Embodying Literary Celebrity in Multiple Media




How have authors – as opposed to their works – been canonized or otherwise written into the cultural fabric of society from the late eighteenth century to today? Our research papers look at cultural phenomena as diverse as stately architecture, literary frontispieces, and silent film in an attempt to understand how authors’ physical bodies are popularly related to their literary corpus, and how both are made tangible for posterity. Our collaborative workshop brings together published authors, literary mediators and academics embedded in the creative sector to explore the challenge of being a contemporary author in different social and media environments. We also have a special session planned to help early career academics develop and critique creative interdisciplinary research ideas within literary studies.

See here for an overview of our inaugural event, with participants, photographs and the first publication.

See below for details of papers and speakers.

Programme, 18 & 19 September 2014

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

18 September 2014

Multimedia Embodiments of Literary Celebrity in the Long Nineteenth Century

13:00 Registration – buffet lunch available

13:45 Welcome and introduction to the project

14:00 Tom Mole: Scott in Stone, Byron in Bronze

14:45 Jessica Goodman: ‘La gloire, l’ornement et les bienfaiteurs de la France’: Celebrating the Man of Letters in Late Eighteenth-Century Dialogues of the Dead

15:30 Refreshments

16:00 Kamilla Elliott: Intersemiotic and Intermedial Representations of British Literary Authors in the Long Nineteenth Century

16:45 Andrew Piper: The Werther Effect: Topologies of Literary Fame

17:45 Open discussion

19:00 Dinner

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

19 September 2014

The Creative Researcher: New Interdisciplinary Approaches within Literary Studies

With Charles Forsdick, Tom Mole, and Andrew Piper

9:30-13:00: In the first part of this session we will explore what ‘interdisciplinarity’, ‘literary studies’ and ‘digital humanities’ mean within the contemporary research landscape. In the second part of the session, we will examine case studies of successful and unsuccessful bids that broadly fall under the remit of literary studies, as well as considering how to deal with unexpected or unwanted outcomes that can accompany out-of-the-box thinking. Participants should also expect to discuss their own research plans, and are warmly invited to bring a 150 word abstract for a creative research project for which they would like to receive feedback within a supportive environment.


13:00-14:30 Buffet lunch and networking


Managing the Media: ‘Making it’ as an Author in the UK

 14:30-17:30 Industry-led round table and workshop open to all

With Jenn Ashworth (author and Lecturer in Creative Writing), Carol Birch (author), Andy Darby (former artistic director of Lancaster Litfest), Katy Guest (literary editor, The Independent on Sunday), Jim Hinks (editor, Comma Press), Karen Leeder (translator, poet, and Professor in German Literature) 

This afternoon session begins with a round table featuring published literary authors, mediators within the creative sector, and academic-translators. Speakers will share their insights into the role of the author’s biographical person within the literary industry, as well as debate the nature of the industry processes that lie behind the discovery and promotion of new literary talent. In the second part of the afternoon, audience participants will work together to reflect on what ‘making it’ and ‘being an author’ mean in different media and institutional contexts.





Andrew Piper: Keynote, The Werther Effect: Topologies of Literary Fame 

This talk will present the use of network models to study the transnational circulation of the eighteenth-century best-seller, The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774/1787). With the steep rise of printed writing in the eighteenth century, epistolary novels like Goethe’s Werther, Richardson’s Pamela, or Rousseau’s Julie became landmarks of the new vibrancy of the publishing industry, one that was increasingly transnationally oriented. As fictional networks of texts, epistolary novels came to stand for a new culture of literary connectivity and authorial celebrity.

While there has been a great deal of bibliographic research on the host of adaptations that arose from such publishing events, we still lack a clear understanding of the extent to which the language of these works fanned out to influence writing across national boundaries. Using a corpus of roughly 45,000 texts across three different languages, this talk will explore how network models can give us insights into the ways works like Werther and authors like Goethe could circulate in broader contexts and facilitate the groupings of new literary communities. What can such models of spatial relationality tell us about the “work” of authorship across cultures?


Authors_Piper_thumbAndrew Piper is Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at McGill University. His work explores the application of computational approaches to the study of literature and culture with a particular emphasis on network theory and questions of transtextuality. He directs the Digging into Data Project, “Global Currents: Cultures of Literary Networks, 1050-1900,” and the multinational partnership grant, “NovelTM: Text Mining the Novel,” which brings together 21 partners across North America and Europe. He is the author most recently of Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times (Chicago 2012) as well as Dreaming in Books: The Making of the Bibliographic Imagination in the Romantic Age (Chicago 2009), which was awarded the MLA Prize for a First Book and honourable mention for the Harry Levin Prize for the American Comparative Literature Association.  http://www.mcgill.ca/german/faculty/piper


Kamilla Elliott: Intersemiotic and intermedial representations of British literary authors in the long nineteenth century

This paper examines some of the dynamics between verbal and pictorial representations of literary authors in the long nineteenth century across a range of media and discourses, from conflations of author names and works (as in the rhetoric of ‘reading Dickens’) to changing practices in which frontispieces of authors displaced frontispieces of characters in illustrated fiction, to early film adaptations of literary texts where dead authors are rendered undead by live actors to authorise the new medium.


