Monday, 21 May 2012

Shandy Hall trip and Thanks

On Friday we held the final Spaces in Theory meeting at Shandy Hall. We began with a tour of the house kindly led by the engaging and knowledgeable Patrick Wildgust, taking in the house's recently discovered sixteenth century wall paintings, the famous bust of Sterne produced by Joseph Nollekens, and Sterne's souvenir china cow (!) Patrick then led us into a discussion of the relationship between Sterne and Elizabeth Draper, the subject of Shandy Hall's current exhibition.

The exhibition puts Sterne and Draper's relationship into context, featuring Sterne's letters and Eliza's forged replies, reproductions of the gifts that passed between the two and artistic responses to their relationship and separation. In addition it introduces the art of eighteenth-century letter writing.

After enjoying the exhibition we then had the privilege of visiting the bedroom created for, but never used by, Eliza. An eerie and emotional space, the room features an installation by Carolyn Thompson which explores the truths and fictions surrounding Sterne and Draper's relationship."Folie a Deux" is an elaborate coverlet created using eighteenth-century techniques and embroidered with copies of Sterne's letters.

There is still time to catch this wonderful exhibition which runs until June 29th.

Finally, we would like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped with and participated in the reading group over the last year; we've had a fantastic time.

- Laurie and Helen.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Readings for Shandy Hall trip (18th May)

We've chosen some short readings to accompany the final Spaces in Theory meeting at Shandy Hall this Friday:
  • Paul Munden, "Obsession", "Grass", and "DIY" in Asterisk*, illus. by Marion Frith (Sheffield: Smith/Doorstop, 2011), pp.14-17; 42-43.
  • Laurence Sterne, Journal to Eliza, ed. by Wilbur Cross (New York: Taylor, 1904).
  • Laurajane Smith, Uses of Heritage (London, Routledge, 2006). Subsection from Chapter 2 ("Heritage as a Cultural Process") entitled "Place", pp.74-80.
For those joining us, here's a brief itinerary:

We'll depart from outside Londis at 1pm, to arrive around 2.30 pm. We'll look around the exhibition in the gallery space then view the installation in Eliza's room in Shandy Hall. After that, we'll have a discussion in the gardens if it's sunny, or perhaps the Old Kitchen, followed by a walk around into the village to see the church, village pub and/or tea rooms. We'll leave around 4.30 pm and return to campus at around 6pm. And a gentle reminder: transport is free but entry to Shandy Hall costs £4.50.

If anybody is not on the mailing list and would like copies of the texts just email us, as usual, at

See you on Friday!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Summary of May's Meeting

On Wednesday Anna Hope guided us through the strange world of 'Bizarro' fiction and Foucault's essay 'Of Other Spaces'. The texts provoked plenty of questions, including: how 'bizarre' really is Bizarro? What kinds of conservative assumptions and messages might actually lurk within the genre? How does the genre- and Carlton Mellick in particular - treat the female body? Do these authors encourage particular reading practices? Can any kind of dialogue be opened up between these authors and theorists or academics?

Foucault's text allowed us to think about the female body in Mellick's The Haunted Vagina as a type of 'heterotopia', which in turn made us ask whether the text positions the female body as a 'deviant' space. It also led us to discuss Foucault's notions of 'real' and 'unreal' spaces, and to ask to what extent the virtual worlds evident in texts such as Mellick's challenge or complement Foucault's thesis.

Thanks to all who attended our penultimate session. On the 18th we will bring 'Spaces in Theory' to a close with our trip to Shandy Hall.