Carrie and I would like to extend our thanks to everyone who attended the Reclamation & Representation conference over the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd of October. The standard of papers was excellent and were overwhelmed by everyone’s enthusiasm and the extremely high quality of debate and discussion.
The event went off with very few glitches, and we are extremely grateful for the positive feedback and kind comments we received from many who attended.
We extend a final thank you to the University of Exeter for hosting the event, and to Exeter’s Special Collections and Centre for South West Writing for supporting this venture. Thank you once again, also, to our wonderful keynotes, Professor Helen Taylor and Dr Wim Van Mierlo.
We are keen to keep the project alive beyond the conference event itself. As such, we will be continuing to update this blog, and we encourage the continued submission of any research pieces, examples, questions or suggestions to be featured on the site. We welcome any information such as links to relevant press coverage, materials or academic news relating to the archive world in general.
Comments can be posted on existing blog posts, and any material you’d like featured can be emailed to myself or Carrie (firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com).
We include below the concluding remarks from the event, along with a handful of photographs.
All the very best,
Lisa and Carrie
Concluding remarks (Lisa Stead, University of Exeter)
Archives tell stories, but also offer a multi-textual environment that invites a range of methodological tools and approaches.
Authenticity persists as a challenge and as a point of debate—whether this be the authenticity and authority of the source material, or the authenticity of the attribution of sources and texts.
Our work as researchers in varied literary fields, locations and timeframes engages different forms of re-representation—such as; the creation of new archives and new ways of collating and presenting materials; the reframing of biographies, of individual works and the historical significance of particular writers; and the recontextualisation of such writers and works within a network of interconnected individuals, locations, institutions and traditions.
The archive engages the researcher materially and theoretically. A range of speakers across the conference sought to deal with the nature of the archive itself through a theoretical lens. In doing so, the papers engaged with the concept and experience of archives, as social, cultural, material and intellectual encounters.
Some of the papers offered challenges to the ways in which we conceive of the structuring and collection of archive holdings and collections. A strong case was made generally for the precedence of archival coherence in the centralisation of author specific collections.
Economic factors are, as ever, a huge influence upon the shaping of archives and the kind of scholarship that we as researchers are able to undertake. The merits and demerits of the powerful American University archives are still very much a point of contestation! Economic restraints further dictate the digital future of archives.
The conference also asked what else the archive can or will be. Can it be a performance, or a history of performances? A cultural or textual ‘effect’? An organic entity, a creator in itself? --or an entity so focused upon the hallowed literary creator that, as some of our presenters suggested, other lines of research, other questions and other stories of equal or potentially greater value are closed down?
We hope to keep these insights and debates alive across this blog, continuing the productive and interactive atmosphere of the conference through research pieces, reflections, links and networking.