On the 28th February, JEC’s Narrative Research Group was host to not one but two speakers; Dr Hywel Dix (Principal Academic in English, BU), and Dr Tom Masters (Lecturer in English & Communication, BU).
In the first half of the session, Hywel presented a short overview of his most recent publication, The Late-Career Novelist: Career Construction Theory, Authors and Autofiction (Bloomsbury, 2017). As Hywel explained, the book explores the ways in which bestselling contemporary novelists look back and respond to their earlier successes in their subsequent writings. Exploring the work of major novelists such as Angela Carter, V.S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, A.S. Byatt and Graham Swift, the book considers the self-reflexive process by which these writers ‘write back’ to their earlier works, as well as address their public personas and status as significant contemporary writers. Further, in its approach to these writers and their work, the book draws for the first time on social psychology and career construction theory in an interdisciplinary examination of how the dynamics of a literary career play out in the fictional worlds of these novelists.
Following Hywel’s presentation and discussion amongst the group, Tom Masters then gave a recital of a number of his poems, followed by discussion of their themes and imagery. At the centre of Tom’s performance was a work in progress that he is writing as part of the bicentenary celebrations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818). Drawing on a range of influences, including Joseph Wright’s 1768 painting An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, and Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare (1781), the poem explores the conjoined intellectual and artistic contexts of the Enlightenment period, and the resonance of their Gothic overtones. When completed, the poem will be exhibited alongside Shelley’s original manuscript as part of a collection of works commissioned to acknowledge the influence of Shelley’s work. For those of us who have taught and lectured with Tom across units within JEC, it was a pleasure to learn more about his creative work in this forum.
Our next meeting will be Wednesday 21st March when we will welcome Dr Maxine Gee (Lecturer in Sceenwriting, FMC), who will give a talk on her research into science fiction and Anime. A further event in May will see Alexandra Alberda and Stephen Allard, first year PhD researchers in JEC, introduce their respective work on graphic medicine and digital poetics.
The Narrative Research Group and its meetings are open to all (staff and students); if you are interested in joining the group, attending the seminars, or being added to the mailing list then please email its convener, Dr Sam Goodman (email@example.com).