The Literary Encyclopedia Research Travel Award 2016-2017

We are pleased to announce the results of the travel award competition for 2016-2017 sponsored by The Literary Encyclopedia. This year we have decided to offer this award to four rather than just two/three early career researchers because the royalties generously donated by our contributors and editors to our Scholarship Fund made this possible. The projects we have chosen are original, historically informed and timely, showing real insight and deep understanding of the matters they explore; it is exhilarating to be able to extend our support to such a wide range of valuable and inspiring work. The four awarded projects are the following:

Eleanor Careless, PhD candidate, University of Sussex – “Charged with Terrorism: Gender and Political Violence in the Poetry of Anna Mendelssohn”

This research project will be the first sustained study of the poet, artist and activist Anna Mendelssohn (1948 – 2009) alongside comparative figures including Muriel Rukeyser and Nancy Cunard. The project argues that Mendelssohn’s experimental, highly political poetry permits an unusual degree of insight into how “terrorist” subjects represent themselves. In 1972 Mendelssohn was charged of conspiracy to commit explosions, and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. With close reference to literary archives, media accounts, trial transcripts and other primary data, the project examines the ways in which gendered representations of political violence drove terror and counter-terror strategies in Britain and America in the 1970s. The central argument is that the temporary measures and gender constructs of the 1970s paved the way for counter-terror legislation in Britain and the US today. The award would enable the examination of the Nancy Cunard Collection, held in Austin, Texas. The material held there would allow for the development of a comparative chapter on Mendelssohn, Cunard and their profoundly Surrealist poetics - the only detailed study of this kind, which is likely to generate considerable interest from scholars of both poets. Encouraged by the recent publication of Nancy Cunard’s Selected Poems by Sandeep Parmar, it seems a timely moment to study artistic output that inscribes a lived experience of resistance.

Naomi Wood, Lecturer and Writer, Goldsmiths’, University of London – Torch Song – A Novel

Following the success of the widely-acclaimed debut novel Mrs Hemingway, the work-in-progress Torch Song is a historical novel set in the German Bauhaus between 1923 and 1933. This is a time of glorious permission and abrupt control: the novel goes from the classical city of Weimar, to Walter Gropius’ modernist architectural masterpiece of the Bauhaus in Dessau, and eventually to the school’s tragic closure in Nazi Berlin. This is a story of the birth, and the suffocation, of modernity in the twentieth century. Funding from the Literary Encyclopaedia will be used to undertake primary research at the archives in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin, as well interviewing the librarians and curators of the Bauhaus archives and buildings.

Arendse Lund, PhD candidate, University College London – “Literature and Law in Anglo-Saxon England”

Anglo-Saxon law-codes and charters comprise the largest and most diverse corpus of legal texts surviving from early medieval Europe. This project sets out to explore links between the development of literary language and the development of legal language. Building on the influential work of Patrick Wormald and including discourses on the use of literary and legal language and the perception of authenticity and authority, the project brings together the stylistic and rhetorical elements to assess whether the Anglo-Saxon legal codes had a more fluid relationship with Old English literature than previously acknowledged. The purpose of the archival research is to examine the unedited or undigitised early medieval legal manuscripts in the Royal Library, the National Library of Denmark, and the Copenhagen University Library, including the Arnamagnæan Manuscript Collection. The Danish collections contain important manuscripts crucial to this research, as the majority of scholarship on the intersection of literature and law rely on the Old Norse corpus. This will be important for comparison, especially in light of England as an Anglo-Danish settlement.

Alexandra Parsons, PhD candidate, University College London - “Derek Jarman and Life Writing”

British filmmaker, writer, artist and activist Derek Jarman (1942-94) blended visionary queer politics with experimental self-representation. The connection between art and activism underpins Jarman’s powerful, imaginative response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Like a number of New York artists and writers including David Wojnarowicz, Keith Haring, Peter Hujar and Edmund White, Jarman consistently created art with material drawn from his own life, using it as a generative activist force. The LE award will help in funding a three-month period of research at Yale University, which is rich in relevant archival resources, in order to critique the transatlantic dimension of Jarman’s response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. This research makes a significant contribution to LGBTQ+ studies by providing the first full-length study of Jarman’s writing, incorporating analyses of his strategic self-representations across literature, film and art.

We would like to thank and congratulate all applicants, whose projects were strong, interesting and certainly deserving of funding. We can only hope that our scholarship fund will grow and that we will be able to offer more such grants in the future.