Discourse on Literary Celebrity across Genres

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Click here to see images of the event

12 & 13 March 2015




Case_notes;_Holloway_Sanatorium_Hospital_for_the_Insane_Wellcome_L0028866Click here to read Stevie Marsden’s report on the conference.

How does literary celebrity manifest in different genres? To what extent do authors, and ideas of authorship, translate from one medium to another, and how do the different genres themselves contribute to a growing discourse around individual literary celebrities? In this event we look at a graphic novel, film subtitling techniques and practices in projecting a scientific academic persona to probe issues of authorship surrounding individuality, gender, generation, and originality within a multi-genre context. A practical workshop on using twitter as source material for literary research will sustain further reflection on how academic research can engage with open-ended, non-authoritative genres as part of its own canonizing activities.

Confirmed speakers: Mary Talbot (Author), Carol O’Sullivan (Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies, Bristol), Adrian Wilson (Senior Lecturer in History of Medicine), Christopher Donaldson (Lecturer in Romanticism, Birmingham)


Venue: Lancaster House Hotel conference centre, Green Lane, Lancaster, LA1 4GJ

Thursday 12 March 2015

12.00-13.00 Registration and buffet lunch

13.00-13.15 Rebecca Braun: Welcome and Introduction

13.15-14.15 Mary Talbot. ‘Dotters, Babbos and a Costa: Reflections on Literary Celebrity and Genre Bending’

14.15-15.00 Carol O’Sullivan. ‘Not In My Name?: Attribution of Authorship in Audiovisual Translation’

15.00-15.45 Refreshments and small group discussions

15.45-16.30 Christopher Donaldson. ‘The Lady of the Lakes: Harriet Martineau and Victorian Lake District Tourism’

16.30-17.15 Adrian Wilson. ‘A literary celebrity on celebrity and amnesia: Clive James’

17.15-18.30 Discussion

19.30 Conference dinner in The Lounge

20.30 ‘Off the Page’ in the Private Dining Room

Students from the Institute for Contemporary Arts perform pieces written by students from Lancaster’s Creative Writing programme.

Friday 13 March 2015

9.00-12.30 Workshop

Authors, Celebrity, Distance, and Twitter

With Greg Myers (Department of Linguistics and English Language)

This workshop will discuss some of the techniques used by well-known authors (e.g., @MargaretAtwoodon and @tejucole) to construct and engage with a specific audience on Twitter. It is in three parts:

9:00 – 9:50           Keywords and Retweets: an overview of some stylistic features of authors on Twitter

10:00 – 10:50      Participants use their own laptops, phones, and tablets to complete a structured exercise exploring other authors on Twitter.

11:00 – 11:50      Discussion and feedback on the exercise (with our own list of favourite feeds)

12.30-14.00         Lunch



Dotters, Babbos and a Costa: Reflections on Literary Celebrity and Genre Bending

Mary Talbot

My first graphic novel, Dotter of her Father’s Eyes (co-created with Bryan Talbot), is partly an account of James Joyce’s literary celebrity and its impact on his family, especially his daughter Lucia. It is also a personal memoir, giving an account of my own upbringing as the daughter of a prominent James Joyce scholar. Though established as an author in the scholarly sphere, it was my first attempt at graphic-novel writing. It went on to win the 2012 Costa Biography Award, bestowing a moment in the literary limelight on its creators and providing a platform for launching further projects in the same general field. This talk will reflect on literary celebrity from the twin perspectives of Joycean biography and personal/professional experience. It will also consider the transition from expository genres of research and teaching to narrative genres in the medium of comics.

MTalbotMary Talbot is now a freelance writer, working primarily on woman-centred innovations in the graphic novel format. She previously held academic posts for over twenty-five years, including Reader in Langage and Culture at Sunderland University and most recently Head of Communication, Culture and Media at Nottingham Trent University. Her research and teaching interests have been, broadly, in language, gender and power, particularly in relation to media and consumer culture. Recent academic books include Language and Gender (2nd edition, Polity 2010), Language, Intertextuality and Subjectivity (Lambert 2010) and Media Discourse (Edinburgh University Press 2007). Her first graphic novel Dotter of her Father’s Eyes (with Bryan Talbot; Cape 2012) won the 2012 Costa Biography Award, making it the first British graphic novel to gain a major literary award. Her second Sally Heathcote, Suffragette (with Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot; Cape 2014) brings a strong narrative approach to complex historical material. She is currently working on another historical graphic novel, partially funded by Arts Council England


