We are delighted to announce the latest English Research Seminar, taking place in person on Wednesday 26 February between 2:30 and 4:30 on the University of Salford campus.
If you wish to attend as a member of the public, please contact Scott Thurston on S.Thurston@salford.ac.uk. The seminar is also available to online participants.
Abstracts and bios of our speakers:
Alicia Rouverol: ‘The Making of Dry River‘
Sara Greystone, a public defender in Raleigh, North Carolina, has taken on the Susan Holeman case, in which an African American woman is charged with assault for fighting back against her white male abuser. Sara makes the risky decision to put Susan’s children on trial in defense of their mother—resulting in deleterious effects for all. Sara and husband/IT consultant Tye Bradshaw migrate to California in 2003, where he later faces multiple job losses. Sara—caring for their two children but also her mother, Fern, who has fallen ill—keeps a tenuous hold, until she befriends designer Zeke Harris.
Inspired by the Western classic, Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose, Dry River is told one hundred and fifty years later in the age of high tech. Set in 2012, the narrative moves back in time across five different towns in North Carolina and California, charting the effects of Sara’s court case, and the decline of her marriage alongside a declining US economy.
Dr Alicia J Rouverol is a novelist and Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Salford. She researches in contemporary fiction (UK and US), women’s experimental writing and globalisation and is most interested in forms of fiction that articulate the economic present. Her first co-authored book, ‘I Was Content and Not Content’: The Story of Linda Lord and the Closing of Penobscot Poultry, chronicled one working woman’s experience of plant closure, examining issues of the local and global through a hybrid construct. Leaves of Magnolia, another hybrid work in process, is based on a three-year project in which she used story with inmates at a US correctional facility to create a performance for at-risk youth. Her fiction, nonfiction, reviews and poetry have appeared in streetcake, Cicatrice, The Manchester Review, Route 57, The Wandering Bard, The Puckerbrush Review, Dandelion Review, Island Journal, extimacy, The Independent, The Monitor and The Manchester Anthology. Dry River, her first novel, is due out from Chapeltown Books in May 2023.
Sanja Nivesjö: ‘Solidarity and Gender in Protest Novels: Bessie Head’s The Cardinals and Miriam Tlali’s Muriel at Metropolitan‘
This paper argues for the value of reading South African authors’ Bessie Head’s The Cardinals (1960-2/1993) and Miriam Tlali’s Muriel at Metropolitan (1975) through the concept of solidarity in relation to gender. Both novels depict a black female protagonist’s experiences of being the only black woman at their white-collar workplace during apartheid. I examine how these novels portray the effect of gender on the construction and maintenance of alliances and communities in a workplace and social life structured by apartheid. The two novels particularly prompt an analysis of how gender factors into solidarities built on racial alliances, such as black solidarity against apartheid. Head and Tlali’s imaginings of community-building force the reader to consider the place of gender in relation to both collectives of solidarities and to anti-apartheid protest, and by doing this the novels trigger a rethinking of what anti-apartheid protest writing was and could be.
Dr Sanja Nivesjö is a Swedish Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Salford and Uppsala University, Sweden. Her postdoc project concerns representations of interracial love in Southern African literature, and a collaborative project with Swedish literature scholars investigates solidarity in relation to gender in African literature. She has previously worked on the intersection of space and sexuality in South African literature. She has edited a special issue with Journal of Commonwealth Literature and published articles on the South African feminist writer Olive Schreiner.