Fame and Shame!

Michaelmas Term 2017 at Wolfson College
(All events are free of charge and open to all unless otherwise stated)



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Tuesday 17 October 5:30 – 7pm, Darwin’s Beard – and other adventures in Victorian facial hair, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
When Victorian men started growing their beards from the 1850s, what exactly did they think they were doing? More importantly who were they doing it for? In this illustrated talk, Kathryn Hughes, author of Victorians Undone, discusses the politics of facial hair in the nineteenth century and reveals the surprising stories of the men and women behind some of the period’s best known beards.

Kathryn Hughes is Professor of Life Writing at the University of East Anglia and a contracted writer for the Guardian newspaper.  She has written prize-winning biographies of George Eliot and Mrs Beeton.  Her most recent book is Victorians Undone, a study of five famous Victorians’ body parts.

Wednesday 25th October 5.30 – 7pm, Tennyson, Celebrity and Portraiture, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
This lecture, the first of our Lives and Letters strand, will explore how publishers became responsible for promoting authors through portraiture in the mid-Victorian period. In particular it will focus on Edward Moxon and his role in expanding the readership of both William Wordsworth and Alfred Tennyson. While portraits of Wordsworth were relatively scarce, Tennyson was surrounded by sculptors, painters and photographers, which led to a new and disturbing experience of literary celebrity that had a major impact on his career.

Jim Cheshire is Reader in Cultural History at the University of Lincoln. His research examines the literary and visual culture of the nineteenth century and thematically is centred on Victorian medievalism. He has recently been working on the relationship between the literary and material culture surrounding the career of Alfred Tennyson. Several related publications discuss the importance of the physical form and visual appearance of Tennyson’s poetry and how this might have influenced the way that his poetry was read. He recently published a monograph about Edward Moxon (Tennyson’s publisher) and his impact on Victorian poetry.

Wednesday 1 November 5:30 – 7pm, No-one lies like an eye witness: uncovering truths in fact and fiction, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
Writers don’t actually make anything up.  All their ideas are borrowed from somewhere or someone.  They inevitably mine their own lives and the lives of other people for ideas, inspiration and concrete details.  But does anyone have the right to tell any story?  What are the writer’s responsibilities when laying bare his / her own life – or the lives of others?  Fact and fiction may be blurred but are there boundaries which should never be crossed?

Alice Jolly published a memoir in 2015 called Dead Babies And Seaside Towns, which won the Pen / Ackerley Award. One of her short stories won the 2014 V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize, awarded by The Royal Society of Literature. She has also published two novels with Simon and Schuster and four of her plays have been produced by the professional company of the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. She teaches creative writing on the Mst at Oxford University and will soon be publishing her third novel Between The Regions Of Kindness with Unbound in March 2018.

Saturday 4 November 2 – 6pm, Life-writing and Female Celebrity, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
Part of OCLW’s Life-Writing and Celebrity strand, this half-day colloquium, convened by Sandra Mayer in collaboration with TORCH Oxford,  will explore the gendered dynamics and cultural values at work in the creation, representation, and consumption of celebrity. Featuring a keynote lecture by author Patricia Duncker and contributions by Stella Tillyard, Ruth Scobie, Mary Luckhurst, Oline Eaton, and Hannah Yelin.

To view the colloquium programme, please click here.
To view the poster, please click here.

Tuesday 7 November 5:30 – 7pm, Ghostwriting and Biography, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
This panel brings together writers and scholars to consider the implications of ghostwriting in the context of biographical and novelistic practice, publishing, and the media industries. Author and critic Andrew O’Hagan will speak about his new book, The Secret Life, which partly recounts his experience of being commissioned to ghostwrite Julian Assange’s autobiography. He will be joined by Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, and biographer and psychotherapist Brett Kahr, author of the ‘posthumous interviews’ Tea with Winnicott and Coffee with Freud.

Tuesday 14 November 1 – 2pm, Life-Writing Lunch, Haldane Room
The contemporary market for the consumption of real lives has led to an increasing demand for performers to play or impersonate real people. In this presentation, Professor Mary Luckhurst will explore the ethical issues inherent in the staging of real lives.

Mary Luckhurst is Professor of Artistic Research and Creative Practice at the University of Melbourne. She is a theatre director, writer, theatre historian and a pioneer of practice as research. She is a world expert on dramaturgy and on analysing and articulating the applied processes writing, acting and directing in theatre-making. She is a specialist in modern drama and her many books include Dramaturgy: A Revolution in Theatre; On Acting; On Directing; Theatre and Celebrity, and Playing for Real, as well as two Blackwells Companions on British and Irish Theatre.

The event is free, but booking is essential:

Reserve your place

Tuesday 21 November 5:30 – 7pm, Lives and Letters, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
This discussion centres on an understanding and appreciation of letters as repositories of complex meaning, creating unique possibilities that weave together the textual, visual, material, biographical, and cultural. With three distinguished Professors of English Literature from the Universities of Oxford and York: Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Matt Bevis, and Hugh Haughton.

Tuesday 28 November 5:30 – 7pm, OCLW doctoral students panel, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
This panel brings together four OCLW doctoral students to discuss their work in the area of life-writing.

  • Alexis Brown: “The Author on Film: Life-Writing in the Cinema”
  • Bárbara Gallego Larrarte: “Intergenerational Relationships within the Literary Circles of Britain and America in the Interwar Years”
  • Lyndsey Jenkins: “From Mills to Militants: The Kenney Sisters and the Suffragettes”
  • Nanette O’Brien: “Food in Anglo-American Modernism”

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