL) paper, offering an interesting parallel with the later papers which explored how debate with the canon was achieved in practice in the work of individual papers. Interesting links between the different national traditions and methodologies emerged throughout the day, as papers explored the ways in which key literary figures were used (and abused) both in their national tradition and abroad. In addition to the great figures of the canon such as Dante, lesser known figures such as W.G. Sebald and Fernando Pessoa also emerged as representing important notions for writers both inside and outside their national boundaries. Papers illustrated how through appropriating and re-working the texts, characters and central concepts of the literary canon, contemporary writers attempt to situate themselves and to problematize notions of both the past and present.

Throughout the day the notion of dialogue with tradition as a politicized, religious and potentially transgressive process was also addressed, with an analysis of how the British government uses the canon in education policy (Claire Feehily, Birbeck College) and the issues faced by Islamic writers when they write in Arabic, the language of the Qura’n (Mohammed-Salah Omri, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter).

Liz Wren – Owens

Department of Italian

HRC Doctoral Fellow

HRC Activities

Annual Donald Charlton Lecture

We are pleased to announce that Sigrid Weigel, Director of Zentrum für Literaturforschung (Berlin), will give the annual Donald Charlton Lecture on Thursday 16th February 2006. Her publications include Body- and Image-Space: Re-Reading Walter Benjamin (Routledge, 1996); "Aby Warburg's Schlangenritual" (New German Critique, 1995); "Eros and Language in Walter Benjamin's Writings," in Benjamin's Ghosts (Stanford, 2002); and "Secularization and Sacralization, Normalization and Rupture: Kristeva and Arendt on Forgiveness" (PMLA, 2002).

HRC Visiting Fellow

The HRC hosts a distinguished scholar in residence for a week each year. Past Visiting Fellows have included: Eugenio Barba (2001), Mario Vargas Llosa (2002), Ngugi wa Thiong'o (2003) and Monica Ali (2004). The HRC Visiting Fellow for 2004-05 was Professor Lauren Berlant (University of Chicago). Professor Berlant gave a lecture entitled ‘It’s not the tragedies, it’s the messes: couples, couplets, and Dorothy Parker’. Next year we are hoping to invite Carlos Fuentes.

Doctoral Fellowships

The HRC awards a number of Doctoral Fellowships each year. The Fellowships are intended to enhance work on a PhD and include a contribution towards students’ research expenses and funding to organise a one-day conference on a topic close to the area of their dissertation. James Bennett and Tom Brown, students in the Department of Film and Television Studies, were awarded a joint Doctoral Fellowship in 2004. The one – day conference entitled ‘What is a DVD?…some people are disappointed to only get the film’ was held on Saturday 23 April 2005.

What is a DVD?

“What is a DVD? … some people are disappointed to only get the film” was a multi-disciplinary, international event that discussed the impact of this cultural phenomenon on established scholarly fields, traditional media forms and industrial practices. The conference brought together pre-eminent scholars from the fields of film, television and new media each offering distinct perspectives on the DVD as a cultural and/or media form. Most notably, pre-eminent US scholars Professor Barbara Klinger (Indiana University) and Professor John T. Caldwell (UCLA) were in attendance to provide the day’s opening and closing plenary papers.

DVD being hailed as both the death of cinema and other old media, as well as the advent of new artistic, narrative and industrial possibilities, this conference represented a timely intervention in the field of media studies.

In particular, the conference traced DVD’s antecedents in other media forms and consumption practices. This theme was tied together by the opening and closing plenaries. Professor Klinger considered the continuities with previous forms of home film exhibition technologies alongside DVD’s subsequent shaping of a series of film cultures in the home. In doing so she suggested that this new technology led to the pursuit of the “perfect DVD film”. Following from this were sessions on “consumption”, “construction” and “production”. Various speakers were able to discuss new and old aesthetic, consumer and industrial practices from a range of perspectives. The day concluded by Professor Caldwell demonstrating the industrial television practices that had pre-figured the DVDs packaging of “bonus material”.

What was remarkable, given the variety of papers and disciplines from which speakers and audience approached the topic, was the continual appearance of shared themes and interests. The conference opened the eyes of all those in attendance to the possibilities of cross-disciplinary approaches to this emerging cultural artefact.

James Bennett and Tom Brown

Department of Film and Television Studies

HRC Doctoral Fellows

Doctoral Fellowship Competition Winners 2005/06

Michael Niblett and Kerstin Oloff


‘Writing The Other America: The estuary of the Americas in the literary imagination of the Caribbean and Latin America’

Erin Somerville


‘Caribbean and the Environment’

Nicola Wilson


‘Writing Class: Representations of Working – Class Spaces in Modern Britain’