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Cultural Studies & Humanities Good News

The latest good news from the School of Cultural Studies & Humanities.

Students in front of School of Cultural Studies & Humanities sign

Secret Life of Objects
On 23 February, Professor Ruth Robbins, with colleagues from the Universities of Leeds, and Huddersfield, and from Leeds City Museums and Art Galleries, held a workshop at Abbey House Museum about a range of the Museum’s holdings and the ways in which their meanings are generated for new generations of viewers. The workshop was part of a research project funded by the University of Huddersfield, aimed at understanding what people want and need to know about museum objects, and what is missing from the ‘official records’. The image below is a daguerreotype – a very specialised form of early photography – which has meanings which are historical, scientific and personal. In preparation for the workshop, all of the researchers involved provided their own responses to this object on the Secret Life of Objects blog. 

Daguerreotype, 1848-9

New Book – American Trickster
Dr Emily Zobel Marshall’s American Trickster: Trauma, Tradition and Brer Rabbit, will be launched in June and published by Rowman and Littlefield. The book will offer readers readers a unique insight into the cultural significance of the Brer Rabbit trickster figure, from his African roots and through to his influence on contemporary culture. Exploring the changing portrayals of the trickster figure through a wealth of cultural forms including folktales, advertising, fiction and films the book scrutinises the profound tensions between the perpetuation of damaging racial stereotypes and the need to keep African-American folk traditions alive. Further information.

Ellen Heaton 
Dr Simon Morgan was invited by Swarthmore Education Institute to give a lecture on Ellen Heaton on 13 February.  Ellen was a 19th century art patron and social reformer who promoted the education of women in Leeds and beyond; she also collected signatures for the 1866 petition in favour of women’s suffrage.  Simon’s lecture explored the extent to which Ellen’s cultural and social activities allowed her to carve a niche for herself in Victorian Leeds, and finished by asking why this strong-minded woman ended up signing the notorious appeal against women’s suffrage in 1885. The lecture took place in Ellen’s former residence on Woodhouse Square, now occupied by Swarthmore Education Institute, and was followed by an interesting discussion.

Outing the Past Conference
Professor Heather Shore attended the Outing the Past conference at Leeds Museum on 7 February. This well-attended day was the first event to be held since Leeds gained its status as an LGBT+ History Month Hub. Heather was part of the organizing committee, with members of Leeds City Council, Leeds Museums and Art Gallery and Yorkshire MESMAC. The conference included contributions from a range of people included BBC Look North’s weatherman, Owain Wyn Evans, Mick Ward who gave his recollections on Aids Activism in 1980’S, Angela Clare from the Calderdale Museum and Emmerdale Actor Ash Palmisciano amongst others. 

Relish Research
Current students Jessica Allen, BA (Hons) Media Communication Cultures and Megan Hussey, BA English and Media have recently pitched their work to Relish Research, a research consultancy company based in Leeds. Following a first-class presentation for their Race, Culture and Media assignment in December 2018, Dr Dan Kilvington facilities a meeting between the students and Relish. Following the pitch Relish have agreed to continue working with them on their project and they have arranged a meeting for them both to pitch their ideas to the Body Shop. This piece of student work shows how something which started as part of an assignment has the potential to gain real world impact.   

Sport in Society
Dr Dan Kilvington has recently had an article published in Sport in Society. The journal article, titled Does English Football Warrant the Rooney Rule: Assessing the Thoughts of British Asian Coaches. The article puts forward empirical work with UEFA B and UEFA A License coaches and questions whether football's newly implemented affirmative action policy has been embraced or rejected by those who are hailed as the potential victors. Read the article. 

Fires and Communities 
Dr Shane Ewen co-organised a workshop at the Maison Française d'Oxford on 20 February on 'Fires and Communities in the Early-Modern and Modern Periods'. The occasion was used to launch the latest in the graphic novel stories for the Forged by Fire project, about the fatal Watson Street lodging house fire in 1905. Read a short report on the day. 

BBC History Magazine
This month's BBC History magazine features Professor Heather Shore writing about the Victorian Underworld. The article challenges the myth of the criminal underworld, which was largely based on popular anxieties about crime exacerbated by the Victorian press and the writings of social investigators. 

Contemporary women’s dystopian and apocalyptic writing
On 20 February, Professor Susan Watkins and Dr Rachel Connor worked with a group of 15-18 year old students from Harrogate Grammar School and two of their teachers for a masterclass on contemporary women’s dystopian and apocalyptic writing. The students began with a campus tour from final year English and Creative Writing student Poppy Stobart. They then settled in for a lecture and seminar-type literary criticism exercise on women’s contribution to the genre of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, based on Susan and Rachel’s research, followed by a creative writing workshop based around Jane Rogers’s novel, The Testament of Jessie Lamb.

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