Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Upcoming conference registration deadlines

A reminder to all NENC members that registration deadlines for two conferences to be held at Newcastle University are fast aproaching.

This Friday the 25th of May is the deadline to register for Romantic Connections: Networks of Influence 1760-1835, the BARS Early Careers and Postgraduate Conference. Registration details and the final programme can be found here. Several NENC members are speaking, chairing or have been involved in organising this conference, and we hope to see many of you there on the 1st of June.

Friday the 1st of June is also the registration deadline for Taking Liberties: Sex, Pleasure, Coercion (1748-1928), which takes place from the 15th to the 17th of June. Registration and a full programme can be found here. NENC members are speaking at this conference, and it promises to be a great event, so again we encourage everyone to attend.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Transforming Objects: registration open

Registration is now open for ‘Transforming Objects’, a two-day conference at Northumbria University, 28-29 May 2012. Along with two keynote speakers, Dr John Holmes (Reading) and Dr Sarah Haggarty (Newcastle), the conference will host a number of parallel panels across the two days as well as a roundtable discussion on the topic of ‘Single- and Multi-Author Blogging Models in Higher Education’.

Full details are available on the
website, including a programme.

Registration is £15 for postgraduates, and there is an optional conference dinner on the 28th at The Living Room (£30) which includes three courses and drinks.

It would be great to see some of you there!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Calls for papers: a weekly round up

'Nobler Imaginings and Mightier Struggles': Octavia Hill and the Remaking of British Society
Sutton House, London, 27-28 September 2012

In September 2012 an interdisciplinary conference at Sutton House in London will mark the centenary of the death of Octavia Hill. Best known for her housing reform, Hill was also instrumental in founding such diverse present-day institutions as the National Trust, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Army Cadet force, and Family Action (originally the Charity Organisation Society). In a political climate which once again emphasizes the kind of privately-financed social action that Hill applauded, and where the preservation of open space and the provision of homes are again contentious, a re-evaluation of her life and legacy seems particularly timely.

The two-day conference will incorporate talks from invited speakers Gillian Darley, Jane Garnett, Lawrence Goldman, Astrid Swenson, Robert Whelan, and William Whyte. William Whyte will also lead participants round some of the Southwark housing projects established by Hill. To complement these events, submissions are invited for academic papers to make up a day of interdisciplinary panel sessions exploring Hill’s life, work, writings, and legacy; as well as her contemporaries, and the contexts in which she worked.

Topics might include (but are not limited to):

Housing reform: slum clearance and the model dwelling movement
Mapping the slums
‘Professional beggars’ and the Charity Organisation Society
‘Lady visitors’: women in the slums and women’s voluntary work more widely
Social work and the professionalization of relationships with the poor
Conservative feminisms: anti-suffrage and maternal philanthropy
Working-class leisure and the right to open spaces
The Kyrle Society and culture for the poor
The National Trust and the preservation/conservation movement
Hill’s intellectual and social circle (including John Ruskin, Samuel and Henrietta Barnett, and F.D. Maurice)
‘Teaching en-masse’: Octavia Hill and Victorian women writers
The Army Cadet force: its history and influence

Submissions are encouraged from graduate students, early-career academics, and senior academics, from any academic discipline, and from independent scholars. Hill’s influence and interests were extremely wide-ranging and our conference will reflect this diversity. 300-word proposals (for 20-minute papers) carrying a name and institutional affiliation, should be submitted to octaviahill2012@gmail.com by 1 June 2012.

South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA) 2012 Special Session: “Memsahib Memoirs: Women Writing the Raj”
Durham, North Carolina, 9-11 November 2012

Women occupied a unique social space in colonial India. Unlike British men, they did not make political decisions, build roads and bridges, or serve in the army. They were instead expected to manage the household and support their husbands in whatever way was needed to contribute to the maintenance of a smoothly-working imperial project. However, there were many British “memsahibs” who took their observations of empire a step further. Unburdened from the daily political and administrative pressures of running a colony the size of India and having more time to spend at leisure, socializing with other women and encountering Indian natives in the local markets and bazaars, many British women communicated these first-hand observations in a body of literature that has been undervalued by scholars who generally dismiss them as “lady romancers,” while ignoring what their works can tell us about how the British saw themselves and those they colonized.

In keeping with this year’s theme of “Text as Memoir: Tales of Travel, Immigration, and Exile,” this special session examines how these “lady romancers” can also be read as cultural commentators. What do their works tell us about the colonial presence in India? How did their observations of native peoples and landscape differ from traditional male narratives? In what ways do their personal reminiscences complicate the “official” history of the British in India? How can we read their work through the lens of postcolonial theory? Possible topics include subversive elements in Anglo-Indian popular romances, memoirs as cultural/political statements on the British presence in India, women’s travel narratives while journeying across the subcontinent, and housekeeping guides as cultural artifacts. Contributions that highlight the wide-range of women’s writing during the Raj period, from memoirs and personal journals to periodical publications and fictional works, are welcome.

