BA/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship Awards 2019
Southern imagining: a literary history of the far southern hemisphere
Professor Elleke Boehmer
University of Oxford, Professor of World Literature in English, English Faculty
Southern Imagining is a major literary-historical study of southern perception that explores responses to the early legends of the so-called forbidding, far southern hemisphere by its modern writers, including Borges, Coetzee, Orsman, Schreiner, White, and Wright. The project substantially revises postcolonial, transnational, and comparative frameworks to consider the countervailing perspectives that a range of southern writing from 1850, settler and indigenous, offers to northern imaginative norms, including that of the ‘Global South’. The project is the first postcolonial study to consider the field from antipodean viewpoints, plot southern preoccupations in common, and challenge perceptions of the world’s apparently isolated ‘outer margins’. The study expands my comparative research into 19th- and 20th-century southern histories of empire and cross-border connection, to look in greater depth at how southern worlds are often imagined in relation to each other, and how they speak back from marginal positions in interconnected though also distinctive ways.
Traditional and Ancient Animal Husbandry in the Mediterranean
Professor Paul Halstead
University of Sheffield, Professor of Archaeology, Department of Archaeology
An SRF is requested to enable writing of a monograph, based on original ethnographic and oral-historical fieldwork and devoted to analysis of ‘traditional’ animal husbandry and consumption in Mediterranean Europe and their use as analogical sources of insight into ancient precursors in the same region. Modelled on an earlier and well received monograph devoted to similar analysis of traditional and ancient crop production, the study will explore variation in traditional treatment of animals and their products through the life-cycle from birth to slaughter and consumption and then through inter-annual and inter-generational timescales. The concluding chapter will explore the pitfalls and potential of using traditional practice as a guide to the distant past, while preceding chapters will include exemplar applications of traditional analogues to ancient case studies. The fieldwork, on which the monograph will be based, will be complete before the proposed start of the SRF.
Philosophy, philosophizing, and the philosopher in 18th-century Britain
Professor James Harris
University of St Andrews, Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Department of Philosophy
Work that I have done over the past 15 years has convinced me that there are many significant and not yet properly defined differences between philosophy as it was practised in eighteenth-century Britain and philosophy as it is practised now. These differences tend to be ignored in standard history of philosophy, probably because such history tends to be written by philosophers who are disposed to focus on similarities and continuities between the philosophy of the past and the philosophy of the present. I believe that historical investigation is needed to determine what, exactly, philosophy was in Britain in the eighteenth century. What were its goals? Who did it, and why? How was it done? What was its social role? These are the questions that my research is intended to answer.
Literature, Bodies, and Machines: Networks of Improvement, 1780-1840
Professor Jon Mee
University of York, Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies, Department of English and Related Literature
The early period of the British ‘industrial revolution’ usually figures in literary studies, if at all, as the negative pole against which the creativity of romanticism is defined. Equally, key provincial towns such as Manchester are rarely mentioned in romantic-period literary geography. But the physician-poet John Aikin’s Description of the country for Thirty to Forty Miles around Manchester (1795) saw in Manchester the ‘beating heart’ of a new kind of body politic. For Aikin and his peers, ‘genius’ was an attribute equally applicable to the inventions of engineers and poets. My project looks at the region in this period as a ‘transpennine enlightenment’ wherein the appetite for improvement comprised both literary and scientific innovation. Its broadly materialist idea of enlightenment, invested in reforming character through environment, produced a complex dialectic of new forms of discipline, shaped by the machine, and liberal ideas of human emancipation.
The Pains and Pleasures of Interpersonal Self-Consciousness
Professor Lucy O'Brien
University College London, Professor of Philosophy, Philosophy Department
The pains and pleasures of a human life are closely tied to our consciousness of ourselves as the focus of consciousness of others. The project aims to develop an account of interpersonal self-consciousness, and to understand what it is for us to suffer from, or delight in, consciousness of ourselves in the eyes of another. Can we be too self-conscious? Can we be not self-conscious enough? How do we respond to a surfeit or lack?
To give an account of interpersonal self-consciousness is not easy: such self consciousness demands both a doubling of standpoints - me and my observer - and an integrated single intersubjective structure. The project seeks to make sense of what interpersonal self-consciousness is, to show that self-consciousness comes both in degrees, and in kinds, and to understand how human beings relate to, and aim practically to control, their own social self-consciousness.
Early Scottish Uses of European Humanism
Dr Nicola Royan
University of Nottingham, Associate Professor in Older Scots, School of English, Faculty of Arts
The intellectual movement of European humanism, loosely defined as the rediscovery of classical texts from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, had a profound effect on European culture. Scotland was no exception: engagement with reading, writing and translating Latin, and reflecting humanist concerns in vernacular writing, is evident from the late fifteenth century. While there are previous focused studies, there has been no attempt to examine early Scottish humanism as a whole. This study explores the uses of humanism and its particular forms in Scottish literary culture in both Latin and in Scots, from c. 1484 to c.1552, to consider its problematic relationship with Protestantism, and its enabling by print. This study is particularly timely: I am at a point where I can address the breadth of this topic and where the value of European culture to the constituent countries of the United Kingdom is hotly contested.
Wheatcroft's Written Worlds: Non-Elite Writing in Seventeenth-Century England
Professor Susan Wiseman
Birkbeck, University of London, Professor of Seventeenth-Century Literature and Culture, English and Humanities, School of Arts
‘Wheatcroft’s Written Worlds’ asks what work is done by non-elite writing in seventeenth-century England, and what methods can we use to investigate that? In response, it starts from its core archive of the Wheatcroft family and especially texts (and objects) produced by the seventeenth- century provincial writer, tailor, parish clerk, gardener and teacher, Leonard Wheatcroft. It will address both methodological issues of how to approach, recover and integrate non-elite writing and analyse hitherto neglected print and archival resources in Derbyshire and London. Taking non-elite as below upper gentry, non-university educated men and women, it tests the hypotheses that this group of writers were diverse and complexly engaged in culture; that non-elite writing subjects lead us rapidly to issues of concern to wider culture and, therefore, offer not only a productive but an essential set of perspectives to the understanding of wider culture, and that elite and non-elite illuminate one another.