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14 June 2023 - 14 June 2023

5:30PM - 6:30PM

Elvet Riverside and online

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An award-winning writer, a rising star in contemporary poetry, a convention-defying critic of grief and a philosophical Shakespearean get together under one roof for 90 minutes! Here's all you need to know about our presenters and their presentations!

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An Inventions of the Text Seminar

Ms Annie Zaidi, 3rd Year PhD student, Creative Writing 

Apple-cheeked, but sometimes bald: Witch bodies in contemporary South Asian literature 

Who is a South Asian witch? How many types are there, and what does hair and skin have to do with it? If the witch is ‘a vessel that contains our conflicting feelings about female power: our fear of it, our desire for it,’ this female archetype signals socio-sexual anxieties around the viability and stability of gendered bodies. As a monster, she is not a being unto herself as much as she is a failed woman. Fictional monsters, however, also serve to extend ‘human potentiality.’ In my work, I explore the figure of the witch in South Asia as an extended woman in that she is ‘too much, limitless.’ She may be bald, dark and ugly, or beautiful and with a long braid, or both, and sometimes, she is not embodied at all. These diverse representations hint at a woman who is trained in the conventions of femininity and possessed of sexual power, and yet, does not abide by the rules that govern the category of ‘woman.’ In light of contemporary fictional narratives, I show that constructions of witch bodies in the South Asian imagination highlight the danger that lurks behind femininity itself, in an overwhelmingly patriarchal context.  

Mr Rory Clarkson, 4th Year PhD student, English Studies 

Relearning the Elegy 

This paper will provide an overview of my reading of elegy, discussing the current consensus before presenting the psychological and philosophical position. From such I shall detail my chosen perspective, Thomas Attig's idea of relearning the world through grief experience, and argue why it's suitable. This will present an argument as to why elegy should be read differently. From such a position I will present some benefits for doing so, and discuss what my research has done so far in relation to modern and contemporary elegy and what are the other possibilities for research. 

Ms Wanjie Feng, 3rd Year PhD Student, English Studies 

Seneca and the Problem of the Sublime 

Senecan tragedy has often been associated with moral precautions of Senecan Stoicism, hence its poetics belongs to and abides by the Stoic Sage’s supreme doctrine: rule over oneself. However, as this paper will suggest, Senecan tragedy entails certain failure in the supposed cautionary effect, as much as Senecan Stoicism itself a flawed value system. The tragic anti-heroes can be seen as uncanny version of the Stoic Sage that Seneca creates constantly throughout his dramas and essays; both embody the classical ethic of magnanimity. The problem of the sublime does not resolve the tension between Seneca’s poetics and moral philosophy, rather, it assimilates the apathetic sage into the megalomaniac individual. 

Mr Marc Chamberlain, 2nd Year PhD Student, English Studies 


The featured poetry explores the languages of queer violence, queer love, HIV, psychoanalysis, myth and dream. The critical section of the project is concerned with US poetry of the second half of the twentieth century.  
He has a book chapter forthcoming on the queer poet John Wieners and has written on Robert Lowell for The Times Literary Supplement.