Mount Fuji granted cultural heritage status


Fuji seen from Lake Kawaguchiko (image by Midori)

As Fuji gains UNESCO World Heritage status, the Japan Times has a great article exploring the mountain’s influence on Japanese arts and culture. It covers Fuji’s role as a place of pilgrimage in seventeenth-century Japanese travel literature; the “Fuji viewing hills” built in the gardens of wealthy Edo city-dwellers; and the ukiyo-e prints of the mountain by Hokusai and other artists, exported during the late nineteenth century, which played an important role in establishing Fuji as an international symbol of Japan.

The mountain is 100 km from Tokyo and clearly visible in good weather – although nowadays you generally need to find a higher vantage point than a “Fuji viewing hill.”

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Reading Group Report: ‘Words for Remembering’: Twentieth Century Propaganda and Nineteenth-Century England


24 April 2013

Led by Kate Katigbak (Durham)

The focus of this session was to question the ways in which cultural thinkers construct definitions of ‘Britishness’ in both the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We opened the session by watching a short propaganda film made by Humphrey Jennings, entitled ‘Words for Battle’. Members were interested by its title, as it suggested that the power of the written word was influential upon concepts of nationhood and identity, especially in relation to its World War Two context. The piece aligned footage of the 1940s conflict with readings of poetry and political speeches. Such a fusion proved thought-provoking, not only in its relation of battle to the written and spoken word, but also the way that speeches by figures such as Winston Churchill seemed to usurp the place previously occupied by poetry in national consciousness.

We discussed the choices of poetry in Jennings’ film, commenting that they were linked by a theme of conflict that transcended historical timeframes. For example, William Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ lyric, reflecting on the failures of the French Revolution, and Rudyard Kipling’s poetry, lamenting the fall of the British Empire, seemed strikingly appropriate for …read more


Shakespeare at Hay … Literature and sustainability


On 23 May, Jayne, Sid and I presented our recent work on Shakespeare and sustainability at the Telegraph Hay Festival. Thanks are due to INSPIRE/ASLE-UKI, whose 2013 essay competition on the theme of literature and sustainability this research won. The event, which was great fun, was chaired by Jane Davidson, Director of INSPIRE. Adeline Johns-Putra, Chair of ASLE-UKI, joined in the panel discussion. Here’s a link to the video. Thanks to IBERS and BBSRC for Excellence with Impact support. Longer version of video with panel discussion.

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‘The Next Time(line)’: Creating a Digital Timeline for Wordsworth’s ‘Prelude’

By Catherine Redford Back in February, I published a post reflecting on time in Wordsworth’s Prelude, a topic I’d been considering in my role as Research Assistant on a project called ‘The Next Time(line)’. The aim of this project was to create a new kind of literary timeline for the digital age, using the touch-screen device to offer an interesting, compelling, and ultimately more in-depth experience for the user than a traditional print counterpart could provide.

We considered three great works of literature – Wordsworth’s Prelude, Hugo’s Les Misérables, and Shakespeare’s Henry V – over the course of the project, but for our final prototype app concentrated on Wordsworth. The timeline we produced allows the user to trace the development of The Prelude from its earliest manuscript form through to its final rewriting, with the visualisation on the screen demonstrating how the poem grows and transforms over time.

The user is able to isolate a single episode from the text and see how it changes across versions; perhaps it moves position within the body of the work, contracts, expands, or splits as the text goes through a series of rewritings. Layered over this are a series of contextual timelines which offer an …read more


Eighteenth Century Evening at Oxford Brookes University

By jf

The Cheerful Companion’: Poetry, Music
& Performance in Eighteenth-Century
Poetic Miscellanies

Oxford Brookes University Headington Hill Hall, May 21, 2013, 19.00 h

If we were able to step inside the parlours and drawing rooms of the eighteenth century, we’d find homes busy with home-made culture – book groups and tea table parties; amateur dramatics; groups of women reading and weeping their way through popular sentimental fiction, and men at punch parties singing songs about dogs.
This interactive event (1,5 hours) will explore the varied world of eighteenth-century poetic miscellanies, popular collections of verse, prose and music that were the main way in which many ordinary people consumed literature in contemporary parlours and drawing rooms.

The evening will consists of a series of short talks, readings and music, followed by an interactive session, in which participants will be able to experience an authentic sewing session of a ‘huswif’ hosted by Nicole Pohl (Oxford Brookes) – no previous experience needed!

The evening will be a unique collaboration between the Brookes Poetry Centre, and the Digital Miscellanies Index Project at the University of Oxford, supported …read more


Romantic biodiversity …

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Happy Face Spider (Theridion grallator)

Yesterday evening I spoke at Aberystwyth University’s Bioblitz. Over 200 participants spent the day, and much of the night, dashing around collecting as many specimens as they could find. It was an inspiring sight. My co-presenter, John Warren, one of the day’s organizers along with Pippa Moore, capped his amazing talk by showing slides of the Happy Face Spider, native to Hawaii. I challenge anyone to gaze on this little surfer dude and not smile.

The theme of our talk was: “What have bugs ever done for us?”. My brief was to look at the cultural dimensions. I found myself thinking about how Romantic science did much to establish modern taxonomies of the natural world, and also about ways in which Romantic poets alerted us to the wonders of what we now term biodiversity.

The history of collecting and curating biodiversity is relatively recent. Early examples are to be found in Renaissance “Cabinets of Curiosity”. A foundational volume of work was Thomas Muffet’s Theatre of Insects (1634). Systematic categorization of biodiversity, however, really gathered momentum as a Romantic enthusiasm. The most famous naturalist of the eighteenth century …read more


Fahrenheit 451 … National Library of Wales

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View from my office

Fire engine sirens continue to wail outside my office window above the National Library of Wales. By now, millions around the world will have seen the appalling pictures of the library’s roof on fire.

Fortunately, the flames have been doused, and the smoke that just an hour ago issued in thick billows from the roof has been reduced to spectre-thin coils. Attention is turning to the recovery plan. I’ve added my name to the list of hundreds of volunteers who over the next couple of days will be forming chains to pass a portion of the library’s millions of books – now under threat from the huge volumes of water moving unpredictably around the building – out of harm’s way. First trial by fire, now by water.

The sight of smoke rising in thick palls – now white, now black – from the roof of the iconic building was shocking in a way that’s perhaps difficult to imagine. Shocking, I think, not just because my profession is books, but also because libraries – and especially national ones – are cultural repositories. To judge from the magnificent response of university and NLW staff, students and members …read more


Trinity Termcard

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By jf

Dear All,
Please find the Trinity Termcard attached

Barry Hough, Bournemouth University
(Week 1) 25 April: ‘Coleridge’s Government Communications: Ethics or Calculation?’

Tom Clucas, Christ Church, Oxford
(Week 2) 2 May: ‘“Thou only bliss / Of Paradise that has survived the fall”: Domesticity from Cowper to Wordsworth’

Prof. Heather Glen, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge
(Week 3) 9 May: ‘Imagining Place: Wordsworth’s Poetry and James Clarke’s A Survey of the Lakes’

Ann-Clair Michoux, Lincoln College, Oxford
(Week 4) 16 May: ‘”Wild to buy all”: Jane Austen’s Wild English Girls and Regency Society’

Dino Felluga, Purdue University
(Week 5) 23 May: ‘Byron’s Don Juan and the Novel’

All Welcome to join us for drinks & dinner after the seminar!

Oxford Romanticism Conference, Somerville College
(Week 6) 30 May: registration to open soon!

Convenors: Judyta Frodyma (judyta.frodyma[at] and Olivia Reilly

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