Thursday, September 19, 2013

Witchcraft and The Wicker Man

This Hallowe'en, Professor William Hughes of Bath Spa University will be giving a lecture at Sunderland which provides an eco-critical reading of the 1970s British cult horror movie The Wicker Man. The event, organized by the Department of Culture's Spectral Visions team takes place at 6.00pm on Thursday 31st October in Priestman 118 (the lecture theatre). Admission is free but please book early to avoid disappointment as places are limited. For further details and to reserve your place email

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Colette in Mauritius

Dr Marion Krauthaker-Ringa
Dr Marion Krauthaker-Ringa (Languages), who recently joined Sunderland University from the National University of Ireland (Galway), presented a paper at the International Congress of Francophone Studies in June in Mauritius. She spoke on textual and sexual fluidity in the work of Colette, in a session devoted to homosexuality and identity in French literature.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pynchon and popular music

In August Dr Barry Lewis gave a paper at the International Pynchon Week held at Durham University. Barry spoke about how Thomas Pynchon's engagement with popular music is close to obsessive. He has written liner notes for albums by Spike Jones and Lotion; bands such as Benny Profane and Yoyodyne have raided his works for their names; and he has even provided an Amazon ‘playlist’ for the music mentioned in 'Inherited Vice'. What is less known is the small canon of popular songs that have been inspired by his works. The most famous of these, perhaps, is 'Sailing to Philadelphia', a duet between Mark Knopfler and James Taylor that neatly encapsulates the relationship between Mason and Dixon, the eponymous subjects of a 1997 novel by Pynchon. Knopfler described this song as "my three-minute take on a three-year book". There are many other such transformations from printed word to recorded song, and these were explored in the Durham talk.

Barry will be giving a talk on Pynchon and popular music at the English Research Seminar on Wednesday 4th December 2013.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kavanagh's urban flânerie

Patrick Kavanagh by Patrick Swift (1960)
PhD student Marjan Shokouhi has published an article in the Journal of Franco-Irish Studies on the poet and novelist Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967). Her work examines the ways in which Kavanagh picked his subject matter from the streets of Dublin, capturing memories in the form of poetic sketches like pictures recorded on a photographer’s camera. Marjan offers Kavanagh’s flânerie in Dublin as an example of how poetry can define/redefine our understanding of urban life.

Marjan Shokouhi (2013). "'If you ever go to Dublin town': Kavanagh's urban flânerie and the Irish capital". Journal of Franco-Irish Studies 1(1): 131-142.

Friday, September 06, 2013

History conference for sixth formers

Martin Luther King Jr.
On 11th September the History and Politics team will be welcoming over 120 sixth formers and their teachers from across the North East to a conference entitled 'Politics, Power and Rights'. The conference opens with a keynote address by Professor Clive Webb from Sussex University on British race relations and the American Civil Rights Movement. This is followed by parallel workshop sessions on a variety of topics, led by History and Politics staff, including 'Civil Rights before Brown v. Board of Education' (Dr Kevin Yuill); ''Charitable hatred': toleration after the Reformation' (Dr Delphine Doucet); 'Kings and Queens versus Social History' (Dr Peter Hayes). There will also be sessions on the Great Northern Coalfield 1700-1945 (Dr Stuart Howard), Britain between the two world wars (Dr Keith Wilson), revolutionary 'people' in the nineteenth century (Dr Laura O'Brien), and the second world war as a turning point for Britain (Dr Simon Henig). The closing keynote address, which reconsiders Martin Luther King's civil rights legacy, will be given by Dr Kevin Yuill.

Monday, September 02, 2013

PhD student chairs panel at international conference

Department of Culture PhD student Marjan Shokouhi will be chairing a panel at 'New Crops, Old Fields: (Re)Imagining Irish Folklore', an interdisciplinary conference to be held at Queen's University Belfast (5th-7th September 2013). The panel, entitled 'Re-Imagining Storytelling', is made up of scholars from the USA, Canada and Ireland. Marjan, whose PhD research is on Irish poetry and ecocriticism, is also on the organizing committee of the conference.


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