The Convention will be held from 9-11 November 2012, at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center, Research Triangle Park, Durham, NC. By 10 June 2012, please submit paper proposals of no more than 500 words (along with a short bio) to Melissa Makala, University of South Carolina.

Proposers need not be members of SAMLA to submit, but panelists must be members in order to present. More information about the conference can be found here.

Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013
A Conference to Mark the 150th Anniversary of the London Underground, 17-18 January 2013

10 January 2013 will mark the 150th Anniversary of the public opening of the Metropolitan Railway in London. It was the world’s first urban rapid transport system to run partly in subterranean sections. As the precursor of today’s London Underground, it was not only a pioneer of technological and engineering advances, but also instigated new spatial, political, cultural and social realms that are now considered to be synonymous with London and modern urban experiences across the globe.

The Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research, is marking the anniversary by organising a two-day conference dedicated to the history and use of the London Underground.

Taking the construction and opening of the Metropolitan Railway as a departure point, this conference seeks to explore the past, present and future of the London Underground from a variety of perspectives that investigate its histories, geographies, cultures, politics and social characteristics.

While the focus of the conference is on the London Underground, we encourage papers that provide an international comparative perspective.

The call for papers deadline is 13 July 2012. Please send abstracts and an author biography (including institutional affiliation) each of no more than 250 words by Friday 13 July 2012 by email to the Centre for Metropolitan History. Further information about the conference can be found here.

Call for essays: The Eighth Lamp: Ruskin Studies Today

The Eighth Lamp: Ruskin Studies Today (ISSN 2049-3215) invites contributors to submit scholarly papers (8,000-10,000 or 3500-4000 words), ideas for book reviews, exhibition reviews, news and events, titles of publications and projects in progress, and creative work and abstracts related to John Ruskin and related nineteenth-century scholarship. Scholarly papers should be submitted at least six to eight months in advance to allow for the refereeing and revisions process.

The Eighth Lamp is an online and double blind refereed journal published by Rivendale Press, UK. It is led and managed by Dr Anuradha Chatterjee (Founding Editor and Co-Editor), Lecturer in History and Theory in Architecture and Design, University of Tasmania, and Dr Laurence Roussillon-Constanty (Co-Editor), Senior Lecturer in English, Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, France. The journal is also complemented by a ten-strong Editorial Board that provides intellectual and pedagogical support and leadership to the journal. It is part of The Oscholars group of journals edited by David Charles Rose.

The scope of The Eighth Lamp is multidisciplinary and it welcomes submissions related to art, religion, historiography, social criticism, tourism, economics, philosophy, science, architecture, photography, preservation, cinema, and theatre. The Oscholars site has a monthly audience of over 45,000. The journal is circulated to over 100 scholars and academics internationally. The journal is listed in key Victorian studies and nineteenth century literature, culture, and visual studies forums. Previous issues of The Eighth Lamp can be found here.

Please email submissions directly to the editors.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

'A shocking disease': a hypochondria workshop 1700 to the present

Members may be interested in a medical humanities workshop on hypochondria to be held at Northumbria University on 11 May 2012. The aim of the one-day workshop is to consider the origins and development of today’s hypochondria, beginning with its identification in the eighteenth century.

Of particular relevance to NENC members are the first four speakers, all from Northumbria University. Dr Diane Buie will give a paper entitled 'The Medical Diagnosis of Hypochondriacal Illness in the Eighteenth Century', followed by Professor Allan Ingram's paper on 'James Boswell's Hypochondria'. Dr Clare Elliott will talk about Dickens and hypochondria in '“Always complaining and never ill”: Dickens's Hypochondriacs in Sketches by Boz', and towards the end of the long nineteenth century Dr Katherine Baxter will give a paper entitled 'Incurably Foreign: Language and Illness in Joseph Conrad's “Amy Foster”'.

The workshop, which is free, runs from 10.00am to 3.45pm in Room 121, the Lipman Building, Northumbria University. Further information, including a full programme, can be found here.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Crabbe's Tales: registration open

Registration is now open for the 'Crabbe's Tales' conference, to be held at Newcastle University on Friday 13 July. Registration should be made via the conference website by Friday 29 June.

Reviewing Tales (1812) Francis Jeffrey claimed that George Crabbe was ‘upon the whole, the most original writer who has ever come before us’. In marking the bicentenary of its publication, this conference will focus on the telling of stories and the imagining of communities in Crabbe’s nineteenth-century oeuvre including Poems (1807), The Borough (1810), Tales and Tales of the Hall (1819). Its aim is to test Jerome McGann’s claim (in an essay published in 1981) that Crabbe is ‘a writer whose true historical period has yet to arrive.’

The keynote speakers are Professor John Goodridge (Nottingham Trent University), Professor Claire Lamont (Newcastle University) and Professor Fiona Stafford (University of Oxford).

More information can be found on the conference website here.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

On Teaching - Q&A

Kate Katigbak (Durham) and Nicole Bush (Northumbria) share their experience of working as teaching assistants on undergraduate modules, and discuss some of the issues and benefits which they've encountered.

