5th November Talk by Edmund Smith – ‘A Literary Introduction to Hegel: dialectical philosophy and the 19th century short story’


On the 5th November from 16:30-17:45 in HEL114, Edmund Smith will be delivering an introductory talk on the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) and the nineteenth-century short story. This lecture will offer a rich groundwork for anyone interested in finding out more about dialectical philosophy, and its impact on nineteenth-century literature.

Edmund Smith is a philosopher working in the Hegelian tradition. His work focuses on the Science of Logic, the Jena Phenomenology, and on the relationship between them. Edmund began working on the Logic in late 2015 after becoming deeply dissatisfied with certain tenets within analytic philosophy of logic. Since then, he has given papers on nature and justification of the presuppositionless beginning of the Logic, as well as on Hegel’s conception of the categories.

Edmund received his undergraduate degree from the London School of Economics, and his MA from the University of Warwick. He hopes to begin his PhD in the second half of 2019.

This lecture is open to all, and we look forward to seeing you there!

Jane Austen: An Afternoon Symposium


We are very excited to announce our next event: an afternoon Jane Austen symposium, taking place on Wednesday 26 April 2017 between 1 and 4pm, in LAB 027 (Cambridge).

Speakers will include Sophie Gilmartin from Royal Holloway, University of London, Mary Joannou (Professor Emerita from Anglia Ruskin University) and unit member Kirsty J. Harris. Come and join us celebrating Austen and her work!

This event is free, but please register if you would like to attend – the registration page is here.

Poster background image: Watercolour of Jane Austen by her sister, Cassandra, 1804, c/o Wikimedia Commons.


Monthly Roundup: February

February’s Events

This month Kirsty J Harris and Steven White gave a joint talk discussing their research and the experience of completing their PhDs. Thanks to all who attended and joined in the stimulating discussion afterwards, and to Cassie Gorman for chairing the event.

Our Middlemarch reading group has begun and is going well! We meet every other Monday in Helmore 115 to discuss a section of Eliot’s novel. See details here if you would like to join us!


Notices and Publications

Our Dean of Studies Martin Hewitt appeared on BBC 1’s Who Do You Think You Are?with Sir Ian McKellen on Wed 25th January. You can watch again here on the BBC iPlayer if you missed it!

Congratulations to unit member Zoe Bennett, whose book, co-written with Christopher Rowland, In a Glass Darkly, was published in January. See here for more information.


Upcoming: March & Beyond

Our seminar series continues with a talk entitled “Pioneer or Copycat? The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine in its European Context” by Marianne Van Remoortel (University of Ghent) today, March 1st, in Helmore 112between 16:00 and 17:00. Refreshments will be served.

Unit member Edwin Marr has organised a bicentenary celebration of Branwell Brontë on March 22nd in LAB 216 between 16:15 and 17:15. This event is a round-table discussion; all are welcome! For more information, please see here.

We are hosting a symposium on Jane Austen on April 26th between 12.00 and 16.00, lunch included. Speakers will include Sophie Gilmartin (Royal Holloway university of London) and Kirsty J. Harris (Anglia Ruskin University). For more information and to book your ticket, see here.

There is still time to put in an abstract for our conference on George Eliot and her Circle, taking place on May 26th! Information can be found here.

And finally, a reminder that our Middlemarch reading group continues every second Monday in Helmore 115 between 17:00 and 18:00. Check dates and reading sections here.

Marianne Van Remoortel: “Pioneer or Copycat? The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine in its European Context.”

On Wednesday 1st March at 4pm, Marianne Van Remoortal (Ghent University) will come and give a talk as part of our seminar series. Her talk is entitled ‘“Pioneer or Copycat? The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine in its European Context.” Do come along! The talk will take place in Helmore 112 and tea, coffee and cookies will be provided.

Marianne is the author of of Lives of the Sonnet, 1787-1895: Genre, Gender and Criticism (Ashgate, 2011) and Women, Work and the Victorian Periodical: Living by the Press (Palgrave 2015).

Next Event: Reading Sexual Advice in the Age of Mass Print: The Sexual Knowledge Business in Victorian Britain

Our next visiting speaker will be Sarah Bull, who will give a guest lecture on Friday 9th December at 5pm in Helmore 223 entitled ‘Reading Sexual Advice in the Age of Mass Print: The Sexual Knowledge Business in Victorian Britain.’

Postgraduate Symposium: Review

On June 21 we held our first Postgraduate Symposium with a guest lecture by Dr Sarah Parker from the University of Loughborough.

