Centre for Cultures of Place

Places are locations invested with human meaning: a house or city, a field or forest, a road or shopping mall. They are where we live and work, leave or return to, play and learn and grow. In particular, places have long been important to artists and writers, filmmakers and performers because it is in places that nature and culture, matter and imagination meet.

The Centre for Cultures of Place is a forum for interdisciplinary research on the cultural meanings of place. Our aim is to explore how such meanings are articulated or contested in all forms of cultural expression, including literature, drama, film, photography, painting, and performance. Equally, we investigate the specific kinds of experience and knowledge of places that culture affords. The Centre brings together scholars and practitioners in the arts, humanities, and social sciences to share ideas, collaborate, and develop new research initiatives.

Within its broad remit, the Centre facilitates and promotes research in three key fields:

Cultures of place in Wales: Research into cultural representations of places in Wales, in Cymraeg and English, in various media from the medieval to the modern periods. Particular emphasis will be placed upon documenting the social, cultural, political, and topographical diversity of Wales as it has been articulated by artists, filmmakers, and writers.

Borderlands: Critical and creative engagements with margins and peripheries, edgelands and borders within an international context. What does it mean to occupy a place on the margins of a culture or society? How might such a place be regarded as either problematic or charged with potential? And how have cultural understandings of such borderlands changed over time?

Ideas of place: Wide-ranging, interdisciplinary research into the ways in which ideas of place have been constructed and contested within literature, culture, and the arts. Projects that seek to historicise the very concept of ‘place’, showing how it varies from one period to another, and in different cultural contexts, will be warmly encouraged. As will explorations of specifically Welsh conceptions of place, such as ‘bro’, ‘cynefin’, and ‘gwlad’.

Although Aberystwyth is on the physical and socio-economic margins of Britain, it occupies a place at the heart of Welsh cultural life and reaches out, from its position between land and sea, to a range of other places and cultures. It is a hub, a meeting place connecting people, places, and things within wider relays of exchange and encounter. As such, it is the ideal location for the Centre for Cultures of Place, which seeks to develop projects that draw upon the unique cultural and geographical identities of this part of west Wales, but also to explore the cultural significance of other places within a context that is at once local and global.

 

Events

'You Are Here' - this evening event was designed to allow us to share ideas concerning the culture, identity, community and history of Aberystwyth and its environs, and to think about ‘locatedness’ in contemporary West Wales (in a global context). Round Studio, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wednesday 19th November 2014.

 

Staff 

Dr Paul Newland, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies

Director of the Centre for Cultures of Place

Paul’s main areas of research are British film history, the representation of space, place, location, territory and architecture on film, and film sound and music. He has published widely on British cinema in the 1970s, including British Films of the 1970s (Manchester University Press, 2013) and the edited collection Don’t Look Now: British Cinema in the 1970s (Intellect, 2010). Published work on the representation of space and place on film includes The Cultural Construction of London’s East End (Rodopi, 2008) and the edited collection British Rural Landscapes on Film (Manchester University Press, 2015). Current projects include a co-edited book on British art cinema, work on the function of the voice-over in film, and further work on film and television music, architecture and spatiality.     

 

Dr Neal Alexander, English and Creative Writing

Deputy Director of the Centre for Cultures of Place

My main research interests lie in the developing field of literary geographies and are focused upon twentieth- and twenty-first-century writing from Britain and Ireland. I’m fascinated by the ways in which literary texts respond creatively to the social, political, and affective aspects of space and place, and by the peculiarly rich geographical imaginations that proliferate in modern and contemporary writing. I’m also interested in thinking through the implications of the so-called ‘spatial turn’ in the humanities and social sciences for the practice of literary criticism. As a result, much of my research is cross-disciplinary, drawing upon ideas in cultural geography, spatial theory, urbanism, and architecture, as well as literary studies. One of the products of this research is my monograph, Ciaran Carson: Space, Place, Writing (LUP, 2010), the first such study of one of Ireland’s most inventive and challenging writers. More recently, I have also co-edited two collections of essays: with David Cooper, Poetry & Geography: Space and Place in Post-war Poetry (LUP, 2013); and, with James Moran, Regional Modernisms (EUP, 2013). I’m currently at work on a book-length study of contemporary literary geographies, and I am a member of the editorial collective for a new e-journal, Literary Geographies: http://www.literarygeographies.net/

I also have longstanding interests in the Anglophone literatures of Ireland and Wales, and in the relationships between them. I have published widely on contemporary poetry and fiction from Northern Ireland, and on representations of Belfast in particular. I’ve also written on W.B. Yeats and R.S. Thomas, the ecological poetics of Michael Longley and Robert Minhinnick, and on contemporary poetry in Wales. A more recent strand of my research considers the representation of everyday life in literature, with particular reference to texts by contemporary British novelists such as Jon McGregor, James Kelman, Ali Smith, and Tom McCarthy.

