Department of English and Modern Languages Research Seminars

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Who this event is for

  • Everyone

Location

201, JHBB

Details

Networks and Localities Panel with Professor Nicole Pohl and Dr Eric White (Oxford Brookes)

Prof Nicole Pohl, 'Cosmopolitanism and Patriotism in Courland in the eighteenth century.'

I am going to explore the different political and cultural tensions in the Baltic Courland in the eighteenth century particularly following the French Revolution. I will focus on the interplay between cultural and civic markers of national identity in Courland and underscore the role of women in these debates. Although Benedict Anderson has described nationalism as a distinctly homosocial form of male bonding; the nation as a ‘deep, horizontal comradeship’, a fraternity, a passionate brotherhood’, I will show how women were inserting themselves into the project of nation building through sociability and cultural patriotism.

Dr Eric White, 'Readies for Bob Brown's Machine: Reading the Revolution of the Word.'

In 1930 the American modernist impressario Bob Brown built a reading machine that would enable readers ‘see words machine-wise’. He promised that his Reading Machine would revolutionise reading by delivering to readers a radical new way to encounter texts in an integrated package encompassing both a device – the Machine (an early ancestor of the e-book) – and a medium, ‘The Readies’ (a textual analog of the 'talkies' in cinema). Brown's 'readies' project served as a metonym and focal point for a fleeting modernist network that included luminaries such as Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and William Carlos Williams, and a legion of writer-editors in Expatriate Paris of the 1920s-30s. They joined Brown in experimenting with how technology and technicity could modify various categories of identity, such race, gender, sexuality, and nationality by making them multiple, elusive, and resilient, to enhance rather than police dissenting modes of being ‘American’. But was Brown's machine, as he claimed, a viable, working invention? Was it merely a conceptual art stunt, a polemical salvo in transition magazine's 'Revolution of the Word'? Or was it something more?