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January 17, 2012

Celebrating Dickens


As I have mentioned previously, Warwick have a Celebrating Dickens website that draws together researchers from across the university discussing their perspectives on Dickens and Victorian life.

The website has just been updated with more podcasts from researchers around the University, and I've contributed two podcasts discussing my own research: the first is on travel and mobility in Bleak House, and the second discusses representations of Europe in Little Dorrit.

December 30, 2011

2011 round–up

2011 saw a bit of a change in direction for this blog, reflecting my change in position: back in April I was awarded my PhD, meaning a shift in my status as a researcher and less consistency to my research activity. I've been working on lots of smaller research projects, and have been adapting to fitting research into a busy teaching schedule accompanied by a part-time job. As well as the time taken by these activities, I now run 3 other blogs - 2 for my students on The English 19th-century noveland Modes of Reading, and 1 through my role as ECR project officer in the Research Exchange - so research blogging is often not a priority in my limited "spare" time.

Having said that, all of this has been productive for my blog - in fact, only in 2008 did I write more posts than this year! Multiple smaller projects simply means that there are more bits and pieces to blog about, and it's been a busy year for Victorianists thanks to a certain birthday approaching next year. Joining the academic community on Twitter has also proved stimulating and further increased the interactivity and enjoyment of blogging - for example, leading to some cross-referencing in blogging as well as the discovery of several new Victorianist blogs to read (see the recently updated sidebar).

So to wrap up the year, here are my favourite and most-read posts of 2011:

1. "Moving on and moving on": Mobility in Bleak House; written 10 days before my viva, this post is a good example of the uses of academic blogging: this blog provided the starting-point for ideas that grew into one of my most enjoyable and productive pieces of research. I've since presented a paper, written an article, and am now formulating my monograph proposal around this research.

2. Old and new; reflections on the past, present and future of new media drawing together the iPad and Victorian periodical publication. I also wrote two other posts on Victorian studies and new technology: reviews of The Waste Land appand the Dickens's Dark London app.


3. "What connection can there be": the Great Exhibition of 1851; some research on the Bleak House paper led me to read more about the Great Exhibition, and here I blogged about the images that accompany Henry Mayhew's comic novel 1851 - I still find these images fascinating.


4. "Can you shew me the places?" Dickens 2012 and Literary Tourism; one of my bicentenary reflections, using the urban tour of Bleak House to offer perspectives for interpreting the popularity of Dickens walking tours.

5. Wuthering Heights: it's not all about Dickens! This is my initial response to the recent film of Wuthering Heights.

That's my top 5, but also noteworthy are the posts about 3 excellent conferences I attended: Modes of Transport at KCL in May, Travel in the 19th Century at Lincoln in July, and (if I may say so myself!) the symposium Rural Geographies of Gender and Space, Britain 1840-1920 that I organised in September.

Looking ahead to 2012 I expect there will be the odd Dickens post or two (!), but my latest emerging projects are diverging into some different directions: I'll be revisiting my work on George Eliot's Adam Bede and The Mill on the Floss in preparation for a paper to be presented at Moving Dangerously in April; the work on Rural Geographies is continuing with plans for a publication of papers from the conference; and I'm looking into developing a research network on 19th century mobility with another Warwick post-doctoral researcher. I'll also be contributing soon to Warwick's Celebrating Dickens 2012 website.

I'll be back in the new year with posts on all of these activities; until then, have a happy new year!

December 06, 2011

Wuthering Heights

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“With regard to the rusticity of Wuthering Heights, I admit the charge, for I feel the quality. It is rustic all through. It is moorish, and wild, and knotty as the root of heath.”

In Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights,these reflections by Charlotte Brontë on her sister Emily’s novel become more pertinent than ever: not so much in that it is moorish, wild, knotty, rustic, but in the suggestion that we “feel the quality”. In Arnold’s stripped-bare adaptation it is feeling, both physical and emotional, that dominates this Wuthering Heights.