 

Dr Greg Bevan, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies

Greg is a practice-based researcher and experimental documentary maker. Much of his practice is semi-autobiographical, investigating new forms of production to explore literal and psychological places. In 2010, Greg produced a 10-minute video exploring tensions between authorial voice, memory and location in the South Wales valleys town, Merthyr Tydfil. The film, Walking Around is No Excuse for Bad Books, resulted in an article in the Journal of Media Practice (Vol 12 No 3). 

Greg is currently collaborating with Merthyr-based production company AOTV with a view to hosting a large-scale experimental film exhibition and installation in the town in the summer of 2015. Also in cooperation with the HTV Wales archive at the National Library of Wales, the proposed research project seeks to remix and recontextualise audio-visual materials to create new, original cultural artefacts which explore perceptions of local history and identity.

 

Professor Peter Barry, Department of English and Creative Writing

Peter's main research interests are in twentieth and twenty first century literature (especially modern and contemporary poetry) and literary theory, with additional interests in Romanticism and the short story. He is also interested in the theory and practice of teaching English literature and literary theory: for a sample article ‘Tackling Textuality – with Theory’.

 

Dr Andrew Filmer, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies

My research interests focus broadly on issues of place, space, location and spectatorship in contemporary theatre and performance, especially the dramaturgical logics and spectatorial practices inherent in site-specific performance and the multiple sites of encounter between between performance and architecture. Previously my research has focussed on theatre architecture, examining performers’ experiences of the backstage spaces of theatre buildings. Currently I am developing a research project exploring the performance of running. 

 

Dr Gabor Gelleri, Department of European Languages

French travel and travel-related literature; the relationship between France and the British Isles; Voltaire; Montesquieu; early French journalism; Ancien Régime writing and reading practices; pre-1945 French history; Literature and Historiography.

 

Dr Andrea Hammel, Department of European Languages

The modern German Novel; Women’s Writing; the history and culture of German-speaking refugees to Britain, especially the period of 1933-1950 and the Kindertransport; German-Jewish history and literature; Exile literature; Holocaust Writing and Translation; Autobiography.

 

Sarah Penrhyn Jones, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies

How do the dynamics of voice and power play out in traditional and 'new' media? I critique established media communication norms, and test alternatives in my own work (filmmaking). My practice-based research is politically committed to the ideal of social justice, and I examine and promote communication in aid of civic values. Areas of interest (and experience) include activist, participatory, and community filmmaking. I collaborate outside my own field, and have worked with climate-scientist, theatre directors, NGOs, charities, public organisations, authors, publishers and broadcasters on various art and communication projects. I'm part of a group of ten academics currently exploring 'Hydrocitizenship', communities' relationship with water, using arts-based means (under the AHRC's Connected Communities programme). I will be co-managing the case study in Borth and Tal-y-bont with Alex Plows (Bangor University). Owain Jones (Gloucester University) is directing the research as PI. This three-year project connects with my broader- and driving- interest in climate change communication.

 

Dr Roger Owen, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies

History of Welsh-language Theatre and Drama

Performance and Rural Community

 

Dr Martin Padget, Department of English and Creative Writing

Martin has a range of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research interests in American and British subject matter. His book Indian Country: Travels in the American Southwest, 1840-1935 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004) examines the works of Anglo writers and artists who encountered Native Americans in the course of their travels in the Southwest beginning from the decade of the US-Mexico War. The book addresses two topics: how the Southwest emerged as a distinctive region of the United States in the minds of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Americans, and what impact these conceptions, and the growing presence of Anglos, had on Indians in the region. Martin is following up this interest in American Indian subject matter by writing The Cambridge Introduction to Native American Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming), which is designed to provide an incisive interpretation of the full range of native literary expression, including chapters on the oral tradition, nineteenth-century life histories, poetry, contemporary fiction, and native film and drama. He is also the co-author (with Maria Lauret, Candida Hepworth and Helena Grice) of Beginning Ethnic American Literatures (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001) and the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters on American literature, history and photography.The first article that Martin published, in the journal College Literature, examined photographic imagery of the Highlands and islands of Scotland in the late nineteenth century. He has returned to this research interest in his book Photographers of the Western Isles (Edinburgh: John Donald, 2010), which examines why and how photographers were draw to these fascinating islands from the mid nineteenth century onward. The book features the work of photographers such as Captain F.W.L. Thomas of the Admiralty Survey, who created the first images of St Kilda in 1860, George Washington Wilson, whose topographical images of the Highlands and Islands formed an integral part of a photographic business that developed a worldwide reach during the nineteenth century, and Paul Strand who visited South Uist in 1954 to create a series of powerful portraits and landscape views for his book Tir a’ Mhurain.

