Research Seminars: Creative and Critical Practice Research Group (CCPRG)
Research Seminar 1: 1pm, Weds, 13 Oct 2021. ‘Crritic!’ The contemporary role of the literary critic and creative writer
'Crrritic!' The contemporary role of the literary critic and creative writer
Wednesday 13 October 2021 at 1pm
- Introduction by Alan Bilton, co-convenor of CCPRG.
- Richard Robinson, co-convenor of CCPRG on the era of the suspicious ‘crritic’ and the limits of critique.
- Francesca Rhydderch on how authors relate to literary criticism.
- Sarah Tanburn, PhD student.
- Audience discussion on questions.
Alan introduces the first meeting of the CCPRG. We will discuss the relationship between creativity and literary criticism which has inspired the founding of this centre. To what extent does one inhibit or inspire the other? Is the relationship productive or adversarial? How useful is critical practice to an author or creative practice to a critic?
Vladimir and Estragon play at trading abuse at each other in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot: ceremonious ape, punctilious pig, moron, vermin, sewer-rat. But the final, triumphant insult is ‘crritic’. Richard will start by discussing challenges, such as by Rita Felski, to the interpretative model of critique which held sway for so long. This is often referred to as a ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ (Paul Ricoeur), and was influenced by an emphasis on the unconscious of the text. Such demystificatory readings attended to what the text does not say, to its gaps, fissures, occlusions and significant silences: in short, its symptoms. Suspicious critique asked less ‘what does this text really mean?’ but rather ‘how did this text come about?’ It sought to disunite – or even ‘deconstruct’ – the aesthetic unity a text may purport to have. But we ask whether there is a way to conduct a more reparative form of reading, in Eve Kosovsky Sedgwick’s term. Can we conceive of an unsuspicious critical practice which is not once again taken in by the text?
The roundtable discussion will prompt further questions which can be thrown open to the audience:
- Creativity and literary criticism: does one inhibit or inspire the other? Is the relationship productive or adversarial? To what extent is it helpful or prohibitive to be aware of critical theory? Are there examples of successful writer-critics?
- Are you a suspicious reader? What are the pros and cons of diagnosing the ideological symptoms of texts, or of not being suspicious enough?
- When have you felt suspicion to be an intellectually enhancing quality and when does it inhibit your critical and affective response to literature and language?
- How do we avoid dull critical writing, and how do we imagine our reader? How useful is critical practice to an author?
Crisis: Climate Crisis and Science Fiction
Wednesday 10 November 2021 at 1pm
Dr Chris Pak asks what creative and critical opportunities literature offers for thinking about climate change, and whether the imagining of fictional worlds and climate-riven futures helps us explore potentially sustainable scenarios.
Owen Bridge discusses how science fiction explores representations of artificial intelligence and consciousness, as well as considering perceptions of environmental impact in the digital age.
Olivia Rix-Taylor speaks about science fiction and the ‘edge of physics’: how does an understanding of theoretical physics challenge traditional notions of realism?
Susanne Rösner explores current technological innovations regarding the climate change crisis, especially in food production and housing, and evaluates the possibility of optimistic future paths.
Wednesday 8 December 2021 at 1pm
Dr Mel Kohlke reflects on neo-Victorian literature as a prominent subfield of historical fiction, from her perspective as a neo-Victorian theorist and founder of the journal Neo-Victorian Studies.
Tamzin Whelan (PhD, Creative Writing) discusses the issue of fidelity to the facts in historical fiction.
Sue Dickson (PhD, Creative Writing) discusses the ways in which fiction can be seen to contribute to the historical record, investigating vexed issues of accuracy and authenticity.
Dr Elaine Canning (Director of the Cultural Institute) reflects on the re-creation of (hi)stories within historical fiction with particular focus on Irish involvement in the Spanish Civil War'.
Dr Anne Lauppe-Dunbar discusses writing a historical thriller, and how historical fiction can relate to other genres and modes of writing.
Horror and the Taboo
Wednesday 9 February 2022 at 1pm
Is the horror genre ideologically conservative, in the sense that it polices the distinction between the normal and the monstrous? Or is it transgressive, in the sense that it self-consciously challenges and subverts accepted ethical positions? Authors and scholars of gothic fiction will reflect on how the critical tension intrinsic to this genre informs their encounter with the unspeakable or unheimlich.
Dr Sarah Gamble will speak about the power of abjection and disgust.
PhD student Vicky Brewster will discuss the horror revival of the twenty first century and the cultural factors underpinning this.
PhD student and author of the short story collection Human Beings, Rachael Llewellyn will explore the eruption of the horrifying among the familiar and every day.
Horror writer and PhD student Ray Cluely will explore the idea of the monstrous as metaphor in horror fiction.
Panel on Adaptations
Wednesday 4 May 2022 at 1pm
Prof Julian Preece will speak about adapting Heinrich Böll for the BFI Classics series on the film The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (Margarethe von Trotta/Volker Schlöndorff, 1975).
Prof David Britton will discuss his BBC radio adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov's The White Guard, set in Kyiv in 1922 with Ukraine in the throes of civil war involving Bolshevik Russia's Red Army, German occupation forces, Ukrainian nationalists and remnant Czarists.
Dr Alexia Bowler will consider Jane Campion's adaptation of Thomas Savage's 1967 novel The Power of the Dog. Alexia will discuss the director Campion as both adapter and (feminist) auteur, and the difficulties of reconciling these arguably discrete categories for women's cinema and individual female directors.
PhD student Seren Walters will speak about Disney's adaptations of popular tales, specifically the process of Disneyfication they undergo, and how these 'Americanised' versions are then rendered into French and German, sometimes the original cultures of their source material.
Panel on Queer Writing
Wednesday 2 November 2022 at 1pm
Guest speaker Nat Reeve (novelist and PhD candidate, Royal Holloway) reflects on the ways queerness has informed their critical and creative practice, from their queer Neo-Victorian fiction to their ‘queer reading’ of Elizabeth Siddal’s work.
Prof Kirsti Bohata will discuss her co-edited collection of short stories, Queer Square Mile.
Dr Roberta Magnani will talk about Amazons, medieval and modern, and will reflect on how queer theory, especially trans theory, facilitates a generative dialogue, a queer touch, between past and present.