The event included papers which spanned a variety of nineteenth-century topics and authors. Our aim was to provide our postgraduate researchers at Anglia Ruskin University with an opportunity to present their work for the first time, or to rehearse a conference paper and receive feedback before taking it to a wider audience, in a relaxed environment. We heard from seven members of the unit in addition to our guest lecture, and enjoyed some stimulating discussion of the papers.

In the first panel ‘Heroics and Sensations’, we explored revisions and reclamations of narratives throughout the nineteenth century. Kirsty Harris spoke about repurposing sacrifice and the sea-monsters of antiquity in Byron’s Don Juan. Shelley Walters gave a paper which reviewed Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s heroines, and Anne-Louise Russell discussed Florence Marryat’s engagement with sensation novels. Questions led to a discussion about transformative narratives, and how nineteenth-century writers adapted established forms and traditions in order to reclaim them to tell and shape their own stories.

Our second panel focused on Victorian women writers, and saw papers from Edwin Marr about ideas of universal salvation in the works of Anne Brontë and Marie Moxon discussing glass-space and identity in Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels. Both papers prompted conversation about the ways in which Brontë and Gaskell deal with identity and the view of the self in their works.

Sarah Parker’s keynote followed, which was a fascinating exploration of the woman’s role as muse in nineteenth-century art and literature. Sarah discussed the figure of the muse as artistic subject rather than object, and used an impressive collection of archive photographs to illustrate her paper. This led to an informative section on ways of working to create impact and outreach in academia, which was useful for postgraduate and early career scholars, as well as interesting to see how Sarah’s engagement with outreach projects had informed some of her work.

We filmed Sarah’s talk, and you can view it by clicking here.

The final panel of the day studied ideas about exploration in Victorian literature. Alison Blair-Underwood gave a paper on James Thompson’s City of Dreadful Night which examined the growth of atheism alongside industrial change in the city. Abderrezaq Ghafsi then spoke about the reception and continued legacy of Charles Dickens in Algeria, focusing especially on his life-narrative accounts. Questions provoked interesting discussion about the forward-looking narratives of both Thompson’s poem in its engagement with insomnia and depression, and Dickens’ works with their continuing global inspiration and relevance.

Many thanks to everyone who was able to attend the Postgraduate Symposium, and to Sarah Parker for giving such a fascinating keynote. It was a really informative and useful event for our postgraduate members, and very enjoyable to hear what so many of us are working on. We hope to run the symposium again next year!

Forthcoming Event

Following next week’s postgraduate symposium, our next event will be a talk by Dr Clare Walker Gore from the University of Cambridge, titled ‘Making the Most of Your
Research: Sharing Your Work, Reaching an Audience and Finding Your Way as
an Early Career Researcher’. Clare is a Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, and has also worked with the BBC as one of their 2015 New Generation Thinkers. Her talk will take place at 3pm on Thursday 7th July in Helmore 208.

And if you’ve not already done so, please register attendance for our postgraduate symposium here!

Postgraduate Symposium

We are very excited about our first postgraduate symposium on June 21st!

Our guest speaker is Dr Sarah Parker from the University of Loughborough, and seven of our members will be giving papers about their research. The event will run from 12 noon until 6:30pm in LAB 309 (Cambridge campus); lunch and refreshments will be served and we will finish with a wine reception.


12-12.30:         Welcome and lunch

12.30-2:           Panel 1: Heroics and Sensations (Chair: Steven White)

Kirsty J. Harris: ‘Sacrifice and Sea Monsters: The Metamorphoses of Shipwreck in Byron’s Don Juan Canto II’

Shelley Walters: ‘Elizabeth Barrett-Browning: Heroines and Heroism in Review’

Anne-Louise Russell: ‘My Own Child (1875-76): Florence Marryat and Sensation Fiction published in London Society’

2-3:                  Panel 2: Brontë & Gaskell (Chair: Lizzie Ludlow)

Edwin Marr: ‘Saved By Fire: Universal Salvation in the works of Anne Brontë’

Marie Moxon: ‘Ways of Seeing: Glass-Space and Identity in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, North and South and Cranford’

3-4:                  Keynote (Chair: Kirsty J. Harris)

Dr Sarah Parker (University of Loughborough)

‘When the Muse Looks Back: Picturing the Poetess’

4-4.30:             Coffee

4.30-5.30:        Panel 3: Victorian Explorations (Chair: Anne-Louise Russell)

Alison Blair-Underwood: ‘Steetwalking, James Thompson, and The City of Dreadful Night

Abderrezaq Ghafsi: Exploring Charles Dickens’s Connectedness and Canonisation through his Algerian Historical and Life-narrative Accounts

5.30-6.30:        Wine reception

Please register here if you will be attending.

Two Recent 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: