Summary: PGR Research-in-Progress Seminar

On Wednesday 29th March GLRC held its annual PGR research-in-progress seminar. Three PGR students presented their work including; Eleanor Dumbill (English), Eva Lippold (English) and Hannah Newman (Social Sciences).

The first speaker, Eleanor outlined her aim to explore the relationships between nineteenth-century women writers and their male publishers. Eleanor explained how George Eliot, despite being well-respected had to prove her ability on multiple occasions to the men in her life who doubted her ability. Eleanor contrasted Eliot to Frances Milton Trollope and Frances Eleanor Trollope who, though successful in their lifetimes, have been forgotten by modern criticism. Eleanor drew on the two Frances Trollopes close relation to Anthony Trollope, and Frances Eleanor’s relation to Dickens, to further highlight the importance of networks. Eleanor’s work aims to use Pierre Bourdieu’s theories theoretical framework to understand the capital of the writers, asking questions such as how one writer has more social/economical/cultural/symbolic capital than others. Eleanor concluded her presentation by asking; if everything were judged on merit, would Anthony Trollope be Britain’s best loved Trollope?

Eva’s thesis explores women in the theatre, focusing on comedies at the London Theatre during 1760-1800.Eva’s research questions ask what it was like for a woman to work in the theatre and how these women were perceived as women had changed career paths to focus on poetry because of their negative experiences. It was identified that women playwrights used political issues, such as slavery, to explain marriage and drew parallels between slavery and women being sold in markets. Eva’s focus on comedy meant she had identified that women tended to write about domestic issues and it was easier for playwrights to use political issues as they could be disregarded as jokes in comedy.

Our final presenter was Hannah from Social Sciences. Her work explores female strength and power using an ethnographic approach of the sport Strongwoman. Hannah outlined that existing literature identifies sport being traditionally dominated by men, however there has been an increase in women weight lifting and weight training due to more Olympic role models, the rise of social media and an international focus on health. However there remains a dearth of research about Strongwoman. Hannah seeks to explore the subculture of the sport of Strongwoman through ethnography and auto ethnography, using her own experiences. Hannah read two of her diary entries about her recent experience of a Strongwoman competition, sparking questions and discussion from the audience. Comments included; the ethics of an auto ethnographic approach and the difficulty in defining the balance between exercise and health?

Thank you to all of the speakers.