It is, from the start, a violent film: raw and bleak, muddy and bloody. The film doesn’t shy away from a brutal violence either amongst its characters, or in its depictions of rural life. The landscape is, throughout, prominent – more so, perhaps, than in Brontë’s novel – but not sentimentalised, idealised or romanticised. Here, the landscape simply is; through camera-angles burrowing through the heath or focusing on a grub, the land is left to speak for itself. The absence of music – or even much speech –contributes to this: detailed sights are accompanied by sharply focused sounds that further add to the effect of not just seeing, but really feeling the landscape.

Likewise, the emotions here are raw, bleak, simple; characters simply are rather than given the feeling of being “interpreted” or presented. They are left largely unexplored in terms of psychological depth, driven by emotion – not so much in terms of there being explicit, recognisable forces or motivations, but that there is little other than response and feeling behind each action and movement. Interpretation seems to take a back seat for both actors and viewer; it’s a strange experience to watch this film, as we’re not asked to interpret, question or even engage in the way we might usually with a film or text. It’s a form of realism which, whilst appearing to strip back technique, or mediation simultaneously persists in making us aware of the process of viewing.

Wuthering Heights

As a result, the film seems to resist much of what we might want to read into it in terms of its depiction of gender and race. In the first half of the film the young Cathy and Heathcliff, both individually and together, resist being interpreted as raced/ gendered types and, as with the rest of the text, simply exist in and of themselves; individual mannerisms, behaviours, emotions surface here.

This in turn complicates how we read what has become the most talked-about aspect of the film, that this Heathcliff is the first non-white Heathcliff; but how significant is this in the film's presentation? The problem with so much critical interest in this aspect of the film is that the viewer goes in with an expectation and, perhaps, an agenda to focus on the portrayal of race and what interpretation this lends to the text. This is, to an extent, always true in so far as a film of Wuthering Heights has to take a critical judgement on the most interesting ambiguity of the text, Heathcliff’s unknown origins. One of the most interesting and anxiety-ridden elements of the text is that the question of Heathcliff's origins resist interpretation: it's the fact that Heathcliff could potentially be from anywhere that lingers as the text's most pervasive yet unspoken fear.

Equally, it isn’t impossible that Heathcliff “could” be black: his origins are unknown and he is variously read as being Chinese, Indian, Spanish, American, or African. As critics such as Susan Meyer have argued, regardless of his “actual” origins, Heathcliff is read by others in the text as "black", positioned as the black subject through the treatment by other characters who subject him “to the potent gaze of a racial arrogance derived from British imperialism” (Imperialism at Home).

Here, Heathcliff’s origins remain a subject of some doubt: the film retains lines in which he’s referred to as a “little Lascar”, or speculating that he might be "the son of an African prince or Chinese queen" (slightly altered from “your father was Emperor of China, and your mother an Indian queen” in the text). This brings to the surface the nineteenth-century Imperial perspective in which all non-white subjects are collectively grouped together as “black”, regardless of actual origins; the brutality of violence enacted on Heathcliff here served to reiterate the power dynamic within this. But beyond this, it didn’t feel as though the film was working to make a particular point "about" race and the nineteenth century; the violence extends throughout all characters and, as with other elements of the text, his race is presented in a matter-of-fact manner.

If the film does anything to make this about Heathcliff, it's that it centres him as narrative perspective. This gives more structure and coherence to a text which is notably unstable in its narrative perspective, and for that reason this becomes a narrative of Heathcliff. Perhaps as a result of this, the blurred relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff felt less prominent and less intense; and of Cathy’s most famous lines “he’s more myself than I am” and“Nelly, I am Heathcliff”, the first is cut short and the latter omitted. Interestingly, this therefore serves to break what Susan Meyer notes as a recurrent motif in the nineteenth-century novel of a representational yoking of white women with people of non-white races.

