'Dream Team' to compile The Oxford Literary History of Wales

13 June 2007

Dr Damian Walford Davies
Dr Damian Walford Davies
Wednesday 13 June, 2007
‘Dream Team' to compile The Oxford Literary History of Wales
Dr Damian Walford Davies from the Department of English at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth has been appointed General Editor for The Oxford Literary History of Wales (OHLW) which has been commissioned by Oxford University Press.

Dr Walford Davies has assembled a ‘dream team' of scholars from The University of Wales, Aberystwyth, The University of Wales, Bangor, Cardiff University, The University of Glamorgan and Swansea University to produce the four-volume work.

The four volumes and authors are:
1. Welsh Literature in Welsh, from its beginnings to c. 1740.
Authors: Jerry Hunter (Bangor) and Dylan Foster Evans (Cardiff).

2. Welsh Literature in Welsh, c. 1740–2006.
Author: T Robin Chapman (Aberystwyth).

3. Welsh Writing in English, 1536–1914,
Authors: Jane Aaron (Glamorgan) and Sarah Prescott (Aberystwyth).

4, Welsh Writing in English, 1914–2006.
Authors: Damian Walford Davies (Aberystwyth) and Daniel G. Williams (Swansea).

According to Dr Walford Davies, this is a project of major cultural significance that will bring the two literatures of Wales, considered in a radically new light, to the attention of an international audience. It also represents an important – and timely – collaboration between academic institutions in Wales.

“The OLHW represents a significant opportunity to reassess the two literary traditions of Wales from the sixth century to the present. It sets out to offer authoritative, incisive and dissenting perspectives. Lively and opinionated, these four volumes will challenge orthodoxies and propose alternative literary histories so that vital new portraits of literary production and of its social, cultural and political contexts can emerge. In its critical/historical method and approach, the OLHW rejects the dogmatic and monolithic; a spirit of plurality and salutary scepticism is embraced. The project’s ethos is revisionist, but its coverage will be comprehensive and authoritative,” he said.

“The politics of identity and the energising tension between the claims of separateness and assimilation, continuity and reinvention, ‘margin’ and metropolitan centre necessarily inform the discussion throughout. In what sense has writing from Wales ‘spoken for’ the Welsh people, and what images of national and cultural difference has it made available? What has been the relation of Welsh authors in both languages to centres of cultural, political and literary ‘power’? How have these two literatures positioned Wales and the Welsh subject in relation to a dominant neighbour and to Europe, America and the rest of the world? How have these literatures reflected social and political change?”

“By addressing such questions, the OLHW offers a vital new map of two literatures whose very existence challenges our preconceptions regarding the relationship between language, nationhood and identity,” he added.

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