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Centres and Programmes:
Literary and Cultural Theory
The 2004-05 academic year witnessed the appointment of six new permanent staff whose arrival has consolidated and diversified the Department's existing expertise in the field of literary and cultural theory. The research work of Arthur Bradley, Jo Carruthers and Andrew Tate focuses on spiritual identities. Professor Lynne Pearce, Catherine Spooner, Lindsey Moore and Julie Scanlon all work in the area of contemporary literary studies (encompassing literary, filmic and cultural texts), and many members of staff will be involved in a landmark international conference on the theme of the 21 st Century Novel organised by Michael Greaney.
Arthur Bradley, Jo Carruthers and Andrew Tate's research interests in religion, theory and culture have led to the formation of a new interdisciplinary research cluster focusing on spiritual identities. Straddling the divides between philosophy and theology, biblical studies, cultural studies and literary criticism, Arthur, Jo and Andrew's work examines different manifestations of the 'sacred turn' in contemporary thought, culture and literature Arthur has published the monograph Negative Theology and Modern French Philosophy (Routledge, 2004) which focuses on theology in the work of Derrida, Foucault, Certeau, Kristeva and Marion. Jo's current research project, Narrating the Diaspora: A Cultural History of Purim , analyses the Jewish festival of Purim in the light of Bakhtin's carnivalesque. Andrew is currently writing a monograph on Christianity and contemporary fiction.
In November 2004, Jo and Andrew organised the highly successful international conference Spiritual Identities conference and, together with Arthur, they are currently planning a series of publications of the conference proceedings. Future areas for research interest in this field will include examining the relation between religion and technology, asylum, nationalism and (together with Professor Richard Wilson) the ethico-political theory and practice of tolerance.
Contemporary Literary Studies
During 2004, the field of contemporary literary studies (encompassing literary, filmic and cultural texts) has become another very fertile area for research activity in literary and cultural theory.
Professor Lynne Pearce's most recent book The Rhetorics of Feminism (Routledge 2003) explores the ways in which rhetorical and stylistic innovation in writers such as Judith Butler and Germaine Greer have impacted upon thought-production. Lynne is currently working on A Cultural History of Romance which analyses the changing cultural and ideological status of romantic love (to be published by Polity). Michael Greaney is currently working on a book entitled Contemporary Fiction and the Uses of Theory (to be published by Palgrave in 2005) which focuses on the reception and representation of theory in literary fiction since the late 1960s.
Catherine Spooner's Fashioning Gothic Bodies (Manchester University Press, 2004) explores the theoretical relationship between surface and depth in Gothic texts by relating it to the history and theory of fashion. Extending literary concepts of Gothic across media, Catherine's current work explores contemporary representations of the Gothic in fashion, film, art, television, advertising and consumer products.
Lindsey Moore is working on a book entitled Arab, Muslim, Woman: Re-Orienting the Gaze in Postcolonial Literature and Film (to be submitted to Routledge) which deploys postcolonial, feminist, psychoanalytic and film theories to assess the representation and self-representation of women in relation to nation, religion and exile.
Professor John Schad has worked extensively on Jacques Derrda and is particularly interested in the religious, creative, and autobiographical turns within Derrida's oeuvre. John has begun to explore these turns in his recent books life.after.theory (2002) and Someone Called Derrida. An Oxford Mystery (2007), the latter being an experimental book in which John mis-reads Derrida's The Post Card as an investigation of the life and slow death of his own father.
In September 2005, the Department's strong research profile in contemporary literary studies will be showcased at a landmark international conference on the theme of the 21 st Century Novel organised by Michael Greaney.