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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Inventions of the Text Seminar Series

Inventions of the Text complements our Research Seminar series. Inventions is organised by a team of postgraduate researchers, and combines papers by academics from Durham and beyond with presentations by PhD students. Seminars run roughly every couple of weeks during term time, with around eight or nine events a year. After each seminar, attendees are welcome to socialise with the speaker(s) over dinner. They are generally for University staff and students, although sometimes open to the public.

Forthcoming Inventions of the Text Seminars

Reading Barmaids

25th January 2012, 17:00 to 18:30, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Katy Mullin (University of Leeds)

An Inventions of the Text seminar.

'Reading Barmaids' will show how the barmaid became defined as a new sexual persona in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. It will argue that barmaids became key signifiers of modernity, and that their status informed a number of canonical novels which contributed to debates around the art of fiction. These are George Gissing's The Nether World (1889), George Moore's Esther Waters (1894), Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure (1895) and, a generation later, James Joyce's Ulysses (1922).

I will argue that barmaid characters in these novels respond, in oblique and intriguing ways, to the challenges of censorship.

About the Speaker

Katy Mullin teaches Victorian and Modern literature at the University of Leeds. Her book, James Joyce, Sexuality and Social Purity, came out from Cambridge University Press in 2003. She is currently working towards her second book, Working Girls: Literature, Labour and Sexuality, which explores literary and cultural representations of barmaids, shop-girls, typists and telegraphists between 1880 and 1920.

Contact for more information about this event.

Related Links

Past Inventions of the Text Seminars