In terms of structure, the film follows most other adaptations in only focusing on the first half of the novel. Having said that, it’s still very much a film of two halves, with the switch in actors when Cathy marries and Heathcliff leaves and then returns. As others have noted, whilst Solomon Grave and Shannon Beer are excellent, the second pairing of James Howson and Kaya Scodelario doesn’t maintain much of what the younger actors achieve so well, and the relationship lacks the earlier chemistry; but in some ways, this discontinuity and jarring seemed right to me. Heathcliff returns changed by his journey away, and to find Cathy socialised as Edgar's wife; the connection of their youth is clearly lost, and the stilted atmosphere that now existed between the two reiterated the inability to recapture what had been lost and the new maturity of the characters. There's a commentary here, too, about the social impossibility of their relationship, something the text doesn't engage so much with in its focus on the passion between them. This half of the film therefore operates in the way that the second half of Bronte's novel does, holding up the first half to scrutiny.

These are just some initial reflections on a film that offers much both in terms of its interpretation of Bronte's text and in terms of wider ideas about adaptations of nineteenth-century texts; but I’ll be thinking more about both the film and adapations of nineteenth-century texts in general in a piece for the Knowledge Centre with Francesca Scott.

October 12, 2011

Dickens and Google Maps

I've been using Google maps in preparing a paper for this weekend's Dickens Day conference, I've been playing around with the "my places" function - I only discovered the other day that you can save places to create different maps. It's been fun creating maps of the locations in a couple of novels I'm writing about (I've just been drawing on print-out maps until now); here are my maps of the places of Bleak House and David Copperfield.

BH david_copperfield.png

(Click to enlarge. Yes, my graphics skills need a little work!)

Of course this is just a more hi-tech form of what Morretti does in Atlas of the European Novel, and a starting-point for ideas rather than an end in itself; but it's nonetheless a useful way for stimulating ideas about location and place in individual novels, and indeed for re-thinking, revising, or even complicating initial readings of place.

In Bleak House, for example, it's notable that the significant locations fall upon this linear North-South axis: from London, to Bleak House in Hertfordshire, and up again to Chesney Wold in Lincolnshire; and then directly(ish) down to Paris. A brief excursion to Deal breaks this, but predominantly it's this movement up and down the country that forms the basis of the novel. In David Copperfield, this visualises what I've written about before about the tight, restricted geography of the text.

And in Little Dorrit, this is even more noticeable:


London (and the "suburb" Twickenham) is the only English location in the text; this is accompanied by a European narrative, but limiting the text to London locations opens up more questions about the relationship between those two parts of the narrative and how "Englishness" is represented in the text.

I'm not sure yet if I'll be using these maps in the talk itself as my focus is on the movements between these locations; but as I'm looking at how mobility reshapes the space of the nation, these maps provide a useful and concise visualisations of some of the key ideas I'm presenting. This might also feed in nicely to my teaching on the English C19th novel, where we're thinking a lot about place and nation, and (as Moretti's work shows), mapping the places of texts such as Austen's works provides a useful way into thinking about these ideas for the first time.

September 26, 2011

Rural Geographies of Gender and Space, Britain 1840–1920

Rural Geographies of Gender and Space, Britain 1840-1920 brought together researchers from literature, history and geography to discuss gender-space intersections in rural contexts in the long Victorian period. The symposium theme had emerged from points of cross-over between my work -particularly my studies of women walking- and that of Gemma Goodman, who researches gender and rural space in the context of Cornwall. We found that whilst "women and the city" is a much covered theme in gender-place/space discussions, rural environments are less frequently taken as a specific context in their own right. We thought that the rural offered an equally productive site for discussions and hoped that the symposium would bring to the fore the different types of rural experiences in this period, and diverse approaches to theorising rural spaces.boreas.jpg

