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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

Flora Annie Steel and the Indian 'Mutiny' Novel

8th June 2016, 17:30 to 18:45, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Phillip Mallett

An Inventions of the Text seminar.

In 1897 Hilda Gregg reflected: ‘Of all the great events of this century, as they are reflected in fiction, the Indian Mutiny has taken the firmest hold on the popular imagination.’ Much of this fiction—at least thirty novels—was written between 1890 and 1910. In part, it reflects the anxieties of the age, as the rapid expansion of the British Empire was matched by increasing threats to its security, from Russia on India’s northern borders, from the Boers in South Africa, and from German militarization in Europe. In part, too, those who had lived through these ‘Terrible Times’ (to borrow the title of one Mutiny novel) were growing old; the time had come to firm up the cultural memory of what had become known as ‘the epic of the race’, and to take control of how it was to be told. This paper looks in particular at one of the more rewarding of these novels, On the Face of the Waters by Flora Annie Steel (sometimes known, to her annoyance and probably to his, as ‘the female Kipling’), and at some of the recurring motifs in ‘Mutiny’ fiction, including ideas of heroism and manliness, disguise, and the role of women in the Empire.

Contact for more information about this event.

Past Inventions of the Text Seminars