Literature and Humanities



Rough Cuts: The Wood Culture of Brücke Expressionism

Symposium on European Modernism, 1895-1935

Dr Christian Weikop, Humboldt University, University of Edinburgh

17 October 2010

‘A new ---- by Virginia Woolf’: Woolf’s Search for Form

Symposium on European Modernism, 1895-1935

Dr Elizabeth Wright, Bath Spa University

17 October 2010

Modernism in Music: Some Landmarks 1895-1935

Symposium on European Modernism, 1895-1935

Professor Jonathan Cross, University of Oxford

16 October 2010

The Great London Vortex: Wyndham Lewis and his Contemporaries

Symposium on European Modernism, 1895-1935

Professor Paul Edwards, Bath Spa University

16 October 2010

The following essay is by the Convenor for Literature and Humanities, Dr Robert Blackburn. It is partly based on a visit to the Tate Britain exhibition The Vorticists, 14 June to 4 September 2011, and includes much detail and information well beyond that given in the lecture.


Kafka's World and the Modern World

Symposium on European Modernism, 1895-1935

Professor Ronald Speirs, University of Birmingham

16 October 2010

Painting in France, Spain and Italy in the Modern Period, c1895-1935

Symposium on European Modernism, 1895-1935

Dr Bernard Vere, Sotherby's Institute of Art, London

16 October 2010

Robert Schumann (b. 8 June 1810): His Creative Life to 1840/41


Dr Robert Blackburn, former Principal Lecturer in Music, Bath Bath Spa University

20 July 2010

Beyond ‘The Golden Notebook’: Re-reading Doris Lessing


Tom Sperlinger, Director of Lifelong Learning for English, University of Bristol

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


Short introduction by the Convenor

E.M. Forster and ‘Howards End’


Professor Peter Childs, University of Goucestershire

18 May 2010

Figure 1: E.M. Forster as a young man

Musicians in Late Georgian Bath – A Social Perspective


Andrew Clarke, Research Student, Department of Music, Bristol University

20 April 2010

Primo Levi, Scientist and Writer


Dr Charlotte Ross, University of Birmingham

18 March 2010


Muriel Spark’s Novels: Concepts of Self


Dr Julia Garratt, Former Subject Leader in Visual Culture and Lecturer in English, Bath Spa University

16 February 2010


1. Introduction: Muriel Spark (1918-2006) by the Convenor

Thomas Hardy the Novelist: The Origins of his ‘Pessimism’


Professor Ralph Pite, Department of English, Uniersity of Bristol

19 January 2010

This article, though a report of Professor Ralph Pite’s 2010 talk on Hardy (the first on this author at the BRLSI) is the work of the Convenor, Dr Robert Blackburn, and includes much material not mentioned or discussed in the talk 


Memory & Imagination

Gerard Woodward

Author and tutor at Bath Spa University

Creative Writing Dept.

20 September 2005

This was a non-academic talk by a creative writer,

short listed for the Whitbread prize 2001 for August

and runner up to the Man Booker prize 2004 for I’ll Go to Bed at Noon.

Aspects of Modernism 4: American Abstract Expressionism

Rex Valentine

BRLSI Member

18 October 2005


Long Woman

Kevin Manwaring,


9 December 2005

Politics before Feminism

Elaine Challus

Bath Spa University College

21 October 2004

‘The Secret of the Sphinx’: What makes Wuthering Heights unique in English Literature?

Chaired by Peter Rex Valentine

Peter Foreman

BRLSI Member

16 November 2004

The speaker began by assuring the audience that Emily Brontë had nothing to do with the famous monument in Egypt. The idea that she was the sphinx of English literature originated in the 19th century due to her Chinese box method of narration, which lends her an enigmatic quality.

Leo Tolstoy: Sinner, Novelist, Prophet

Simon Farrow

BRLSI Member

18 January 2005


The Book that Influenced Me: short presentations by 5 BRLSI Members

Meeting chaired by Rex Valentine

The meeting was well attended, and much more popular than expected. None of the subjects chosen were trivial, and two were illustrated with overheads. If there was a theme it was ‘the strength of the human spirit’. Some could have been full-length talks. In future similar meetings will be held, once a year involving not more than 4 speakers, who will be given 30 minutes to present.

Summaries are as follows.

Albert Schweitzer’s Life 1875-1965

Rex Valentine

Willa Cather & My Antonia

Betty Suchar

BRLSI Member

16 March 2005

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Chaired by Peter Rex Valentine

Geoffrey Catchpole

BRLSI Member

19 April 2005

The trilogy comprises Northern Lights (1996), The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2001). The speaker’s interest was aroused through the BBC ‘Big Read’ poll of 2003 and the subsequent National Theatre play, together with an interview between Pullman and Melvyn Bragg, televised this year. A film is also pending. Enquiry of the audience showed that many had some acquaintance with either the books or with the other productions.

Penguin Books: the Allan Lane Years

Steve Hare

Director, Penguin Collectors Society

19 October 2004

Mayakovsky in America

Meeting chaired by Peter Rex Valentine

Neil Cornwell

University of Bristol

17 May 2005

The following text is adapted from the ‘Introduction’ to the edition of Mayakovsky’s My Discovery of America (edited and translated by the speaker), published by Hesperus Press, in their ‘New Voices’ series (July 2005).

Mayakovsky and the ‘Futurist’ background

Thomas Mann: Moralist & Critic

with special reference to Buddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain & Doktor Faust

Dr Robert Blackburn

Bath Spa University (retired)

21 June 2005

‘It is not art’s way to leave the stage with scornful laughter. She is bound up with the good. She is rooted in kindness, which is akin to wisdom, even closer akin to love. Playing a game of the profoundest seriousness, she symbolises man’s eternal striving after perfection.’


Chaired by Peter Rex Valentine on 15 July 2003

Next years programme was arranged up to July 2004 with 4 member and 4 visiting speakers including a 10th anniversary lecture by Paul Gough, Dean of the University of the West of England’s Art Media & Design Department.


Christine Crossley, Member, on 17 June 2003



Betty Suchar, Member, on 17 March 2003

The centenary of Henry James' birth in 1943 unleashed an avalanche of critical articles and books on James. Some acclaimed him as The Master, others dismissed his contemplative style, but most acknowledged him as a dedicated craftsman in pursuit of creating literature as a form of art.


Brian Crossley on 8 Feb 2003

The speaker chose an original approach to Wilde. Instead of discussing his well-known comedies and "well made" plays. He focuses on his serious "failed" plays to explore the underlying psychology of Wilde himself.

To use Wilde’s own words: "Experience is the name men give to their mistakes." But for Wilde these experiences were the ‘sine qua non’ of his life and art. Even in his early works this longhaired dandy’s poems, like his appearance, challenged society.


Peter Rex Valentine, Member, on 21 January 2003

Ambroise Vollard by Picasso ©