Thursday 6th Dec (wk 10), 5-6pm Dr Sara Sullum (Milan, British Academy Visiting Fellow, MLES) ‘Reading for translation: Anglo-Italian literary transfer in publishers’ papers’

The importance of publishers’ papers for the study of literary history has been highlighted by several studies over the last decade. In the twentieth century, the “mediation of publishing” became as relevant an institution as literary criticism in the definition of a literary canon, be it domestic, foreign or transnational. The concurrent professionalization of specialized intellectual work based in publishing including professional figures such as literary agents, series editors and consultants (readers and translators) played a key role in the shaping of publishers’ catalogues and their papers therefore represent an invaluable source for studies in the field.

By focusing on Anglo-Italian literary transfer, with specific attention to the novel, my paper will analyse archival evidence – readers’ reports and publishers’ correspondence – to illustrate the ways in which professionals working in literary publishing coined and/or used a set of easily translatable cultural categories to select, evaluate and market fiction produced between the Forties and early Sixties in both United Kingdom and Italy. In particular, I am interested in showing how their particular use of these categories – e.g. “realism” or “neorealism” – can shed new light on the dynamics of literary transfer and reception.

Sara Sullam is Assistant Professor of English Literature at Milan University and British Academy Visiting Fellow at the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies.

G44 Edith Morley, Whiteknights Campus. All welcome!



Thursday 15th November (wk 7), 5-6pm Dr Sophie Heywood (MLES, Reading) ‘The children’s ’68’

This paper presents some of the findings of the project “The Children’s ’68” led by Sophie Heywood, based in the University of Tours InTRu Laboratory, and financed by the STUDIUM/Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellowship programme 2016/17.

The aim was to analyse 1968 as a watershed moment in children’s culture and its related disciplines, following Marwick’s (1998) definition of 1968 as the crystallisation of the cultural revolution of the ‘long sixties’ (c.1958-c.1974). By thinking about children’s culture as a site for artistic and intellectual experimentation, at the centre of ideological activity across disciplinary boundaries and national borders, this project opened up new ways of understanding the 1968 liberation movements and their legacies. Culminating in a series of public events and exhibitions in 2018 for the fiftieth anniversary of 1968, it brought the children’s perspective into scholarly debate and public commemorations.


Dr Daisy Hay: Dinner with Joseph Johnson

Thursday 8th Feb: 5-6pm, Edith Morley G10, Whiteknights campus

Joseph Johnson, Bookseller.

Daisy Hay is the author of Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives and Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance. In this talk she will outline the shape of her current project, a book provisionally entitled Dinner with Joseph Johnson. Joseph Johnson published many of the writers we associate with the early Romantic period, and every week at his dinner table he brought them together, welding them into a shifting community with overlapping passions and preoccupations. In the late eighteenth century the makers of books were the makers of dreams, producing groups who between them created new kinds of literature, new conceptions of creativity, and new national narratives. Dinner with Joseph Johnson will position Johnson at the centre of a group biography whose cast will include Anna Barbauld, Sarah Trimmer, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, William Cowper, Joseph Priestley, Erasmus Darwin, Henry Fuseli, Theophilus Lindsey, William Blake, Thomas Paine, Charlotte Smith and Maria Edgeworth, among others. In her paper Daisy will sketch out some of the creative and technical challenges inherent in shaping a narrative out of this cast list, discuss matters of biographical process, and share some early thoughts about the way in which Johnson’s dealings with his authors reveal the dynamics of the circle he created.

Dr Daisy Hay
Senior Lecturer, English Literature and Archival Studies
University of Exeter
01392 722452

Dr Cathy Clay (English, Nottingham Trent) ‘Rereading the Time and Tide Archive: The Feminist and Cultural Politics of a Modern Magazine’

Thursday 25th January (wk 3), 5-6pm

Edith Morley G10

All welcome 

Time and Tide, the feminist weekly review founded in 1920 by Welsh businesswoman and suffragette Lady Margaret Rhondda, is one of the richest archives for exploring British feminism and women’s writing in the interwar years. During its first decade the periodical was a vocal participant in post-war feminist debates, and regularly carried articles on issues relating to women. It also published poems, stories and other features by leading women writers of the period, from middlebrow authors such as E. M. Delafield to Britain’s best-known female modernist Virginia Woolf. The periodical’s gradual rebranding, however, as a more general-audience, less woman-focused magazine, has been read as an abandonment of its feminism. According to David Doughan and Denise Sanchez, ‘in the 1930s [Time and Tide’s] feminism gradually faded away’ (1987: 45), with the periodical becoming ‘a highly respected political/cultural/literary weekly […] at the cost of divesting itself of any specific feminist commitment’ (Doughan 1987: 268-71).