Not In My Name?: Attribution of Authorship in Audiovisual Translation

Carol O’Sullivan

Attribution of authorship for translators differs greatly between media (print literature, theatre, film) and also between different national and legislative contexts. Subtitlers and dubbing scriptwriters have little visibility; they are often not credited on media products, and they are not named in film reviews. This was not always the case. In the early years of audiovisual translation in the 1930s, it was not unusual for well-known writers to be involved with writing subtitles or dubbing scripts. In some cases, subtitlers were well enough known to be named in the credits or in promotional literature and reviews and to be part of the marketing of the media product. Drawing on Gérard Genette’s concept of the paratext, this presentation looks at some well-known audiovisual translators of the past, including Colette, Mai Harris and Herman Weinberg, and how their authorship was paratextually acknowledged. It goes on to look at the current state of authorship and attribution in audiovisual translation in the UK, the US, and France with reference to the work of, among others, Lenny Borger and Linda Hoaglund.

picture of Carol by bear

Carol O’Sullivan is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Translation Studies in the School of Modern Languages at the University of Bristol. Her research interests include literary translation, translation history, film and audiovisual translation. Her book ‘Translating Popular Film’ was published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2011. Her latest article is available in English and in French translation in the online journal L’Écran Traduit at http://ataa.fr/revue/archives/2028. Email: carol.osullivan@bristol.ac.uk




The Lady of the Lakes: Harriet Martineau and Victorian Lake District Tourism

Christopher Donaldson & Ian Gregory

Harriet Martineau’s writings on the society and scenery of the Lake District exerted a powerful influence on Victorian perceptions of the region. Of all her Lakeland works, however, none was more influential that her Complete Guide to the English Lakes. Frequently revised and reprinted between 1855 and 1885, the Complete Guide helped to establish Martineau as a significant and highly regard Victorian authority on the Lake District. In this talk, we’ll combine historical, geographical, and digital mapping approaches to explore the origins and influence of this book, paying particular attention to how it worked in tandem with Martineau’s other Lakeland writings to promote her own literary celebrity and how – in sharp contrast to the writings of the Lakeland’s chief celebrity, William Wordsworth – it embraced the changes brought to the district by the coming of the railway age.



Christopher Donaldson is Lecturer in Romanticism at the University of Birmingham. His research focuses on the way place mediates the writing and reception of literary works, and on associated phenomena such as literary geography and literary tourism. His current projects include a monograph about Wordsworth’s legacy in later nineteenth-century English and Anglophone literature, and a study of the Lake District writings of the Victorian author and polymath, Harriet Martineau. Alongside these projects, he is also an affiliate of Lancaster University’s Spatial Humanities: Texts, GIS, Place project, and is co-editing an interdisciplinary collection entitled Literary Mapping in the Digital Age for Ashgate’s Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities series.




Ian Gregory is Professor of Digital Humanities in the Department of History at Lancaster University. His research concentrates on the use of geographical information systems (GIS) to study the past, a subject on which he has authored three books and edited a fourth. He is currently PI on the European Research Council-funded Spatial Humanities: Texts, GIS, Places project that is exploring how large bodies of digital texts can be analysed geographically using a combination of approaches from GIS and corpus linguistics. These approaches are being applied to a number of separate study areas including Lake District writing and nineteenth century public health reports.




A literary celebrity on celebrity and amnesia: Clive James

Adrian Wilson

The cultural position that Clive James occupies is interesting in itself, but I shall focus mainly on two of his products which are complementary in their bearings in more ways than one: Fame in the 20th Century, made for television and dealing with celebrity, and Cultural Amnesia, a monster book (over 700 pages) which is concerned with oblivion. The bond that unites them, I shall suggest, is a concern to grapple with serious issues in the public domain, as distinct from the halls of academe. Although the results are by no means without flaws – I shall dwell on some of these, particularly with respect to Cultural Amnesia – I shall propose that their ultimate moral seriousness carries a message that demands attention. My intention, in short, will be to offer criticism by way of homage.

Adrian Wilson (Senior Lecturer in History of Medicine at Leeds), works on the social history of early-modern England, on history of medicine and on philosophy of history, and occasionally dabbles in literary theory. His books Ritual and Conflict (2013) and Ideas and Practices in the History of Medicine 1650-1820 (2014) were both published by Ashgate. He is now developing a project on “The Risks of Childbirth in Historical Perspective”, and working on a monograph on the licensing of midwives by the Church of England.








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