The symposium proved to be productive and stimulating in both of these respects, not least because this was a truly interdisciplinary day: presenters from history, geography and literary studies took us through the spaces of Britain's farms, country houses, gardens, and out to the rural spaces of the empire, from the perspectives of writers, geographers, designers, artists. The day began with a keynote presentation from Jo Little, who is Professor of Gender and Geography at the University of Exeter. Her paper "Feminist Rural Geography: The Development of Approaches to the Study of Gender, Identity and the Countryside" began by outlining the development of gendered rural geographies before focusing on the key areas involved in this study, raising themes that remained prominent throughout the rest of the day. What came through in particular was the importance of the rural in constructing gender identity, particularly due to the stringently traditional, heteronormative values that continue to preside here. This was encapsulated in discussion of the campaign "The farmer wants a wife" which ran in the early 2000s, in which (male) farmers particularly sought women who would understand and were suited to the rural "way of life" - urban, fashionable, made-up women need not apply, as this suggested "flighty" notions incompatible with rural life. The sense of the rural as a "special" space away from the city emerged here too, also explored in Jo's research on "the rural body" which looks at the idea of the rural "transformative" holiday in which mind and body are restored to a "natural" healthiness through health and fitness activities in rural locations. What interested me here was that this "rural body" was a construct for the (urban) outsider entering into this space, a touristic notion to be appropriated rather than a term to describe the bodies of the rural inhabitants themselves.farmerwife

Professor Little's work is on contemporary rural spaces, but these ideas resonate strongly with our study of nineteenth-century ruralities: the beginnings of rural tourism as a return to nature, the strong sense of traditional gendered roles and heteronormative sexual identities, and the importance of rural labour and class in defining identity, all came through in other papers throughout the day, and, to me, recalled my work on George Eliot's earlier novels. But we also saw ways in which women challenged some of these assumptions and worked to shape their own rural spaces; in the first panel on "Cultivated Ruralities", Emma Gray (University of Bristol) spoke about women's roles in the rebuilding of the country houses Tyntesfield and Dartington Hall, and Christen Ericsson (University of Southampton) discussed Gertrude Jekyll's designing of flower gardens - both occupations were considered outside of the female sphere, and in their undertakings these women could take command over their rural environments and forge an autonomous identity. Di Drummond's (Leeds Trinity) paper on Flora Annie Steel's writing on India moved us beyond British borders, but brought out a similar theme in identifying how Steel's writing shows a different vision of rural India to the male imperial writing of rural space; although often coinciding with masculine perspectives, her writing, such as In the Permanent Way, incorporates the perspectives of Indian inhabitants, producing a variegated vision of rural space. In the same panel, Karina Jakubowicz (UCL) also discussed how rural spaces beyond Britain enable the development of female autonomy, taking an ecofeminist perspective on Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out which uses rural South America as a space in which the boundaries of gendered roles and sexualities become broken down. Kitty O'Connor also took challenging binaries as her theme in discussion of gender and geography in Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native and The Woodlanders, terming this a "geography of gender mulitiplicity".

countrygirlThe third panel, "Gender in the Field", returned us to British farms and fields. Maija Kuharenoka (de Montfort University) discussed masculinity in Mathilde Blind's "The Teamster", whilst Roger Ebbatson's analysis of Hardy's "Tess's Lament" looked at the portrayal of women in the field - I was taken with a quote describing rural women workers, which stated that "the language of the hay field is not that of pastoral poetry", again conveying this sense of discrepancy between internal and external perspectives on the countryside. Finally, Frances Richardson (Oxford) spoke about women farmers in Nantconwy, looking at the changes in farming practice in this region of Wales throughout the second half of the nineteenth century.

The day concluded with a roundtable discussion in which we drew together - or rather, opened up!- some of the recurrent themes; classed perspectives were of particular interest, with the question of where/whether there is space for the middle class in the countryside, and I was also interested in where/whether there is space for alternative gendered identities and sexualities. These are issues which I'm sure I'll keep on thinking about over the coming weeks; as far as my research was concerned, this provided a welcome change from my current focus on mobility and Dickens, and opened up new ideas for how I can develop some of my thesis work on rural environments. I hope the day was as interesting and productive for those who attended; our next step is to work the papers into a proposal for an edited collection on Rural Geographies, and I'm looking forward to hearing more from our participants in the future.