This paper offers a rereading of Time and Tide that necessitates a more nuanced understanding of its relationship to feminism and to the wider political and cultural landscape of interwar Britain. Based on extensive new archival research conducted for my forthcoming book Time and Tide: the Feminist and Cultural Politics of a Modern Magazine (EUP, 2018), I argue that far from abandoning its feminist commitment Time and Tide extended beyond a narrow definition of feminism as it worked to secure women’s position at the heart of public and political life: a goal entirely consistent with an equalitarian feminist tradition. Through an analysis of Time and Tide’s internal and external marketing strategies, its uses of design and illustration, and strategic staging of voices in its correspondence columns, I show that despite surface appearances feminism remained a central motivating and shaping force on Time and Tide’s editorial policy and content. Establishing itself as the only female-controlled intellectual weekly in the ‘golden age’ of the weekly review, Time and Tide remains a beacon of feminist achievement throughout the interwar years and beyond.

Dr Hazel Wilkinson (JRF, Cambridge) ‘The Digital Life of Decorated Books’

Please join us for the next Archives & Texts seminar: Thursday 1st December, 1-2 in Humss G25, where Dr Hazel Wilkinson (JRF, Cambridge and visiting fellow at the Bodleian) will be introducing the newly launched Fleuron

“The Digital Life of Decorated Books”

Throughout the hand press period the pages of printed books and ephemera were far more elaborately decorated than their modern counterparts. Printers’ ornaments were a staple of the printing house until they fell out of fashion in the late eighteenth century. Hand cut and cast blocks were used alongside ornamental type to decorate title pages, headings, blank spaces, and initial letters. Printers’ ornaments ranged from small, geometric shapes to large and elaborate depictions of landscapes, dramatised scenes, objects, and mythical and exotic creatures. In both literary criticism and art history, printers’ ornaments have fallen through the gap between the categories of “illustration” and “text”. Almost never reproduced in critical editions, their important mediation of the reader’s experience of the text has been all but forgotten, and a treasure trove of miniature works of art and graphic design has been neglected.


In this talk, Hazel Wilkinson will introduce a new online resource called Fleuron, a database of more than 15 million eighteenth-century printers’ ornaments. The talk will include a demonstration of Fleuron, and an explanation of the methodology behind its creation, followed by a discussion of the multi-disciplinary research questions we will be able to ask with Fleuron. The aim of the talk is to show that mass digitisation—often seen as the enemy of print—is creating new ways of creatively re-connecting with the material features of historical books.

Dr Hazel Wilkinson, Junior Research Fellow, Cambridge cxdwgfxwgaav8z7

Jessica Sage (Newcastle, Seven Stories) ‘Edith Morley: Writing the Female Professor’

In 1908, at what was then Reading University College, Edith Morley was appointed as the first female professor in the UK, 37 years after Harriette Cooke achieved the same distinction in the USA and 5 years before Caroline Spurgeon was appointed to the role at King’s College London.  Far from being feted as a landmark decision, Morley’s appointment was met with resistance and calls for retraction and is only now starting to become more widely known.

This paper examines the 1908 letters between Morley and William Childs the principal of Reading at the time, as well as the letters and paperwork regarding Reading’s discussion of demoting Morley in 1912 in preparation for becoming a university.  In doing so it considers the ideas at stake in naming a woman as professor for the first time and the ways in which these identities are produced as conflicting and contradictory.  It also examines Morley’s construction of her career in her memoir Looking Before and After, which was rejected by Allen & Unwin when she first wrote it and has recently been published by Two Rivers Press.  The talk focuses on selfhood and identity and the ways in which constructions of Morley as female, an academic, a writer and a colleague intersect and it considers the implications this has for our thinking about female professors then and now.

Tuesday 3rd May, 1.10pm – 2.30pm, HumSS 181. All welcome!

Morley - young

Professor James Raven (Essex) ‘Compose Yourself: Pages of Laughter in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France’

Professor Raven is a leading figure in many fields and the author of numerous books, his most recent being Bookscape: Geographies of Printing and Publishing in London before 1800 [the Panizzi Lectures 2010] (Chicago and London, 2014); Publishing Business in Eighteenth-Century England (Boydell, 2014); and Lost Mansions: Essays on the Destruction of the Country House(Palgrave Macmillan 2015).

Other of his publications examine social, economic and communications history, historical mapping, approaches to media and literary history, the spatial organisation of knowledge, historical bibliography, and colonial cultural history.

As part of a major long-term project re-examining the spatial history of Enlightenment global networks, he is completing a book on reading and commercialisation, is currently completing research for an OUP history of chancing, gambling and state lotteries; and is launching a major European network project on the historical geographies of communications and social media.

Monday 18th April, 4-5.30pm in Humss 181. All welcome!