‘Exploring Black British Women’s Theatre’, by Dr Nicola Abram, University of Reading (English Literature), Monday 4th November (week 5)


Nicola’s recent research asks the question: “How have black British women used experimental performance aesthetics to engage with ‘race’ and gender identities?” Pursuing this enquiry has propelled her to various kinds of archives. In this talk she will showcase some findings from large public collections, online digital repositories and individuals’ private holdings. As well as encountering production recordings, playscripts and still images dating back to the 1980s, Nicola has also been confronted with many empty citations, gaps where items should be; her talk will briefly reflect on some of the inequitable preservation processes that produce these silences. By looking back through archives covering three decades of black British women’s theatre, Nicola has identified the continuity of what she terms an ‘intersectional aesthetic’. She will demonstrate this interpretive tool by commenting on the work of post-millennial black British playwright debbie tucker green.

Dr Nicola Abram is based in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. She is currently working on a book developing her research in black British women’s theatre, and is enjoying the opportunity to teach on black British fiction.

(This talk takes place as part of Reading’s Black History Month.)

6pm in Humss Room 301
All welcome!


‘Building an archive of popular fiction 1900 – 1950’, by Dr Erica Brown, Sheffield Hallam University, Monday 21st October (week 3)


‘Building an archive of popular fiction 1900 – 1950: Sheffield Hallam University’s Readerships and Literary Cultures collection.’

Dr Erica Brown

This archive, built through public donation, contains over one thousand novels by over 200 authors. We collect the best-sellers and lending library favourites of their day; those popular authors, such as Gilbert Frankau and Warwick Deeping, that Q. D. Leavis deplored as pandering to the ‘herd’ and ‘touching grossly on fine issues’ (Fiction and the Reading Public, 1932, p. 67).

To fully understand the literary history of the early twentieth century it is vital to remember, preserve and study these novels. In order to facilitate research we have created enhanced catalogue records which contain genre and subject terms, a plot summary, marketing information, and details of references to other books, reading and culture within the novels. This last field is an especially rich resource for the study of cultural hierarchies and intertextuality. The data has been collected with volunteer community readers who also produce book reviews.

This talk will demonstrate how the archive can be used by researchers, reflect on the cataloguing process, and present some of the rich data collected.

Monday 21st October (week 3)
5pm in HumSS Room 301
All welcome!