September 22, 2011

The Dickens Bicentenary

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dickens birthday bookVictorianists can't have failed to notice that 2012 marks 200 years since the birth of Charles Dickens - there's been a flurry of conference activity, special issues of English journals, and an increased interest outside of academia too. Today, Guardian Books launched their Charles Dickens at 200 celebration which, as the launch post informs, will commence with podcasts, audiotours, and reviews of new Dickens work. Whilst Dickens is hardly a neglected author, both in academia and popular culture, it's nonetheless great to see so much interest in his works, not least because I think that one of the interesting things this media attention will generate is questions around the cultural status of Dickens: our "idea" of Dickens, what we invest in the figure of Dickens the author, and issues around symbols of national cultural identity - similar questions to those that arise around Shakespeare. It'll be good to see if any of the lesser-known works benefit from the increased attention - the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood is to be "given a new ending" by the BBC- and how the collective focus on Dickens's works enriches understanding of the better-known texts.

At Warwick, the press office is busy pulling together work on Dickens and the Victorian period from researchers across the University: I'll be contributing two podcasts about my current work, which focuses on various aspects of travel and mobility in Dickens. Further afield, the Dickens Fellowship annual conference is taking place in Portsmouth, which will allow for tours of Dickens-related sites, a Dickens and Birmingham conference will explore the Midlands connections, and Anglia Ruskin University will explore Dickens's Legacy; overseas, the Dickens Project's annual conference will celebrate the bicentenary with the conference Dickens!Author and Authorshipbefore spending a week on Bleak House. The Dickens 2012 website details the many other activities taking place - now I just need to work out what to go to!

August 23, 2011

Rural Geographies: programme and registration

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Registration is now open for Rural Geographies of Gender and Space, Britain 1840-1920 (University of Warwick, 23rd September 2011).


The new conference website includes the provisional programme- we had a very good response to the call for papers and have an exciting line-up of papers around the themes of "Cultivated Ruralities", "Beyond Britain", and "Gender in the Field", as well as a keynote presentation by Professor Jo Little of the University of Exeter. We have therefore been able to extend the symposium beyond the original half-day; registration will open at 10.15am with the first paper at 11am, and we will finish with a wine reception at 6pm.

Thanks to generous support from the Roberts Fund, attendance will be free - but we ask all attendees to register by 16th September using our online form.

The symposium will take place in the Wolfson Research Exchange seminar rooms; for information on travelling to the University and finding the venue, see our travel information page.

Any enquiries can be directed to myself or Gemma Goodman.

August 18, 2011

"What connection can there be?": the Great Exhibition of 1851

All the World Going to the Great Exhibition

I took a short research trip to the British Library last weekend, doing some work on the Great Exhibition of 1851 as context for current writing on Dickens's Bleak House, and while I was there I took the time to look at the originals of these pictures which I've come across in a couple of articles on the subject. They're illustrations from Henry Mayhew's comic novel 1851: or, The Adventures of Mr and Mrs Sandboys and Family, who came up to London to "enjoy themselves" and to see the Great Exhibition. I haven't yet read 1851 (the title doesn't exactly leave much to the imagination, but I do know that the Sandboys never actually make it to the Exhibition...) but these images are wonderful depictions of the anxieties surrounding the Exhibition. The opening image, above, shows "All the World going to see the Great Exhibition of 1851"; with the Crystal Palace standing on top of the world as the triumphant, celebrated achievement of the modern era, people of all nations encroach in to see it. Cultures are identified through stereotypical tropes typical of the period, but whilst people are visibly different in the bottom half of the picture - there's a clear sense of a scale of "civilization" operating across this globe - closer to the Palace the crowd becomes a homogenous, undistinguishable mass of people. This visibly depicts Prince Albert's words that the Exhibition signalled “that great end, to which, indeed, all history points – the realisation of the unity of mankind". It's notable, too, that this is a boundariless and borderless world; people are different, but the space in which they move is one.dispersion

