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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Modern Literature, Culture, and the Archives of the Secret State

28th March 2014, 12:00 to 29th March 2014, 17:00, St. Aidan's College

The twentieth century saw, across the globe, an unprecedented rise in state agencies dedicated to the surveillance and regulation of domestic populations, and the management of literature and culture soon became a major focus of such activity.

This state interference often took coercive forms. The banning of books, the censorship of theatre and film, the maintenance of dossiers on authors and the blacklisting of performers were just some of the ways in which the secret state profoundly influenced the careers of individuals as well as the shape of broader cultural developments.

However, government agencies also manipulated culture in other, less coercive, ways. Authors were courted and recruited as propagandists, books were commissioned and subsidised, international cultural events were supported and prestigious publications were underwritten, all in order to boost certain ideological positions and deploy culture as a weapon for projecting state power and prestige.

In the wake of continued archival openings and burgeoning scholarly interest, this symposium will showcase current research in this field, bringing together an international array of scholars in order to discuss the various forms this interaction took across the world.

Confirmed speakers include Greg Barnhisel (Duquesne), Laura Bradley (Edinburgh), Sarah Davies (Durham), Jason Harding (Durham), Marina MacKay (Durham), Nicole Moore (UNSW/ADFA), Adam Piette (Sheffield), Petra Rau (East Anglia), Asha Rogers (Oxford), Giles Scott-Smith (RSC/Leiden), and Hugh Wilford (California State University, Long Beach).

Attendance at the conference is free but places are limited, and all attendees are requested to register in advance with the conference organiser, James Smith, at

The event is hosted by the Department of English Studies, Durham University, with thanks to funding from the British Academy.

Contact for more information about this event.


Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies


We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Find out more on our Events page.


Many of our public lectures, seminars and conferences are recorded, and can be listened to as podcasts.

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Next Event

  • 29th January 2021
  • Title TBC
  • Online (Zoom)
  • Dr Hannah-Rose Murray (University of Edinburgh)