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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.

PhD Student and Early Career Researcher Seminar

30th May 2017, 17:30 to 19:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Xavier Cousin and Sarah Lohmann

An Inventions of the Text seminar, with complementary papers on interdisciplinary aspects of the presenters' PhD research.

Xavier Cousin, ‘From To the Lighthouse to The Waves: Virginia Woolf and the Impact of Quantum Mechanics on Postmodern Literature’

‘A common narrative in literature and science studies is that the transition from Newtonian to quantum physics mirrored the transition from realist to postmodern literature, as they both share common notions about reality and human knowledge of it. But what about modernist literature, written when quantum mechanics was still emerging? In this talk, I shall use Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse and The Waves – the first written before the maturation of quantum physics, the second after – as case studies to explore how this science affected literature. In doing so, I hope to enhance our understanding of the postmodern relation to quantum mechanics.’

Sarah Lohmann, ‘On the Edge of Time: The Complex Reconfiguration of Reality in Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time and Joanna Russ’s The Female Man

‘Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) and Joanna Russ’s The Female Man (1975) demonstrate an unusual approach to the classical utopian narrative framework: instead of presenting us with a single ideal future accessed in a linear fashion, they employ various forms of time travel, alternate realities and identity shifts to create uniquely dynamic utopian visions. In this talk, I will show how complexity and relativity theory can be used to make sense of this, thereby providing an example of an interdisciplinary literary analysis that employs science as an interpretative tool rather than a historically informed lens.’

About Inventions of the Text

Inventions of the Text is a fortnightly staff-student seminar series run by postgraduate students from the Department of English Studies at Durham University. In seminars, staff and postgraduate students from Durham and other institutions present their research in the form of a brief paper before participating in a discussion on the issues raised.

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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