The final image of the book, titled "The Dispersion of the Works of All Nations from the Great Exhibition of 1851”, is suggestive of the uncertainty of such unity: the objects of the Exhibition burst out from the Crystal Palace, dispersing into random confusion. Whilst the Exhibition attempted to impose neat systems of categorisation and re-asserted national borders by arranging objects by country, this image shows the complete disruption of organising systems; bringing all the world together does not result in a harmonious unity, but rather a descent into chaos that resists all containment. Notably, it's only objects that are dispersing, not the people of the previous image; things overrun the globe, highlighting the move into global capitalism that the Exhibition space stands as representative of. The Palace itself is in the centre of the picture, obscured by flying objects, yet in tact and unharmed - I can't decide, looking at it now, if it's suggesting a spontaneous explosion of objects out of the building that can't contain all this chaos, or rather an active expulsion of things away from British shores (as implied in the title "dispersion"). Both readings work, I think, and stand to assert the problems inherent in the Exhibition's global project and the counter-response of national introspection that we find in a novel like Bleak House.

Finally, these two images bring to mind one of the central questions of Bleak House: “what connexion can there be […] What connexion can there have been between many people in the innumerable histories of this world, who, from opposite sides of great gulfs, have, nonetheless, been very curiously brought together!” (256). We might easily substitute "things" in place of "people" and read the Exhibition as an attempt to form the connections between the diverse places and cultures of the world but which, as Cruikshank's second image suggests, simultaneously signalled the impossibility of such understanding. The question lingers through Dickens's text as another element of the novel's anti-Exhibition project, never giving us the totalizing view but rather revealing the impossibility of knowing the whole in a world in which everything is "moving on and moving on".

July 25, 2011

Update: Rural Geographies CFP Deadline Extended

Follow-up to Rural Geographies of Gender and Space, Britain 1840–1920 from Charlotte's Research blog

The deadline for paper proposals for the symposium Rural Geographies of Gender and Space, Britain 1840-1920 has been extended to the 15th August.

See the previous blog or webpage for more information.

July 18, 2011

Travel in the 19th Century (2): Intra–national mobilities

This is the second of two posts on the conference Travel in the 19th Centurywhich I attended at the University of Lincoln, 13-15th July 2011; in part 1 I focused on European travel, here I discuss papers on intra-national mobilities.

The effects of mobility in reshaping the relationship between space and time were a key theme of the European discussions throughout the conference but this also came up in the context of intra-national mobilities, most particularly in reference to railway journeys. Thursday morning saw a fascinating panel on Railway Travel, including Matt Thompson's (University of York) paper on a brilliant set of cartoon illustrations of the railways from the early 1840s, as well as Kara Tennant's (University of Cardiff) "A Restricted Ideal: Female Beauty in Transit" which focused on fashion and femininity in the railway carriage. I was most interested, though, in Di Drummond's (Leeds Trinity) paper on "Complimentary and Competing constructs of modernity in British and Indian narratives of the railway" which opened up an area of research I've long been interested in but haven't yet explored, the building of railways in 19th century India. Drummond's work on British railways has previously been of interest to me, exploring as it does concepts of space-time compression and the creation of new concepts of national space in Victorian Britain. Here a focus on India drew out similar issues to the spatial impact of British railways, which Drummond began by discussing through the intersection of modernity with colonial rhetoric, discourses which work to reinforce one another: the uneven development of India through the railway's spatial impact - an Old/New India - and a temporalised discourse around this solidified the modernity-imperial intersection. Drummond also looked at how national identity and the construction of national space were impacted by the railway: the extensive railway network suggesting the idea of an integrated and unified nation-space, whilst in Indian narratives discussions about national identity were generated through responses to the railway.

