Conference Report: Victorian Orientalism(s)

Conference Report: Victorian Orientalism(s)

27th-29th June Ragusa Ibla, Sicily, Lois Thomas In June this year, with the support of a postgraduate travel bursary, I packed my bags and merrily boarded a well-known budget airline flight for Trapani, Sicily to attend the inaugural conference of the Universities of Ghent and Catania. The subject was ‘Victorian Orientalism(s)’ and presented an opportunity for me to finally commit to paper my thoughts about the persistence of oriental imagery in the accounts of transgressive and revelatory experience that form the basis of my PhD thesis. Arriving on the west coast of the island, the first challenge was to negotiate Sicily’s bus service to travel across to the tiny, perfect baroque town of Ragusa Ibla in the South East. This turned out to be no great hardship. Cruising along through the Sicilian countryside accompanied by wonderful views, good tunes and air conditioning, I was able to take in the cities of Palermo and Catania en route to the conference venue. A new...
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Research Seminar: Feeling Cold: Phenomenology, Spatiality, & The Politics of Sensation

Research Seminar: Feeling Cold: Phenomenology, Spatiality, & The Politics of Sensation

En route to this week’s research seminar, I begin to fancy I understand a lot about ‘feeling cold’ and very little about spatiality. Icy needles of relentless rain drip down my neck and flood my shoes while the Dean Walters building seems to have mysteriously relocated to a space far further from my new job at London Road than I had remembered. Still, I scurry on through sodden Liverpool, crashing through the door thankfully just in time to catch the beginning of Stephanie Clare’s thoughtful and stimulating first paper of seminar season. And not a moment too soon. Stephanie has a lot of ground to cover with us this evening and she carefully guides us through her interesting and challenging concept by dividing her paper into three distinct sections. Using examples from Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and Sandra L Bartky’s work on feminism and phenomenology; she shows how characters who become suddenly aware of being objectified in some way,...
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‘Libraries Gave us Power’

‘Libraries Gave us Power’

Policy Provocations 2012 poses the question – do we still need libraries? When I think about what libraries have meant to me, I find myself (as many do) in emotive territory. My earliest encounter with library membership involved visits to Widnes’s Kingsway Library on Saturday mornings as a child of about 5 or 6. My mum was a nurse working night shifts, so to give her some peace to sleep, my dad would take my older sister and me off to the local market for the weekly shop and then we would stop off at the library to choose our books. My sister, in her early teens, would often get albums of her favourite bands (an embarrassing amount of All About Eve I am sorry to tell) which she would then ‘tape’ on a double cassette deck (retro) noting with care the tracks on the new sleeve and making compilations. I joined the book club, gamely reviewing the classic The Owl...
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Research Seminar: Oh, What Beautiful Books!

Research Seminar: Oh, What Beautiful Books!

‘Oh, What Beautiful Books!’: Captivated Readers in an Early-Victorian Gaol As November ushered in its customary chill, a warm welcome awaited the delegates who gathered for the first paper in this year’s series of seminars. The turn-out was impressive, featuring staff and students from both LJMU and our neighbours at the University of Liverpool, all eager to hear Dr Helen Rogers’s fascinating research into the impact of nineteenth-century prison visitor Sarah Martin and her work with the inmates of Yarmouth Gaol. What followed was a hugely affecting paper, felt all the more keenly owing to Helen’s presentation of the material, which revealed her own emotional response to the scholarly research. We learned how the literally ‘captive’ boys were simultaneously captivated by the reading material offered by Sarah Martin. She sought out books that they could keep and they in turn made the learning process their own, jostling to pore over the illustrations depicting simple moral tales featuring characters seemingly like themselves and...
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