English Research Seminars 2020-2021

We are delighted to announce a programme of research seminars by international experts from across the world to be delivered as the English Research Seminars for 2020-2021 at De Montfort University. The seminars will take place online and are free but booking is essential. To book, please send

Your name

Your email address

The title(s) of the seminar(s) you wish to attend

to the seminars' organizer Gabriel Egan <gegan@dmu.ac.uk>. You will get an acknowledgement email, usually within 2 working days of you making your booking. We'll then get back to you approximately 24 hours before the session begins with joining instructions for the MS Teams event. We will hold your name and email address only for the purpose of communicating with you about the seminars for which you have signed up, and will not pass them on to any other people of organisations.

9 December 2020 at 16.00 GMT

Speaker Eckart Voigts (Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany)

EVBiography Dr Eckart Voigts is Professor of English Literature at Technische Universität Braunschweig and was President of the German Society for Theatre and Drama in English from 2010 to 2016. Most recently, he has co-edited with Katja Krebs and Dennis Cutchins the Routledge Companion to Adaptation (2018). Numerous further books and articles include the special issue of Adaptation (volume 6 issue 2, in 2013) on transmedia storytelling, Adaptations: Performing Across Media and Genres (Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2009), Reflecting on Darwin (Ashgate, 2014), Dystopia, Science Fiction, Post-Apocalypse (Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2015), and Transforming Cities (Winter 2018). His Companion to British-Jewish Theatre since the 1950s is forthcoming from Bloomsbury in 2021. Since 2019 he has co-led the project "From Avant-garde to Algorithm: Automated Creativity in Music and Literature" funded by the Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony.

Title "GIGO: Algorithms and Emulations"

Abstract The talk discusses hybrid writing practices which emerge as a consequence of digital coding in electronic media and therefore also transform the materiality of ‘classic’ media. It argues that practices of adaptation have been re-shaped by digital advances that have not been taken into consideration by adaptation studies. The interconnected digital world holds large quantities of available data and it is conceived as an ever-changing space of permanent copy and constant adaptation. It is marked by fluid, textual recombination (e.g., remix, mashup, intermedia trailer, remediation, remake, and fanfiction). The focus in this talk will be on automated writing practices executed through artificial neural networks or deep-learning applications that algorithmically recognize and imitate writing patterns as further typical manifestations of aesthetic practices in an information-rich society. It assesses these algorithmic writing practices as digital art, in relation to modernist, surrealist, and Dadaist avant-garde experimentation with automated writing. In addition, the essay raises the question of the present role and function of adaptation as a genre, and adaptations as texts, as quite separate from adapting as a human cultural technique (Kulturtechnik) in the context of newly defined modalities and cultural literacies. Advocating a wide notion of adaptation, the contribution launches a definition of posthuman adaptation that applies Actor-Network Theory to adaptation studies.

13 January 2021 15.00 GMT

Speaker Ayanna Thompson (Arizona State University)

Biography ATAyanna Thompson is director of the Arizona Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies at Arizona State University. She is the author of Shakespeare in the Theatre: Peter Sellars (Arden Bloomsbury, 2018), Teaching Shakespeare with Purpose: A Student-Centred Approach (Arden Bloomsbury, 2016), Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America (Oxford University Press, 2011), and Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (Routledge, 2008). She wrote the new introduction for the revised Arden3 Othello and is currently working on a collection of essays for Cambridge University Press on Shakespeare and race, while collaborating with Curtis Perry for a new edition of Titus Andronicus.

Title "On Protean Acting in Shakespeare: Race & Virtuosity"

Abstract From the early modern period, actors have been praised for being "protean" when they perform cross-racial impersonations. This talk will think through that legacy and how virtuosity in acting is implicitly and explicitly racialized.

27 January 2021 17.00 GMT

Speaker Tom Leitch (University of Delaware)

Biography TLThomas Leitch is an expert on the work of director Alfred Hitchcock and has written books including The Encyclopedia of Alfred Hitchcock, Find the Director and Other Hitchcock Games and the forthcoming A Companion to Hitchcock Studies. He also serves on the editorial board of the journal Hitchcock Annual and directs the University of Delaware's Film Studies program, where he also teaches classes on theories of storytelling (narrative theory).