On the subject of intra-national mobilities, for me one of the key themes running throughout the conference was the need to expand the idea of what we think of as "travel" towards a concept that incorporates more diverse practices of mobility. This is a subject that remains central to the theoretical frameworks of my research; my thesis entered into debates around mobility theory, supporting the need for a conceptual shift from "travel" to "mobility" - a term that encompasses any form of movement through, and interaction with, socio-spatial contexts, thus situating the "production of meaning" of a subject-space interaction as the defining factor for what "counts" as a journey, rather than more arbitrary factors such as distance travelled or type of journey (leisure/pleasure) undertaken. Papers on the governess-traveller (Jenny Pearce, University of Hull), tramps (Ashley Fisher, University of Hull), and rambling clerks (Nicola Bishop, University of Lancaster) all pointed to the diverse forms of travel practice in the nineteenth century - particularly the value of what we might term "necessary" mobility - and the importance of expanding discussions to incorporate these practices; the representations such narratives produce are both significant in their own right, and in contributing to/working within the wider discourses about travel and transport in the nineteenth century. As my doctoral thesis sought to demonstrate, shifts in travel practice and the changing meanings this produced are manifest throughout all levels and scales of travel context, not just in those we might typically designate as "a journey", and it was encouraging to see others working from such a perspective and to learn more about the value of such narratives.

James Buzard's keynote paper offered an interesting perspective to these debates, bringing in another facet of expanding travel theory that has also been essential to my work: recognising that fictional narratives - particularly 19th century realism - contribute to, and work in the context of, discourses of travel. Centring his discussion around Madame Bovary, and building on the approaches of his Disorienting Fiction, Buzard offered an incisive and compelling reading of the relationship between travel, the novel, and ethnography which culminated in a renewed understanding of narrative technique in the realist text and the suggestion of free indirect discourse as the "stylistic variant of travel ethnography". In the wider context of his arguments, Buzard was, like the preceding papers, also thinking about the question of "what counts as travel" through looking at the discursive interactions of the novel with travel (Emma Bovary's imaginary wanderings - "with him she might have travelled all over the kingdom of Europe, from capital to capital" - provided the starting-point for discussion) and taking the 19th century text as an auto-ethnographic project. The role of the novel in wider travel cultures and discursive contexts is central to my research which takes a similar perspective in analysing fictional travel narratives as actively participating in 19th century travel culture.

But in light of the previous discussion about more inclusive mobilities, Buzard's approach distinctly differs, for he was dismissive of reading these travel practices as they appear in the novel: in setting out the context for discussion, he outlined the many and varied forms of movement in the novel and argued that these aren't really travel, not part of the same idea of travel culture with which the novel is interested. It's a point which stands in terms of his discussion of the relationship between narrative technique and travel culture, and the sophistication of this argument is not to be understated. But to me it seems to neglect the hugely important role that mobility does play in the novel and the perspectives on issues surrounding/emanating from travel culture that such movements offer - from the small-scale travels of characters through and between different places, to the wider-scale view of a novel's movement between geographical locations. These "actual" mobilities and the spaces they occupy play a different but nonetheless significant role in shaping narrative form, and reading through these movements and spaces offers a new perspective on how narratives might be seen to operate in the context of travel cultures. These journeys offer a rich and varied resource for developing further the relationship between travel and the novel. That aside, though, Buzard's paper offered some insightful new perspectives and I'll be thinking about this more as I revisit work on Dickens in the coming weeks.

As a final note on intra-national mobilities, we conference delegates were able to escape the confines of the campus to take a tour of Lincoln Cathedral, led by Jim Chesire, with focus on the Victorian stained glass of the cathedral. It was lovely to see more of the city, learn about the glorious cathedral and to have a shift in perspective - one which, quite aptly, positioned us as tourists!

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