Friday, 26 April 2013

'Transatlantic Literature in Context' Seminar Series

At Oxford, since the beginning of the year, I have been co-organising a seminar series on 'Transatlantic Literature in Context'. It's been going really well - we've had invitees discuss everything from outlaws to Pynchon by way of French translations of 1950s American poetry, and John Berryman's transatlantic influences! Next week we are listening to a talk on 'Paul Muldooon's Clever Mourning', and two weeks later we are being treated to a seminar paper on European emigres and neon lights. It has been a wonderful experience to invite speakers from the UK, Ireland and France to give talks - and we are hoping to extend the talks into next year. Last week, at the British Association of American Studies Conference in Exeter, I tried to promote the series further - so hopefully we shall get a similarly eclectic range of papers for the following academic year!

You can find out more about the series, and access the jazzy (colour) poster - no mean feat for an English academic - by clicking on the link at Oxford's Faculty of English weblearn pages.

Monk's House, Rodmell

A couple of weeks ago, in early April, I visited Monk's House in Rodmell, near Lewes (incidentally one of my favourite towns). The home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf, and the house from which Woolf walked to take her own life in the nearby river in 1941, it seems haunted by their presence. Particularly striking to me was Woolf's bedroom, immaculately preserved, with her complete selection of Shakespeare on the bookshelf. She had painstakingly painted and covered each of these, and written the titles on. I'm not sure I've ever visited a house that felt so haunted by memories. It's also worth a visit to see the writing room in the garden - accompanied by photographs of everyone from Eliot to Forster visiting - and to view the paintings and furniture, all decorated by members of the Bloomsbury Group. It was a wonderful, if slightly chilling, experience - and a visit I'd been planning to make for ages. The picture below is of the beautiful walled garden...