Title "Adaptation in Penny Dreadful and Everywhere Else"

Abstract Textual adaptation has long been defined by series of analogies to activities and practices as varied as religious incarnation, political imperialism, and biological reproduction, regeneration, and mutation. This presentation proposes still another definition of adaptation through analogy by suggesting that adaptation is a medium. On the face of it, this is a counter-intuitive, even outrageous, claim, since adaptation is widely agreed to be an intermedial or transmedial practice--that is, a process of transposing texts in an established medium like literature, cinema, painting, opera, ballet, videogames, comic books, or online avatars into another medium. Using the figure of Madame Kali, the medium who produces such a sensation during the séance she conducts in the television miniseries Penny Dreadful, as a model, this presentation considers the costs and benefits of defining adaptation as a medium like Madame Kali and other mediums, fictional and actual: a figure or affordance that allows the dead to speak by possessing the medium or other figures in the medium’s circle. After considering the power of different relations between mediums, their earthly clients, and their spirits whose voices they purport to channel, to illuminate the nature of adaptation, it concludes by asking how we might think differently about adaptation, about established media, and about identity if we considered adaptation as a medium.

10 February 2021 16.00 GMT

Speaker Alexa Alice Joubin (George Washington University)

Biography AAJAlexa Alice Joubin is Professor of English, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, International Affairs, Theatre, and East Asian Languages and Literatures at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she co-founded the Digital Humanities Institute. Her latest books include Shakespeare and East Asia (Oxford University Press, 2021); Race co-authored with Martin Orkin (Routledge’s New Critical Idiom, 2019); Local and Global Myths in Shakespearean Performance co-edited with Aneta Mancewicz (2018); and Shakespeare and the Ethics of Appropriation co-edited with Elizabeth Rivlin (2014).

Title "Performing Transgender Shakespeare"

Abstract This presentation reclaims as trans the Shakespeare films that have been misinterpreted as homosexual. This reclamation builds a longer, intersectional history of gendered embodiment that allows early modern ideas about gender variance to attenuate our contemporary biases against trans bodies. These hitherto neglected trans films are read through the lenses of affective labor and social reparation to explore two key questions: what constitutes trans narratives in early modern and modern periods, and how do trans films about Shakespeare carry out affective labor and inform our sense of transgender history? Case studies may include Shakespeare in Love, Stage Beauty, and other films about theatre making. Audiences tend to regard transgender embodiment as socially reparative when the characters’ circumstances are ameliorated or when the characters are scripted to conform to the normative society’s expectations. Trans films have been deployed to both ends, but only the first strand empowers trans communities. This paper critiques the current filmmaking practices that have bifurcated historical trans individuals’ lived realities into the two reparative modes. By revealing the ways in which trans identities are accepted and the limits to that acceptance, the presentation gives readers the tools to contest their own marginalization by building more capacious theories to elucidate not only performance histories of sexual transformation, but also less explicit representations of trans life.

17 February 2021 January 14.00 GMT

Speaker Paul Franssen (University of Utrecht)

Biography PFPaul Franssen is Assistant Professor of English Literature at the University of Utrecht. In education and research he mainly deals with English literature from the Renaissance, including Shakespeare. He also focuses on individual authors such as Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde and pays special attention to South African literature. Franssen is treasurer of the Shakespeare Society and editor of Folio, the society's magazine.

Title "Shakespeare and Son"

Abstract The putative lives of Shakespeare and his family are often appropriated by modern fiction writers to tell the kinds of stories that speak to modern concerns and sensibilities. In modern fictions, such as the recent Branagh film All is True (2018), Shakespeare's son Hamnet, who died at 11, often symbolises the guilt of absent fathers who are obsessed with their careers. In this talk, Franssen will discuss Maggie O'Farrell's 2020 novel Hamnet as an exponent of Shakespearean biofiction in general, and in light of this tradition of representations of Hamnet in particular.

23 April 2021 16.00 GMT

Speaker Gabriel Egan (De Montfort University)

Biography GEGabriel Egan is Director of the English Research Institute and the Centre for Textual Studies at De Montfort University. He is a General Editor of the New Oxford Shakespeare edition (six volumes, 2016-2022) and co-editor of the journals Shakespeare and Theatre Notebook. His recent research has been in field of computational analysis of Shakespeare's writing. He teaches letterpress printing and the writing of computer software for the analysis of literary and historical texts.

Title "Collaboration in Shakespeare"

Abstract Unlike a novelist, Shakespeare could not have done much of what he did on his own. Theatre is inherently a collaborative art. Shakespeare chose to collaborate even more extensively than the art of theatre required, however, in that he also co-write some of his plays, which not all of his contemporaries did. The investigations that will form the basis of this talk are ongoing, but it is hoped to reveal new evidence for hitherto undetected co-authorship in Shakespeare's writing of plays.