This exciting event organised by the Research Unit, New Routes Old Routes, looks as though it will be of interest to lots our members.
There will be a wine reception, and a chance to contribute your thoughts and ideas for the unit’s programme of public-facing research events for the next academic year. This will be followed by a presentation by our special guest speaker, Prof Lissa Paul of Brock University, Ontario, on the fascinating life of Eliza Fenwick, author, pioneering educator, close friend of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin – and a migrant whose contributions to the cultures of her ‘adopted’ homes have been unjustly overlooked.
For further details and to book a place, please see here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/new-routes-old-roots-looking-forward-looking-back-tickets-25504176679
On May 7th 2016, Nineteenth-Century Studies at ARU welcomed delegates to our inaugural conference, on the theme of The Figure of Christ in the Long Nineteenth Century. Papers covered a wide range of themes, from disability to ecocriticism, and presented a broad and fascinating array of approaches to the topic.
Professor Valerie Purton (Anglia Ruskin) started the day with the first keynote address on ‘Tennyson, Lacan, and the Raising of Lazarus. Her paper explored Lacanian ideas of the self in relation to Tennyson’s work, and the Christological approach to Prince Albert after his death. This provided an excellent set up for the rest of the day, as these themes also flowed into the panel discussions.
Our first panel centred on Christology and Victorian Literature. We heard four very different but nonetheless connected papers. Dr Clare Walker-Gore (Cambridge) discussed disability and illness through a Christological lens in the novels of Charlotte M. Yonge and its opposition to the muscular Christian focus on healing; Dr Jo Carruthers (Lancaster) spoke about fallen women as Christ figures in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, discussing the interplay of ‘passion’ as a human emotion with the ‘Passion’ of Christ. Leanne Walker (University College Dublin) gave a paper on the language of violence and militarisation of Christ, exploring how Christ figures in late nineteenth-century literature draw on Medieval traditions of Christ the warrior. Finally, Dr Mark Knight (Lancaster) presented on the role of Christology in Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol, studying the poem through it New Testament references, and approach to the theological self.
After lunch, our second panel took a more historical turn, focusing on political factions within the nineteenth-century church. Dr Michael Sanders (Manchester) spoke first, exploring Chartist Christology and the notion of practical Christianity and the death of emotional attachment to Christ. Dr Carol Engelhardt Herringer (Wright State) then discussed Jesus’ Judaism in the nineteenth century, analysing the erasure of Jesus’ Jewish identity and what that rejection meant in the context of Anglo-Catholic Eucharist Theology. Dr Ralph Norman (Canterbury Christchurch) then presented on Newman and the absence of Christ in High Church Sermons, analysing the different approaches to Christ’s ascension and how Newman engaged with those. Dr Gareth Atkins (CRASSH) followed this with a discussion of nineteenth-century freethought, focusing on saints and their roles in Victorian theology.
Our second keynote, Professor Chris Rowland (Oxford) moved the discussion into art history, with his paper on Blake, Enoch and the Emergence of the Apocalyptic Christ. Chris discussed the semantics of the term ‘apocalyptic’, and studied Blake’s problematic place in Biblical interpretation with his images of a revolutionary Jesus pronouncing the end of an era of Old Testament law. The paper provided the perfect lead into our final panel of the day, the theme of which was visual representations of Christ figures.
Dr Michael Ledger-Lomas spoke first, analysing the construction of Prince Albert as a Christ figure in Victorian society. He discussed Albert as a Christian soldier in death, looking at several memorial portraits. Dr Naomi Billingsley (independent) followed this with her paper on Blake, studying the images of Christ as an artist in his Biblical watercolours, comparing the principles of Christ’s life with those of Blake’s theory of art. Laura Fox Gill (Sussex) then spoke about the power of passivity and Milton’s influence on the works of both Turner and Melville, looking at the echoes of Paradise Lost. Our last panellist was Dr Andrew Tate (Lancaster) who gave a paper on Holman Hunt’s painting The Light of the World which neatly connected many of the day’s themes: apocalypse, passivity, and the Christological self.
To finish the conference, our third keynote speaker Professor Emma Mason (Warwick) gave a fascinating paper on Christina Rossetti’s Ecological Jesus, engaging with ecocritical theory alongside Rossetti’s theology. Her discussion of a green Christian tradition and ecology as the interconnectedness of things alongside what it meant for the Christian Rossetti to connect with flora was a lively and engaging way to finish the conference, wrapping up several of our themes whilst providing plenty of ideas for stimulating discussions at the following reception and dinner.
Many thanks to all our delegates for all their contributions, and for helping to make a long day such an interesting one! We hope to see many of you again at our next conference.
Unit Member Edwin Marr has started a Youtube channel for all things Bronte! Watch his latest video below, and subscribe to The Bronte Network on Youtube for future updates.
We are delighted to display our new logo, designed for us by Cambridge illustrator ScribbleToons. The logo symbolises the industrial revolution which the long nineteenth century encompasses, as well as our focus on literature and the arts. Thanks, Will!
Look out for the logo around campus at our events.
Victorian Humour at the Seaside – Professor Carolyn Oulton
Last month, Professor Carolyn Oulton gave an interesting and entertaining talk for our unit on ‘Victorian Humour at the Seaside’. If you weren’t able to attend, you can watch a video of the event here. Many thanks to Carolyn for such an enjoyable presentation!
Charlotte Bronte’s Bicentenary Symposium
On April 22nd we hosted a symposium in honour of Charlotte Bronte’s 200th birthday the day before. The event was fun and informal, featuring a round-table discussion of Bronte’s life, works and biographies, Miss Temple’s (delicious!) seed cake; dramatic readings of some of Bronte’s letters and a passage from Jane Eyre. Thank you to all who attended the event and added to the discussions. Some pictures below: