Explore this Section
|Title:||PhD Student in the School of Humanities (English)|
|Contacting me:||Office Hours: Friday 11.00-12.00|
Arnold Bennett occupies a somewhat anomalous position as an Edwardian realist in a period dominated by modernist aesthetics, and critics of his fiction have tended to adopt an exclusively formalist approach in order to emphasise the experimental nature of his writings and to redeem, perhaps, their value for modernist aesthetics. This tendency is evident in the traditional attention to his realism in the work of Louis Tillier and Walter F. Wright, in John Lucas’s more structuralist but unabashedly evaluative approach, and even in Robert Squillace’s efforts to reclaim Bennett for modernist experimentation and innovation. Bennett’s novels have also received attention as evidence of topographical ‘snapshots’ of the Potteries in their heyday, an ‘old historicist’ approach that uses literature as an index of historical experience, supporting the perception of Bennett as a ‘historian’, whose novels ‘[record] in accurate detail the life of the Potteries’. As such, Bennett’s novels are measured by their contribution to the ‘preservation’ of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scenes which are ‘rapidly disappearing’ (E. J. D. Warrilow, 1996). My thesis will complement a formalist approach with a new historicist and cultural materialist methodology in order to approach Bennett on his own terms – as a writer for whom material culture counts for more than formal aesthetics. By attending to Bennett’s formal choices in the presentation of material space and items, I contend that his novels advance techniques for characterisation in relation to lived environments and reflect on social attitudes to gender, class and both national and international politics; for these reasons, I validate his much-vaunted realism as neither mere slavish homage to nineteenth-century naturalism nor as antiquarian homage to the Five Towns, but rather as a formal choice responding to and helping to shape social changes.
‘Packaged Passengers and Present Fears: Reclaiming Arnold Bennett’s Accident (1929)’, in Arnold Bennett Companion Vol II, ed. by John Shapcott (Staffordshire: Churnet Valley Books, 2017), pp.53-70
Delivered a talk at the Bennett Society’s Spring Meeting, the theme of which was ‘Bennett and the Railway’ (17.02.2018)
Presented a paper: ‘Experimentation with time and the re-visitation of history in Arnold Bennett’s Lord Raingo (1926)’ at The 6th International Congress on Human Sciences, Seville, Spain (09.11.2017-10.11.2017)
Invited to chair a panel (Keynote speaker: Bob Nicholson, ‘Remixing Digital Archives’) at Digital Humanities Conference at Keele (15.09.2017)
Presented a paper: ‘Experimentation with time and the re-visitation of history in Arnold Bennett’s Lord Raingo (1926)’ at The Many Lives of Arnold Bennett: A Celebration, Keele University (02.09.2017)
Presented a paper: ‘Socio-political engagement and formal experimentation: Arnold Bennett, the Great War and the General Strike’ at the New Work in Modernist Studies, Queen Mary University of London (10.12.2016)
Invited to chair a panel (‘Byron and Romantic Identity’) at Byron and the Romantic World: Undergraduate and Postgraduate Conference, Keele and Edge Hill Universities (30.09.2016)
Presented a paper: ‘Packaged passengers and the ‘spirit of the age’: reclaiming Arnold Bennett’s Accident (1929)’ at the Humanities Postgraduate Symposium, Keele University (14.06.2016).
Impact, Outreach, and Social Engagement:
February 2nd 2018:
Outreach Leader for KS3 Outreach Event at Keele University;
Design/implementation of three 45-minute poetry workshops, suitable for year 9 and 10 students.
June 14th 2017 and June 22nd 2016:
Outreach Leader for KS2 Outreach Event at Keele University;
Design/implementation of four 45-minute creative writing activates, suitable for year 4 and 5 pupils.
20th January 2016 - 24th February 2016
Volunteer Reading Facilitator (Poetry) as part of a third-year psychology dissertation project at West End Village, London Road, Stoke (hourly session, held once a week).
3rd July 2015:
Outreach Leader for KS2 Outreach Event at the Excel Academy, Milton Road, Stoke-on-Trent;
Design/implementation of a 45-minute creative writing activity, suitable for year 4 and 5 pupils.
‘Romanticisms’ (September 2014 – January 2015; January – May 2017; January 2018 – May 2018);
‘Victorian Performances’ (January – May 2015; January – May 2016; September 2016 – January 2017; October 2017 – January 2018).