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Swansea University is Awarded Major Funding for Research in the Arts and Humanities

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded more than £150,000 to four research projects within Swansea University’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities.

 Dr David Turner has been awarded an AHRC Research fellowship to explore the ways in which physical impairment was defined, understood and discussed in England between 1660 and 1830. The project entitled Imagining Disability in the Long Eighteenth Century will analyse cultural representations of disability alongside the testimonies of disabled people themselves.

 Dr Turner will use the research funding to write a book for Routledge that will analyse cultural representations of disability alongside personal testimonials from disabled people using a wide range of sources from sermons and medical texts to jokes, newspapers and prints. The research will challenge dominant historical assumptions (using religious models and medical understanding) about the period as one which witnessed a transformation of perceptions of disability. 

 The research will also contribute to debates about disability today. Current political debates about entitlement to incapacity and disability benefits have a long history, and Dr Turner is examining how disability was evaluated in the past, exploring in particular the question of what - and who - defined a particular condition as ‘disabling’. The award contributes to Swansea University’s growing reputation as a centre for research in Health, History and Culture in general and Disability History in particular.

 Professor Caroline Franklin has been awarded funds by the AHRC Research Networking Scheme to support a two-year project to facilitate the transcription and electronic publication of the correspondence of Elizabeth Montagu. Montagu, ‘the queen of the Bluestockings’, was an eighteenth-century woman of letters and patron of the arts who corresponded with all the leading figures of the day in literature, theatre, economics, politics, art and architecture. Her salon was particularly significant for fostering female intellectuals. The 7000 manuscript letters are already a vital resource for scholars across a wide range of disciplines, but electronic publication would make them widely available for the first time. 

 The project brings together expertise from Swansea University, King’s College London and Oxford Brookes. Swansea University is the venue for the first of the network's four conferences, the plenary to be given by Professor Felicity Nussbaum (UCLA), and followed by a Public lecture on 'Bluestocking Businesswomen' in conjunction with the Swansea Historical Association. The Lecture will be held at the Waterfront Museum on Saturday 4 June, 11am and all are welcome to attend.

 Dr Joy Porter has been awarded an AHRC Research Fellowship to create the first book to make serious, conceptual arguments about Native American identity on both sides of the Atlantic during and after the First World War.  She is to explore new archives in Canada, Texas and the UK to unearth the key role a Native American veteran played within the Bloomsbury set, the elite literary group that spearheaded the modernist movement at the beginning of the twentieth century.

 Dr Porter's work explores how a Native American veteran, who was published by Virginia Woolf and seduced by Siegfried Sassoon, symbolised a way of thinking about race that became central to the intellectual life of the next century. The letters and correspondence that will be brought to public attention will shine new light on some of the foremost scientists, writers, philosophers and artists of our times.  

 Dr Porter's research will be published by The University of Toronto Press and it will also be exhibited in a series of native and non-native museums in the United States including the Six Nations Indian Museum, New York and the Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. This work advances Swansea's established reputation as a centre for American Studies, offering the largest range of exchange opportunities with U.S. partner universities of any university in the country and it positions Swansea as one of the strongest places in the country to study Native American Indian history and literature at M.A. and PhD level (either as a part-time, overseas or full-time student).

 And the Swansea University Postgraduate History Forum, convened by third-year History PhD candidates Simon John and Tom Underwood, has been awarded an AHRC Collaborative Research Training Public Engagement grant to stage a one-day event for postgraduate historians from across Wales on 8 April 2011 entitled ‘History and the Public.’

  Expert speakers with backgrounds in heritage, public policy, and popular media will discuss the role that historical research plays in their work.  This event will provide an opportunity for scholars to learn how they can best maximise the impact of their research.

 The Director of the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH), Professor Chris Williams, said. “Our warmest congratulations go to those individuals whose heavy investments in time and industry have paid off so rewardingly.

 “One of the reasons that RIAH was created a year ago was to support colleagues in the Arts and Humanities to increase grant capture, the challenge now is to maintain the momentum these awards have created. These projects are scholarly, but also seek to engage with audiences beyond the University. Everyone is invited to attend the Bluestocking Businesswomen lecture and the History and the Public forum will help historians maximise the community impact of their research. Earlier in the year we launched the new Richard Burton Centre and archives and this was marked with a public lecture. It is our ambition to continue to produce quality research but also increase the frequency of these kinds of public engagements.”

RIAH was set up a year ago to bring together researchers and postgraduates across the College of Arts and Humanities to create a rich research environment geared to excellence and making an impact.  Supporting areas of research strength across the College, the Institute provides an interface between researchers, external partners, industry and the public. Key activities include the RIAH Public Lecture series, partnerships with other Colleges and research groups in the University, and support for individual researchers and teams applying for external grants. RIAH also make connections with external partners through knowledge transfer projects, consultancies, collaborative doctoral awards and our External Advisory Board.

For more information on any of the public events, please contact RIAH:

T: +44 (0)1792 295190
E: riah@swansea.ac.uk


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