Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review of "We Modern People" by Anindita Banerjee

My review of Anindita Banerjee's We Modern People appears in the latest issue of Literature and History (23:1). It's an interesting book so read the review here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Writing the Moscow Trials: Anglo-Soviet Debates about Jurisprudence

I'll be giving a paper at this conference on Saturday 24 May 2014:

British–Soviet Friendship and Cultural Exchange: promotion, partnership and propaganda 

This interdisciplinary conference will look at the scope and nature of Soviet culture disseminated in Britain and significance of cultural relations with the USSR in Britain. It will ask what mechanisms of cultural exchange existed, how Soviet culture was presented to the British public and specialists, and what influence these relations exerted on British writers, creative artists and professionals in fields as diverse as law, music and architecture. It will examine the intersection of this subject with related fields and the methodological challenges associated with approaching literature and culture in a highly politicized context.

The event will be held at the Society for Co-operation in Russian and Soviet Studies, 320 Brixton Road, London  SW9 6AB.

The Programme is available to download.

The cost, including refreshments, is £20.  Please book via the online store here.

This event is sponsored by BASEES

Here's a brief summary of what I'll be talking about:

Writing the Moscow Trials: Anglo-Soviet Debates about Jurisprudence

This paper explores British debates about the Soviet legal system, particularly in relation to the show trials of the 1930s, and with a focus on Stephen Spender, Harold Laski and D.N. Pritt. D.N. Pritt—a lawyer, Labour MP, prominent fellow traveller and president of the SCR in the 1940s—had a longstanding interest in Soviet justice and witnessed the Zinoviev-Kamenev trial in 1936. Publications including ‘The Russian Legal System’ (1933), The Zinoviev Trial (1936), and The Moscow Trial Was Fair (1936) document Pritt’s attempts to make an accommodation between bourgeois legal norms and both the theory and the reality of Soviet law. Harold Laski made similar arguments in Law and Justice in Soviet Russia (1935), and also lectured on this subject at the SCR. This paper seeks to situate these arguments in relation to Marxist theories of justice on the one hand (elaborated in the Soviet Union by Pashukanis and others) and the work of British writers, using Stephen Spender as a case study. Spender’s brief membership of the Communist Party coincided with some high-profile show trials, and concerns about justice and law emerged in his later autobiographical writing as a key justification for his turn towards anticommunism.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

G.K. Chesterton, London and Modernity

A new volume of essays, G.K. Chesterton, London and Modernity, edited by Matthew Beaumont and Matthew Ingleby, has been published by Bloomsbury Academic. It includes an essay by me called 'Distributism and the City', and lots of other fascinating stuff.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mimesis Annotated

Erich Auerbach's Mimesis is one of the great works of literary criticism of the twentieth century, and yet students are put off by the many untranslated quotations from Latin, Medieval Italian, Medieval French, Modern French, Spanish and German. I teach this book to first year students at UEA who are understandably daunted by the demands it seems to make on its readers.

I have decided to create a free online resource, which will be located here: http://mimesisannotated.blogspot.co.uk/ (an empty shell at the moment). This resource aims in the first instance simply to supply annotations containing literal English translations of all the untranslated material in Willard R. Trask's otherwise excellent text. The initial aim is to provide students and readers not conversant in Auerbach's many languages with the basic information they need to read the text.

If you would like to contribute to this project--for instance if you are teaching a chapter of Auerbach's book and would be interested in providing annotations to that chapter--I would love to hear from you. Please contact me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Russia in Britain: Panel Discussion at Pushkin House, 4/11/13

Join us for a roundtable discussion with the editors of and contributors to a new collection of essays, Russia in Britain, 1880-1940: From Melodrama to Modernism (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Russia in Britain offers the first comprehensive account of the breadth and depth of the British fascination with Russian and Soviet culture, tracing its transformative effect on British intellectual life from the 1880s, the decade which saw the first sustained interest in Russian literature, to 1940, the eve of the Soviet Union’s entry into the Second World War.

By focusing on the role played by institutions, disciplines and groups—libraries, periodicals, government agencies, concert halls, publishing houses, theatres, and film societies—this collection marks an important departure from standard literary critical narratives, which have tended to highlight the role of a small number of individuals, notably Sergey Diaghilev, Constance Garnett, Fedor Komissarzhevsky, Katherine Mansfield, George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf.

Drawing on recent research and newly available archives, Russia in Britain shifts attention from individual figures to the networks within which they operated, and uncovers the variety of forces that enabled and structured the British engagement with Russian culture. The resulting narrative maps an intricate pattern of interdisciplinary relations and provides the foundational research for a new understanding of Anglo-Russian/Soviet interaction. In this, it makes a major contribution to the current debates about transnationalism, cosmopolitanism and ‘global modernisms’ that are reshaping our knowledge of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British culture.

With Rebecca Beasley, Philip Bullock and Matthew Taunton.

Further details here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Russia in Britain

Russia in Britain 1880-1940: From Melodrama to Modernism, edited by Rebecca Beasley and Philip Bullock, is soon to be published by Oxford University Press. It contains a chapter by me called 'Russia and the British Intellectuals: the Significance of the Stalin-Wells Talk', as well as lots of other fascinating stuff.

You can find out more about the book, read the introduction, and order it for your library here

ARRN reading group, 4th October, Pushkin House

The Autumn reading group of the Anglo-Russian Research Network will see Professor Kimberley Reynolds (Newcastle University) introducing children's literature of the 1930s and 40s about the USSR. It should be a fascinating evening: further details are here.

Friday, July 19, 2013

New Statesman piece on the Stalin-Wells Talk

I have a piece on the New Statesman website about H.G. Wells's 1934 interview with Stalin in the same magazine. It's a part of the magazine's centenary celebrations. You can read the article here - it's based on some research I did for a chapter in Russia in Britain, 1880-1920: From Melodrama to Modernism, ed. by Rebecca Beasley and Philip Bullock, forthcoming from Oxford University Press this autumn. More details to follow...