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 https://fleuron.lib.cam.ac.uk/

“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!


Fran Baker (University of Manchester Library) and Florence Impens (John Rylands Research Institute) ‘A dual perspective on the Archive of Carcanet Press’

These related talks on the archive of Carcanet Press provide a dual perspective in two different ways. One speaker is the archivist who curates the collection, and the other a researcher using it in her work. One paper focuses on the earliest days of the Press and the development of its translation series, based largely on evidence found in archival correspondence; the other discusses a recent project to acquire the email of Carcanet Press with the aim of ensuring that recent and contemporary archival correspondence is preserved for researchers of the future.

Florence Impens, ‘Retracing the Development of a Translation Series through the Archive of Carcanet Press’

Shortly after it was founded in 1969 by Michael Schmidt, Carcanet Press began to develop a translation series, at a time when poetry in translation, notably from Eastern European countries, was rapidly gaining momentum in the United Kingdom. The series was the fruit of a collaboration between Schmidt and Daniel Weissbort, co-founder with Ted Hughes of Modern Poetry in Translation in 1965, and a poet and translator himself.

Their collaboration was brief but intensive: by the end of the 1970s, when Weissbort’s input on the series stopped due to increasing work commitments in the United States, Carcanet had published nearly twenty volumes of poetry in translation, many of which were informed by joint editorial decisions.

Based on archival material, the talk will show how this collaboration was instrumental in shaping Carcanet’s translation series, as well as in the early successes of the Press. It will also provide elements of reflection as to how researchers in contemporary literature can approach archival material to invigorate their work.


Florence Impens is a Research Associate at the John Rylands Research Institute, University of Manchester, where she is working on a history of the publication of poetry in translation in the UK and Ireland after 1962. A specialist of twentieth- and twenty-first-century British and Irish poetry, she received her Ph.D from Trinity College, Dublin in 2013, and has since also held a NEH Keough Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame.

Fran Baker, ‘Emails to an Editor: Preserving the Digital Correspondence of Carcanet Press’

The Archive of Carcanet Press is one of the most significant modern collections held by The University of Manchester Library, and the correspondence in the archive provides a rich and unique source for researchers working in a range of disciplines.

However, since the late 1990s, the quantity of hard copy correspondence in this living archive has been steadily diminishing. Most correspondence is now conducted by email, often including textually significant manuscripts and proofs exchanged as attachments. This digital archive was residing on hard drives and local networks at the Carcanet office, increasingly at risk of obsolescence.

This talk will provide a case study of the Carcanet Press Email Preservation Project, which tackled the acquisition and preservation of 215,000 emails and 65,000 attachments. As well as raising both curatorial challenges and opportunities, email also poses interesting questions about the future of literary research: what will editions of literary correspondence look like? How has email changed the way in which writers communicate? Is the value of a digital literary archive diminished by the fact that it is so easy to duplicate? Can meaningful research be carried out using quantitative data (like visualisations) rather than having access to the full content of correspondence?


Fran Baker is an archivist at The University of Manchester Library, with responsibility for literary, social/political history, and born-digital archives. She has an MA in Archive Administration and an MPhil in English Literature which focused on textual scholarship. She was a co-founder of the Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts.

Monday 7th March (week 9) 1-2.15pm, HBS G03

All welcome!


Richard Bates (University of Nottingham), ‘How does one become a parenting guru? Exploring the childhood and archives of a French child-rearing authority, Françoise Dolto’.

Since the 1970s, millions of French children have been reared following the ideas and advice of Françoise Dolto (1908-1988), a psychoanalyst who rose to prominence on French state radio in 1976. Dolto presented herself as a radical advocate of children’s autonomy and liberal education, in opposition to a supposedly-dominant authoritarian approach.

This paper looks at how Dolto’s later career and attitudes were shaped by her childhood and adolescence in the interwar French bourgeoisie, and her encounters with the ‘Victorian’ values of the social and medical elite of that period. It will compare her experiences to those of others including her close French contemporary Simone de Beauvoir, and her American counterpart, Benjamin Spock. It will draw on correspondence, archival evidence and sociological studies to nuance, and sometimes undermine, the narratives put forward Dolto’s carefully-framed memoirs. This raises broader questions about the role of archival fragments in the creation and challenging of personal and collective myths.

Monday 22nd February (week 7) URS 2s26, 1.10 pm

All welcome!


Judith Watts (Reading, English) ‘Making Love: reading for pleasure and publishing for profit’

The household name of Mills & Boon invites a wry smile. It can also provoke a heartfelt defence from romance scholars and genre addicts, or equally passionate criticism from feminists and literary critics. Research into the company’s archive shows how the both the brand and romance genre developed, and their impact on publishing, authors and readers.

“No more doubts! No more disappointments!”

The romance made by Mills & Boon was crafted as mainstream entertainment and the company was one of the first in the industry to develop a relationship with the reader.  The correspondence offers a fascinating insight into how the firm constantly balanced the weight of plots and the measured out the desires of characters and authors to produce a profitable reading experience. Despite their conservative reputation, the company understood the value of the emerging categories that catered to changing tastes, and were innovative in adapting to the changing supply chain.  In this seminar Judith Watts explores some of the heavy work that went into maintaining light fiction and ‘Romances That Fill The Till’.

Monday 8th February, 6-7pm, Special collections, Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), Redlands Road.

All welcome!

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