IMLR Graduate Forum

IMLR Graduate Forum
3 December 2019, 6.00pm - 7.30pm
Research Training
Room 234, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

The IMLR Graduate Forum is a friendly and informal space to meet other MA, PhD and PostDoc researchers, share your ideas and work-in-progress and get constructive feedback from peers across languages and institutions. 

All presentations are followed by a Q&A with free wine and nibbles.

Session 2: Historical perspectives in the global 20th century

1. Marta Fossati 'When Aesthetics Meets Ethics: The South African Short Story from a Diachronic Perspective'

When Aesthetics Meets Ethics: The South African Short Story from a Diachronic Perspective
My project investigates the diachronic development of the literary genre of the anglophone short story in South Africa, starting from the 1930s to the present day. A diachronic perspective has been chosen because it offers the possibility of understanding how the evolution of the South African political situation did inform the shaping of a precise literary genre, imported from the Western textual practice. It is in this union between ethics and aesthetics that the paradigms of postcolonialism meet a project on the study of a textual genre. Indeed, my research project covers two different research areas: on the one hand it is part of the postcolonial studies; on the other hand, this project focuses on the study of a literary genre – that of the short story, with a corpus of short fiction by seven different writers. The choice of a diachronic perspective allows to fill a gap in previous and coeval critical studies. Indeed, a lack of in-depth textual analyses on the short stories of non-contemporary South African writers can be identified, particularly as far as texts of the 30s and 40s are concerned. In my analysis of short fiction, moreover, also literary magazines are taken into consideration as the essential means for the codification and circulation of literary knowledge, and for the creation of a canon. Interestingly, this element has brought about a cross-fertilisation between journalism and short fiction in South African literature: several news reports display fictional features, whereas many short stories resemble – and are sometimes categorised as – factual texts. However, critical studies tend to mention this union of different genres without a textual analysis to support this hypothesis, focusing almost exclusively on the period of the fifties and sixties. Instead, the role played by the black press has been germane to the development of fictional texts – first and foremost short stories – since the early twenties. My research project thus intends to explore this feature of genre mobility, so typical of South African short fiction, to try and demonstrate on a textual level how South African writers use factual stylistic features that belong to journalism in their short stories. Ultimately, a corpus of texts by non-white writers has been chosen because it bears witness to the deep intertwining between ethics and aesthetics. However, a formal comparison with stories written by whites is also necessary in order to highlight possible similarities or disparities among the literary works that do not necessarily bring back readers to the rigid white-black dichotomy of apartheid.

2. Mathis Gronau 'Surrounded by the Enemy? The German Minority in Britain and France 1914-1924'

Using archival resources at the University of London, my project seeks to understand the social attitudes surrounding the German diaspora in Britain and France during World War One and the Interwar period, leading up to 1924. How did Germans assimilate and resist their adopted environments, and the cultural backlash that they faced following the conflicts of the Great War? Using archival footage, photography, interviews and newspaper articles, my research is premised on asking whether the atmosphere it investigates may have led to the rival concepts of Europe's future, that would eventually lead to the rise of Nazism in the following decade, and the conflict it subsequently provoked.

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Kremena Velinova
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