Graduate Research Seminar

12.45 for 13.00 in SCR; a sandwich lunch is provided.

Mr Owen Holland (PhD in English) will speak on "William Morris's Utopianism: Propaganda or Pre-figuration?" 

The nineteenth-century poet, designer and political activist, William Morris (1834-1896), is widely admired in today's culture industry for his wallpaper and soft furnishings, but how does Morris's aesthetic identity relate to his political entanglement in the socialist movement of the 1880s? Or, to put it another way, how is Morris, 'the wallpaper man', connected to Morris the revolutionary communist who stood somewhere to the left of Lenin? Answers to these questions have usually been sought in Morris's utopian romance, News from Nowhere (1890), a text which was first published in serial form in the Socialist League's newspaper Commonweal. I will examine some different critical approaches to Morris's text, and the utopian genre more broadly, in
order to broach a discussion of what value, if any, Morris's distinctive conception of the good life has for criticism and culture today.

The Graduate Research Seminar provides an opportunity for our graduate students and research fellows to discuss their work before an astute and very friendly audience. Because this mixed audience includes not only expert insiders, but also intelligent and interested outsiders, this is also an opportunity for speakers to hone their communicative skills, and for the rest of us to be exposed to unfamiliar problems, methodologies and theories.

Meetings begin at 12.45 in the Senior Combination Room, where a free buffet lunch is provided. The speakers kick off at 13.00, and finish by 13.30, giving us a quarter of an hour for questions and discussion.