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On Thurs 27th April, Dr. David Ibitson will present a paper entitled ‘ “My friends have been making me take up golf”: golf and the construction of masculinity in the ghost stories of M.R. James’. Refreshments will be served at 5pm and the paper will start at 5.15pm. We are in room MB3202 in the Minerva Building.

advice to caddies

Please find David’s abstract and biography below:

This paper will look at how the ghost stories of M.R. James engage with fin de siècle concerns about masculinity.  Taking the references to golf as its focus, it investigates how these texts parody and critique ideals of Victorian manliness, highlighting a comic irony often overlooked in criticism of James’s work.

Golf’s uncertain status as a masculine activity will be shown to highlight the problematic masculine status of his protagonists as they undergo processes of enervation and infantilisation. This ambiguous manliness will then be situated in the context of contemporary urban escape programmes for young boys, illustrated by both the Boys’ Brigade and Boy Scout movements, as well as key examples of popular boy’s own adventure literature.

In acquiescing to social pressures which promote the playing of sport as a vital part of manly development, James’s protagonists evoke these social and literary source texts. Yet, their questionable masculinity, rather than merely working to utilise the men as comic currency, has the effect of resisting a muscular masculinity. In turn, the militarism of these organisations will be shown to allow James’s stories to function as attacks on popular conceptions of Imperial heroism.

James is revealed to be actively participating in contemporary discourses about nation, Empire, and masculine fitness, acting upon social and literary parodic targets as a sporting Gothic burlesque of ideas of gender and heroism.



David gained his PhD in English Literature from the University of Leeds, with his thesis focusing on parody, depictions of Empire, and ideas of authorship in the works of the writer Jerome K. Jerome. His research interests are in Victorian and Edwardian popular culture, New Humour, adventure fiction, and literary depictions of office work. He has published on Jerome K. Jerome, Victorian popular music, urban exploration, and urban escape programmes. He is currently Subject Lead in English at the University Centre at North Lindsey College.


On Thursday 30th March, Emma Butcher (Hull) will be talking to us on ‘Children Writing War in the Nineteenth Century’. Refreshments will be served at 5pm, with the paper to start at quarter past. We are in room MB3202 (Minevra Building).



Please find Emma’s abstract below:

The focus on children and war throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century is integral to our understanding of war’s brutalities and its wider cultural impact. Currently, the media’s fixation on suffering children in the wake of the recent Syria crisis is central to our engagement with military issues that may not have otherwise affected the British public. Going back, the most famous child writer of the twentieth century, Anne Frank, still remains a significant example of how the world can conceptualise the horrors of war through one child’s voice.

This paper will expand the field of ‘children and war’ by focusing on the child writer and reader in the long nineteenth century. A number of British literature’s most famous Victorian writers, such as the Brontës and George Eliot, wrote war literature in their childhood. They consumed periodicals, recorded information and invented stories that sought to process military events of the contemporary age, which ranged from the Napoleonic Wars up until the Boer War. By introducing the stories, letters and diaries of children, I will seek to introduce the child’s perspective as an important alternative history of war.Biography

Emma Butcher is an AHRC-funded Ph.D researcher at the University of Hull, working on the The Brontës and war. She is one of the BBC’s ‘Next Generation Thinkers’. In 2015, she co-curated a major exhibition at the Brontë Parsonage. She has written for The Guardian and also appeared in the BBC2 documentary Being the Brontës.


Thursday 9th March, MB3202, 5-6.30pm (paper begins at 5.15pm)

Dr Constance Bantman (University of Surrey)

‘Jean Grave and French Anarchism (1870s-1930s): A Reassessment’.



“Les Temps Nouveaux? It was Grave’s paper, and that’s all one needs to know”.

This talk will propose a biographical approach to the study of anarchist activism, applied to one of the most influential figures in the French and international anarchist movement between the late 1870s and the First World War: the activist Jean Grave (1854-1939). Adopting a relational approach delineating Grave’s formal and informal connections, it focuses on the role of print in this relational activism, through the three papers which Grave edited between 1883 and 1914, Le Revolte, La Revolte and Les Temps Nouveaux. It also highlights Grave’s transnational entanglements and links with progressive circles in France. This, in turn, provides a basis to reassess the nature and functioning of the French anarchist movement during its “heroic period”, by stressing its transnational ramifications and inclusion in progressive campaigns and punctual coalitions. As Grave’s life and militant career are so closely bound with the Paris area, this inquiry also offers a fascinating portrait of a highly prolific, yet largely ‘immobile’ transnationalist.

This Thursday, Dr. Alice Crossley (Lincoln) will be talking to us about Victorian Valentines. The session will begin with refreshments at 5pm, with the paper itself due to start at 5.15pm. We will be in room MB3202.


‘Love and Things: Victorian Valentines’

Although we might think of it as a very recent custom, the tradition of sending a valentines card each year on 14th February became popular in the nineteenth century. This paper will begin by providing a brief history of valentines, with an emphasis on the nineteenth century when such cards came in various forms: pretty and sentimental, witty and playful, or vulgar and crude. Each type will be explored, illustrated by a wealth of examples to encapsulate the imagery, trace the thematic trends, and to showcase the different categories of Victorian valentine.

This paper will explore some of the ways that these objects signify, in part through an analysis of their representation in literary texts. This will include discussion of a sustained fascination with valentines cards in the Victorian press, as well as the use of valentines in fiction by Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy. It will consider how valentines function symbolically to encapsulate an emotional bond, but also how viewing them as a simple gesture of love or courtship flattens and simplifies their role in Victorian culture.


Alice Crossley is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature in the College of Arts, specialising in nineteenth-century literature and culture. She joined the department in 2016. Her research focuses on masculinity and representations of adolescence in the Victorian novel, as well as nineteenth-century valentines.


Events Programme, 2016-17 Semester B


  • 9th February – Alice Crossley (Lincoln): ‘Love and Things: Victorian Valentines’



  • 9th March – Constance Bantman (Surrey): ‘Jean Grave and French Anarchism (1870s-1930s): A Reassessment’



  • 30th March – Emma Butcher (Hull): ‘Children Writing War in the Nineteenth Century’



  • 27th April – David Ibitson (North Lindsey College): “My friends have been making me take up golf: golf and the construction of masculinity in the ghost stories of M.R. James’


All meetings take place in MB3202. Refreshments will be served at 5pm and the session will begin at 5.15pm. Please follow us on twitter (@19thCLincoln).

C19 Poster, 2016-17, Semester B-page-001

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