Nineteenth-Century Graduate Forum

We are thrilled to announce the Trinity Term Nineteenth-Century Forum, scheduled for Wednesday 12th of June (Week 8) from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in Seminar Room A (English Faculty). To sign up to attend the forum, please fill in this form:
Please sign up so that we can accommodate biscuits, tea and coffee. But, of course, if you haven’t signed up, do feel free to just show up on the day.

We want to emphasize that the Nineteenth-Century Graduate Forum is open to all who wish to participate.

Just a reminder of the Structure: * Each session will feature two to three presentations, allowing speakers to showcase their work in progress. * To ensure fruitful discussions, speakers are required to submit a brief abstract of their presentation. This abstract will be circulated among participants. * Presentations should last approximately 15 minutes, followed by a 25-minute period dedicated to discussion and feedback.


Bovids Bloated on the Brain: Imagining with Inflation in Thomas Hardy’s Novels, Yanrong Tan

A tiny clover enters a sheep’s mouth, ferments into gasses of indigestion that distend its guts, and bloats the sheep into a hefty roundness felt substantially in the brain. Such images recur in scenes particularly characteristic of Hardy, often lauded for how closely his descriptions approximate direct experience of a real world. This is no mean feat, given how difficult it can be to set and keep in motion the immensely effortful cognitive work of converting words into images. Writers like Hardy become intriguing objects of study for literary scholars to ask: what are the strategies by which literary artists work through difficulties in imagining, and what do they in turn reveal about the human imagination? Drawing on insights from philosophy and aesthetics, cognitive literary studies and cognitive psychology, this paper explores how images of inflation might work in Far from the Madding Crowd to activate the imagination. It argues that inflation, through its structural sympathy with the imagination,
reduces the strenuousness to imagining that would otherwise threaten the substantiality of the image, then heightens the need and desire for imagining, to coax and compel continuous work on the image. Inflation sets the imagination going by making its work easy, then makes it so necessary and desirable for the imagination to keep going as to overwhelm any aversion to its effortfulness.

Explosives on the Mantlepiece: Anarchism and the Boundaries between Private and Public Space in the Late-Nineteenth Century,
Megan Williams

Where other prominent middle-class English radicals in the late-nineteenth century maintained their class background through private property (William Morris’s Kelmscott Manor, for example) Helen and Olivia Rossetti, teenage editors of the anarchist journal The Torch (1891-1896), were able to interrogate their position in society because of their youth, as they were unburdened by property interests. Instead, they sabotaged social norms through undermining social space – speaking openly at open-air meetings in Hyde Park, distributing anarchist propaganda on the street, and operating an anarchist printing press from the basement of their parent’s suburban townhouse.

In this paper, I explore how two ideas – that anarchism is a spatial understanding of the world, and that there is no clear boundary between thought and action – point towards the spatialisation of affect in the writing of the Rossetti sisters.

Recovering the female voice: Eleanor Marx’s translation of Ibsen’s En folkefiende (An Enemy of the People), Tzen Sam

The introduction of Henrik Ibsen’s plays to England began in the 1870s and culminated in the heated ‘Ibsen battles’ of the 1890s. While this period has received sustained critical attention, this has focussed on the role of several prominent men who are largely credited as the main Ibsen champions in England. While Edmund Gosse, William Archer and George Bernard Shaw were undoubtedly instrumental in shaping the impact of Ibsen on the theatrical culture of the fin-de-siècle, it is vital to redress the scholarly imbalance in their favour that has obscured the women whose translations first introduced Ibsen to England. In the context of late-Victorian socialist, suffragist and spiritualist movements, the phenomenon of the female Ibsen translator and mediator invites renewed attention.

In this paper, I compare Eleanor Marx’s translation of En folkefiende with those of her male peers. Through close analysis of the translators’ treatment of Thomas Stockmann, his wife Katrine, and their daughter Petra, I consider the extent to which translation can offer us an insight into each translator’s hidden agenda. I argue that Marx’s translation highlights aspects of each character that have been largely overlooked or brushed under the carpet by Ibsen’s male champions, forcing us to take a closer look at the unpalatable aspects of Stockmann’s interaction with women in the play while enlarging the possibilities for complexity and moral agency in the characters of his wife and daughter.