Kamilla Elliott’s principal research interests lie in British and American literature’s relations with other media. Both of her monographs, Rethinking the Novel/Film Debate (Cambridge University Press, hardback 2003; paperback 2009) and Portraiture and British Gothic Fiction: The Rise of Picture Identification, 1764-1835 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), engage intermedial representations of authorship, a subject that she has also explored in essays entitled, ‘Screened Writers’ and ‘Postmodern Screened Writers’, published in two edited collections in 2013. http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fass/english/profiles/kamilla-Elliott


Charles Forsdick is James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool and AHRC Theme Leadership Fellow for ‘Translating Cultures’. He has published on travel writing, colonial history, postcolonial literature and the cultures of slavery. His publications include Victor Segalen and the Aesthetics of Diversity (Oxford University Press, 2000), Travel in Twentieth-Century French and Francophone Cultures (Oxford University Press, 2005) and Ella Maillart, ‘Oasis interdites’ (Zoé, 2008). His most recently (co-)edited volumes include Transnational French Studies: Postcolonialism and Littérature-monde (Liverpool University Press, 2010), Travel Writing: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies (Routledge, 2012), Ethics on the Move: Travel Writing and Cross-Cultural Encounter (Routledge, 2013), and the forthcoming Black Jacobins Reader (Duke University Press). He was Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery (2010-13) and President of the Society for French Studies (2012-14). http://www.liv.ac.uk/cultures-languages-and-area-studies/staff/charles-forsdick/


Jessica Goodman:  ‘La gloire, l’ornement et les bienfaiteurs de la France’: celebrating the man of letters in late eighteenth-century dialogues of the dead

Eighteenth-century France had a particular interest in identifying and celebrating its ‘grands hommes’, the model individuals through whom it defined its national identity. This process came to a head with the creation of the Pantheon (1791), the vast stone monument that gathered together the glorious dead in a secular temple. The first three occupants were Mirabeau, Voltaire and Rousseau: all, to a greater or lesser extent, writers.

That same year, the three appeared together in fictional form in another commemorative vehicle, the play Mirabeau aux Champs Elysées, which dramatised Mirabeau’s arrival in the afterlife and his meetings with illustrious ghosts. This play was one of hundreds of dialogues of the dead written across early modern Europe, ranging from minor anonymous pamphlets to major collections. The genre peaked in France around the Revolution: the precise moment at which the country was redefining itself and its heroes.

This paper considers the author as ‘grand homme’ in this period by tracing the presence of Voltaire and Rousseau in a handful of these late eighteenth-century dialogues. I analyse the presentation of these authors, and how this presentation relates both to the image they created in life and to their presence in mainstream commemorative media. But I also consider the broader role of authors in this genre: how these dialogues’ creators use their predecessors to shape their own literary status, and how these textual re-imaginings of the dead inevitably encourage reflexion on the legacy possible through the written world.


Authors_Goodman_thumbJessica Goodman is a Junior Research Fellow in French at Clare College, Cambridge, where she also teaches early modern French literature. She was awarded her doctorate by the University of Oxford in 2013 for a thesis on Carlo Goldoni’s authorial self-fashioning in France. She is now turning the thesis into a book, and has also published a number of articles on Goldoni and the Comédie-Italienne. Her new project, entitled ‘Literary Monuments’, studies the genre of ‘dialogues of the dead’ in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century France, with a particular interest in the posthumous image of the author.  http://www.jessicagoodman.co.uk


Tom Mole: Scott in Stone, Byron in Bronze

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Britain was in the grip of a protracted and contentious debate about who constituted the nation and what they shared. As successive Reform Acts more than doubled the electorate, many were concerned about how to build a new sense of cultural consensus. One way to do this was to create a pantheon of great men (and some women) from the past, in an effort to model and promote forms of cultural consensus for the present. A shared set of heroes would provide examples of civic virtue and artistic achievement for emulation. The new pantheon took shape in prominent buildings such as Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral, but it soon spread across the rapidly redeveloped cities of London and Edinburgh, and then across the nation as a whole. In this paper, I will examine how new statues of two writers: Lord Byron (1788-1824) and Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) were positioned in the emerging pantheon. I will show how their inclusion in the new pantheon gave material existence, in the present, to the past shared by the newly-enfranchised subjects of the Reformed nation.


Mole Mug ShotTom Mole is Reader in English Literature and Director of the Centre for the History of the Book at the University of Edinburgh, and an Adjunct Professor of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at McGill University.  He is the author of Byron’s Romantic Celebrity (2007) and the editor of Romanticism and Celebrity Culture (2009) and (with Michelle Levy) the Broadview Reader in Book History (2014).  He led the Interacting with Print research group from 2008-2013 and won the International Byron Society’s Elma Dangerfield Prize in 2009.  He is currently researching the reception of Romantic writing in Victorian Britain. www.tommole.org




More Posts in Events


Share this Post


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



I am not a robot *