International conference dedicated to Swansea professor’s work
One of Britain's most prominent literary theorists and critics was the subject of a recent conference dedicated to her work.
Professor Catherine Belsey is a research professor in the University’s School of Arts, Department of English. A devoted and talented teacher, she has not confined herself to holding postgraduate research seminars, but has also given inspiring lectures to undergraduates. She is interested in the relationship between people and their cultures and her work analyses the link between language and cultural context.
Professor Belsey explains: “For example, when we acquire our native language, we take on certain cultural meanings. We learn what represents good and bad. Mother, for instance, is a word that has positive, reassuring connotations, even if your own experience differs from the cultural norm. It is the power of language to shape our understanding of the world that interests me.”
The Sixth Ghent Conference on Literary Theory, entitled Literature and Culture:
The Work of Catherine Belsey, took place on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 September. A range of distinguished scholars, including Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Alan Sinfield and Indira Ghose, discussed different aspects of Professor Belsey’s work, and Professor Belsey also gave the final keynote lecture of the conference.
Speaking about having a conference dedicated to her work, Professor Belsey said: “It is a great honour but also a pleasure. Many of the people participating in the conference are colleagues whom I have worked with or been influenced by.
“This is a chance to assess the current state of criticism internationally, and from a shared perspective. We have worked over the years to make a difference to the critical agenda and it will be exciting to discuss the distance we've travelled and the possibilities for the future.
“I have always been critical in, I hope, a positive way of the prevailing orthodoxies in the discipline of English. My first book, Critical Practice was very controversial when it was published in 1980, but has now become orthodox in its turn. I like to speculate and I belong to a generation when that was still an option.
“Nowadays, I feel that speculation is discouraged in favour of safe publishing. My next book will propose a future for cultural criticism that differs in a number of ways from its past. Controversy tends to attract interest, even if there is less of it about now than there used to be.”
For further information about the conference, please visit http://www.nederlandseliteratuur.ugent.be/belsey. Further information on studying English at Swansea can be found on the School of Arts webpages.