 

Professor Sarah Prescott, Department of English and Creative Writing    

Sarah's main research has received external funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy and most recently the Leverhulme Trust, see below.  Her main research interests are in the area of eighteenth-century studies and include women’s poetry and fiction, pre-1800 Welsh writing in English, women's writing and Wales, authorship, feminist literary history and provincial literary culture.

Her current research interest is pre-1800 Welsh writing in English, particularly women's writing.  Her book on this topic Eighteenth-Century Writing from Wales: Bards and Britons was a runner-up for the 2009 Roland Mathias Prize for Welsh Writing in English.  In December 2011 Sarah was awarded £248,395 by The Leverhulme Trust for a three-year Research Project Grant on ‘Women’s Poetry 1400-1800 in English, Irish, Scots, Scots Gaelic and Welsh’. The study will provide a major new literary history of women's poetry in Ireland, Scotland and Wales from 1400 to 1800, covering poetry in Welsh, Gaelic, Scots, Scots Gaelic, Ulster Scots and English through a fully edited anthology with translations and an accompanying critical study. As Principal Applicant, Sarah will be working with fellow scholars Dr Sarah Dunnigan at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Marie-Louise Coolahan at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Dr Cathryn Charnell-White at the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth and a further Research Assistant on Scots Gaelic appointed in 2012. The project started in February 2013.

 

Professor Heike Roms, Deparment of Theatre, Film and Television Studies

I am currently completing a monograph entitled When Yoko Ono did not come to Wales: Locating the History of Performance Art. The book emerges from my AHRC-funded research project, “‘It was forty years ago today…’ - Locating the early history of performance art in Wales 1965-1979” [http://
www.performance-wales.org]

My research interests include:

  • Histories of performance art (especially in Wales and the UK generally)
  • Performance, archiving, documentation and historiography
  • Disciplinary histories and genealogies of performance studies
  • Teaching the avant-garde – Performance’s pedagogical histories
  • Performance and ecology; performance, landscape and environment

 

Dr Bruno Sibona, Deparment of European Langauges

French poetry 16th, 17th, 19th and 20th century; Comparative Literature; Victor Hugo; Eugène Savitzkaya; Literature and Animality; Literature and Anthropology.

 

Dr Luke Thurston, Department of English and Creative Writing

Director of the David Jones Centre

Main research interests are in modernism, literary ghosts, literature and war and Welsh writing in English. Luke is currently working on a study of modernism, war and testimony in Wyndham Lewis, May Sinclair and David Jones.

Research interests are the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. Luke has translated works by Jean Laplanche, André Green and Roberto Harari, and he is on the Editorial Board of the Journal for Lacanian Studies.

In 2010 Luke took part in a film about Joyce, psychoanalysis and Trieste, made by an Italian television company. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl4zk3UmV54

 

Professor Richard Marggraf Turley, Department of English and Creative Writing

Professor Richard Marggraf Turley’s interdisciplinary work on food and agricultural space in English literature may be found in Food and the Literary Imagination (2014), co-authored with Jayne Archer and Howard Thomas. His recent interest lies with surveilled spaces in both the Romantic period and our own. He maintains a blog on Romantic topics http://richardmarggrafturley.weebly.com/blog, and a Twitter account: @RMarggrafTurley. He would welcome PhD students in Romanticism, as well as in literature and surveillance more widely.

 

Dr Kate Woodward, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies

Kate’s current and ongoing areas of research focus on Welsh film (both Welsh and English language), Welsh film history, contemporary Welsh film, cultural policy and cultural institutions including S4C and the Arts Council of Wales. Current projects include an exploration of Marc Evans’ transnational and trilingual film, Patagonia (2010), landscape and the concept of the border in On the Black Hill (1987), and cultural policy since devolution.