11 December 2009
Transatlantic Literary Studies Lecture to launch the Transatlantic Literary Studies series
St. Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh
Professor David Simpson (English, University of California at Davis)
Translating America in the Early Nineteenth Century
13 November 2009
"Darwin and Lincoln on Race and Society". A joint RSE/IASH One-day Conference
13 November 2009
The Royal Society of Edinburgh, 22-26 George Street
Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on the same day in the same year: 12 February 1809. The 200th anniversary celebrations on both sides of the Atlantic remind us that the American President and the British zoologist jointly helped to shape the modern world. Questioning established hierachies of nature, race and class, their legacy of civil and scientific liberalism still holds radical potential today. The day conference will explore connections and conflicts between Darwin's and Lincoln's work including the origins of their thinking in Enlightenment discussions of human nature and society, the nature of their original contribution and its reverberations in contemporary culture and politics.
Professor Catherine Clinton (Queen's University Belfast)
Dr Jon Hodge (University of Leeds)
Professor James A. Moore (The Open University)
Conference fee: £27 (with lunch); £15 (without lunch)
For programme and report see the RSE website
The Conference was followed by a public lecture by Marek Kohn (author and columnist): "Believing in Change: Darwin, Lincoln, Obama".
Marek Kohn writes books and articles about a range of interconnected themes, including ideas about human nature and human difference, evolutionary thinking and its impact on society, national identity, and trust. His books include: A Reason for Everything: Natural Selection and the English Imagination; As We Know It: Coming to Terms with an Evolved Mind; and The Race Gallery: The Return of Racial Science. He writes for the Independent, the Guardian and the New Statesman. He is also a fellow in the Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics at the University of Brighton.
7 May 2009
SPECULATIVE LUNCH: "Mestizaje, Créolité and Hybridity"
7th May, 1pm-2pm. INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES IN THE HUMANITIES
This event aims to bring together scholars who are or might be interested in revisiting and revising theoretical concepts such as "mestizaje", "créolité" and "hybridity" in a globalised and transatlantic world. These concepts, which connect the fields of Postcolonial Studies, Critical Race Theory, (U.S.) Third World feminism and Gender Studies, among others, spring from specific cultural, historical, linguistic and racial contexts, but are also closely related to transnational and transatlantic dynamics. They inform a whole range of research that refers to the "ethnic", the "postmodern" and the "anthropological" in the 21st Century.This speculative lunch will give scholars the opportunity of discussing the importance of these theoretical concepts from an interdisciplinary perspective. Therefore, it will be open to scholars from any discipline at the University of Edinburgh.
January to March 2009
Seminar Series 2009
In 2009, the STAR Project hosted a successful seminar series through the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. In collaboration with the Institute and its Fellows, STAR is drawing an ever larger group of academics for its fortnightly presentations and reading group discussions. Thanks to the contributions of scholars from a number of disciplines, the STAR Project continues to provide a locus for transatlantic research with a Scottish dimension; and through a variety of seminars, conferences, publication ventures and other collaborations, it continues to provide texture for ongoing debates concerning transatlantic theory in practice.
Seminars were held at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh Mondays, 4-6 pm. Exceptionally, the first seminar was held at Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15a George Square, Edinburgh.
19 January 2009
Professor Ian Duncan (Department of English, University of California)
Darwin, crcumnavigation, and the aesthetics of world history
Darwin's Journal of Researches represents the culmination of a distinctive Enlightenment tradition of circumnavigation writing. It registers the breakup of the science of man and world history into controversial new forms: the natural history of man (Lamarck), and the history of the earth (Lyell). Basing his account on the work of circumnavigation, Darwin develops the travelogue's combination of personal memoir and record of scientific observation into a volatile synthesis of Romantic self-growth with an encyclopedic claim to total knowledge.
2 February 2009
Professor Clare Pettitt (Department of English, King's College London)
Within call? Transatlantic time lag in the nineteenth-century
This paper uses the long transatlantic correspondence between Elizabeth Gaskell living in Manchester, and Charles Eliot Norton living in Boston, to think about transatlantic distance and the writers' own vexed sense of their'contemporaneousness'. It shows how Norton tried to explain the complexities of the Civil War to a bewildered Gaskell who was living amidst the misery created by that conflict in Manchester during the Cotton Famine. It uses the 'Trent Affair' to discuss the time lag that meant that news of events in the American war reached Britain two or three weeks after they had happened. It also thinks about the important ways in which both Norton's and Gaskell's visions of humanitarian aid and reform were influenced by the war. The paper then goes on to suggest that the historical novel that Gaskell was writing during these years, Sylvias Lovers (1863), is, in fact, her 'American' novel, haunted as it is by the vastness of the ocean, a tragic sense of time lag and a distant war. Finally the paper hazards the idea that the unprecedented (but uneven) ways in which spatial distance was being experienced in the mid-nineteenth century directly influenced literary writers in their representations of temporal distance and
16 February 2009
Joint Session with the Human Geography Research Group:
Dr Innes Keighren (Geography, University of Edinburgh)
Inscription, observation, and trust: Understanding British travellers' accounts of nineteenth-century South America
During the first half of the nineteenth century, the London publisher John Murray issued more than two hundred books of travel. These texts, together with their earlier manuscript incarnations and their authors' correspondence with Murray, provide an important record of how they were written, how they were edited and adapted for publication, and how the claims they made about distant locals were evaluated and assessed. Focusing specifically on Murray's travellers in post-revolutionary South America, this talk discusses the related issues of observation, inscription, and credibility in an effort to understand the material and epistemic transformations which brought travel narratives from their manuscript beginnings to their final printed form. The focus of this talk is on the epistemological bases to travellers' claims to truth, and how they differently evaluated the significance of direct observation and the oral and textual testimony of third parties in the production of narratives which sought to reveal the newly-independent South America to the British reading public.
2 March 2009
Dr Keith Hughes (American Literature, University of Edinburgh)
Negritude and Blackness: Richard Wright's Africa
The paper will be concerned with developments in Wright's understanding of the
relationship between African and African American culture, and between Africa and America. In particular, I will focus on both fictional and non-fictional works written in Paris, and on the powerful historical narative of African American life, '12 Million Black Voices' (1941).
16 March 2009
Dr Eric White (Newby Trust Postdoctoral Fellow, IASH, University of Edinburgh)
"A Machine of Mirrors": Technology, identity, and print culture in the transatlantic avant-garde
In the early 1920s, writers of the Anglo-American avant-garde pursued experimental approaches to life writing in transatlantic literary magazines such as Broom, Contact, and transition. This paper explores how modernist writers and editors increasingly turned to the trope of technology to explore problems of identity and aesthetic production - especially in their attempts to foster a specifically 'American' literary identity. In both their writing and editing projects, modernists such as Bob Brown, Matthew Josephson, William Carlos Williams, and others examined the transformations that the 'machine age' imparted on geographical and social landscapes. The paper will discuss how the transatlantic avant-garde used the 'nuts and bolts' of print culture to form an integral part of their aesthetic experiments to challenge how texts and identities were constructed and received.