Storify of our #bookhour on THE HEART GOES LAST by Margaret Atwood

During November’s #bookhour, Sam Cooper, Terri-Jane Dow, Dr Karma Waltonen, and #bookhour organiser Dr Diletta De Cristofaro discussed Margaret Atwood’s latest dystopia, The Heart Goes Last (2015). The chat considered the satiric aspects of Atwood’s novel, the characters, and the narrative focalisation – elements which sparked debates around the believability of the plot. The discussion also focussed on the notions of utopia and dystopia, on the role of surveillance and desire in the Positron Project, on the economic crisis and the text’s suburban imagery. Check out the storify here. Continue reading

Teaching U.S Women’s History in British Universities: a Personal and Political History

The first post in our new HOTCUS-led ‘Teaching America’ series is by Dr Kate Dossett (University of Leeds) who reflects on her own experiences of designing a course on U.S. women’s history, and how she has encouraged British undergraduate students to consider how their own gender identity shapes their approach to the study of history. Continue reading

Storify of our #bookhour twitter chat on “Herland” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

During August’s #bookhour discussion Dr. Fran Bigman, Dr. Ben Nichols, Dr. Joanna Freer and #bookhour organiser Joanne Mildenhall chatted about Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “Herland” (1915). The discussion looked at the question of Herland as utopia, considering the roles of the male protagonists and the functions of gender, sexuality, romance and love in the novella. Participants focused on the central concept of motherhood, and questioned whether Gilman’s text could be considered feminist. Catch up on the discussion here. Continue reading

‘The speed of every incident is unbelievable’: Writer Muriel Rukeyser and the Spanish Civil War

Having been awarded funding through the AHRC International Placement Scheme, I arrived in Washington DC in early October 2014 to begin research in the Muriel Rukeyser Papers held at the Library of Congress. Rukeyser’s diary and notes from Spain at the Library of Congress furthered my understanding of how the article was produced. The sense of speed that characterised ‘Barcelona, 1936’ was even more evident in her diary, which she wrote in short phrases, punctuated by dashes as though she was keen to capture events as they unfolded. As well as her diary, the archive contains lists, maps, sketches and even another passenger’s diary from Spain. I had a sense that Rukeyser had chosen a camera-like aesthetic but the archive revealed just how far Rukeyser had gone to document what she had seen. Continue reading

Storify of our #bookhour twitter chat on STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel

On Tuesday 28th July, Diletta De Cristofaro discussed Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel with Fran Bigman, Niall Harrison and Dan King. The panel focussed on the contrast between the beauty and violence of the post-apocalyptic world, and whether the novel could be considered a “quiet” post-apocalyptic novel; the structure of the plot and the connections it traces between space and time; the binary “great” art/popular culture – especially in light of the comic Dr Eleven and of the Shakespeare performances – and the lack of creativity of the post-apocalyptic world. Catch up on the storify here. Continue reading

Review: ‘Poetry and Collaboration in the Age of Modernism’ Conference

Because the word “collaboration” can contain so much, ‘Poetry and Collaboration’ brought together scholars with wildly different interpretations of what it means to work together. The opening keynote by Peter Howarth (Queen Mary) set the tone by being generally definitional. For Howarth, the word could potentially replace “context” in discussions of historical environment, in order to give us a more active way to talk about the interactions between artists and their surroundings. Continue reading

Youth Politics and Dispelling the Image of The Terrible Turk with Selma Ekrem’s Autobiography, Unveiled

Within the confines of Ekrem’s autobiography rests not only a riveting exploration of the final hours of the Ottoman Empire, but one is allowed a unique glimpse behind the veils of Istanbul. It has further merits in that, through her use of her childhood and female memories, Ekrem was able to begin to dispel the “vague ideas of daggers, veils, ephemeral silks and heavy incense” that dominated one’s perception of Turkey and to chink at the armor of the Terrible Turk, “[a] huge person with fierce black eyes and bushy eyebrows, carrying daggers covered with blood.” Continue reading