What did you find difficult in your first experience as a teaching assistant, and how did you try to improve this?

Kate: From my very limited experience leading tutorials--in other words, leading discussion groups meant to enhance and enforce lectures--the most important lesson I learned was to come over-prepared, but with very loose expectations about what students will want to talk about. I certainly came in with a few major themes or ideas in mind that I wanted to reinforce, but having the expectation that those things would come up naturally, or in ways that I personally found interesting, had a tendency to backfire with me. There was one instance when I was very certain that everyone would be just as interested in the creation of the novel as a genre as I was, but as it turned out, most people wanted to mostly talk about how Robinson Crusoe was an eminently practical guy. I relied entirely too much on my expectations about how the class would read the novel, and not on being prepared for many different reactions.

Nicole: This was an issue for me, too. My first class was plotted from beginning to end, and although I went in with the best intentions to let discussion take its own twists and turns, I did rely far too much on the lesson plan in front of me. This is a natural reaction, of course, and especially so with the first seminars that you lead, but planning and attempting to cover each important aspect is bound to go wrong as some point!

Kate: This also feeds into the value of being over-prepared in general. It was very useful to have on hand lots of interesting factoids that could maybe inspire further reading, or just greater appreciation for context. The tutorials that I taught this year only last an hour, which meant that I wanted to spend as little time lecturing as possible, and as much time getting the students talking and thinking amongst themselves. Therefore, having long explanations and background information to explicate wasn’t helpful, but having anecdotes to spark discussion or reinforce interest definitely was.

Nicole: Kate’s point here is really important, and one that I’ll certainly try to remember when preparing and teaching future classes myself. As much as there was often lots of highly relevant (and hugely interesting) contextual information that I wanted to share with my first-year class, simply lecturing and feeding the facts just doesn’t work in the classroom environment. This doesn’t mean that you can’t wander off the set path and bring in snippets of great background information, but does mean you have to be careful to make sure your enthusiasm is always underpinned with an awareness of how much context is enough for each particular class.

Kate: I definitely agree with Nicole that context is extremely important but has to be meted out carefully. I think maybe what I’ll do next year is attend a few more of the lectures that go along with my own classes, so that I know exactly how much context the students have already had, and how much I can then aim to include/exclude.

How did you manage the classroom, specifically in instigating and sustaining discussion?

Nicole: Some of the most helpful advice from my teaching mentor concerned dealing with these gaps in the discussion. Their point was that you should let students create their own list. When I thought about the implications of this, it made perfect sense. I came to the seminar with pre-prepared ‘answers’, and so naturally I’m going to try to tease these out of the group through their discussion. While this is fine as a teaching preparation, it’s important to (figuratively) leave this list to the side in the classroom. When discussion breaks, it’s then fine to pause and let the group ‘create their own list’, which they inevitably will: someone will point towards a new topic or raise a question, and in this way the ‘list’ of discussion points is renewed by the group itself, and is only guided by the tutor.

Kate: I like this idea of the students’ own list! That’s definitely an excellent thing to keep in mind, and probably takes some of the pressure off of new teachers, which is appreciated. I find that I’m a very self-conscious teacher. I’m overly aware of when a group runs out of proverbial steam, and I automatically assume that it’s my fault and that I need to fix it by getting things going on the same topic again, for the sake of smoothness. This, I think, is a mistake--if one topic gets exhausted, it’s more okay than I tend to think it is to make an awkward transition into something else entirely. If I’m remembering my undergrad experience correctly, that sort of gear change can be a relief to the group.

How have you had to adapt your skills as a researcher to suit the specific requirements of teaching an undergraduate class?

Kate: I got some really good advice from the professor who observed my last tutorial--he said something to the effect of, have a spectrum of questions to ask, from broad to specific, and dole them out in accordance to how responsive the class is to each of them. It can be great to start out with a broad, ambitious question like, “How did subjectivity inform the narrative?”, but if no one’s going to answer it, then have a particular passage ready to say, “Well, how does the subjectivity of the narrator work here?” When I think about that, I realise that I’m really going to have to re-train a lot of my close reading skills--as a researcher, I read for evidence, I read for passages that specifically speak to an idea that I’m looking for. But when looking for passages that teach, I think it’s probably more useful to find something problematic in the text, or exemplary such that it can speak to the whole of the text at large--something that can really spark debate or evoke something big and not necessarily answer a question, but can begin to illuminate the edges of one.

Nicole: It is certainly a new experience to reread a text in preparation for teaching. Like Kate says, sometimes it can go against our other methods as researchers. Passages or themes we’d usually gloss over in our own reading have to be considered for the spectrum of issues that they could present to a class coming new to a particular text or subject, and this requires a completely different type of engagement. But the two do really compliment each other: my experience as a teaching assistant has altered how I think of the texts that I’ve taught so far, and I’d like to think that my specific area of research as a PhD student has informed my teaching too, and hopefully brought an interesting perspective to the classes I’ve taught.


If anyone else wants to share their teaching experiences, please feel free to do so in the comments!