Ilkley Literature Festival presents Settee Seminars, a podcast series of fascinating short talks by leading experts, introducing you to a wide range of topics from modern U.S. history to psychiatry and 18th century literature.
In each episode, a leading specialist in their field condenses years of study into a bite-sized 20-minute talk, giving listeners the chance to explore entire worlds of knowledge you might not even have known existed without ever having to leave your sofa.
Greg Radick – Darwin's Argument by Analogy
In November 1859, while Charles Darwin was staying in Ilkley, he published one of the most famous scientific books of all time: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. It’s well known that Darwin named his theory “natural selection” in order to call attention to an analogy with stockbreeding or “artificial selection.” But how, exactly, did he think the analogy worked? And why did he set such store by it? In our day, after all, analogies in science don’t seem all that serious. We think of the UK’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jonathan Van‒Tam, livening up press briefings about coronavirus by bringing in football matches, train rides and yoghurt. In this talk Professor Greg Radick will preview a new analysis of Darwin’s analogy, from a book co-authored with Leeds colleagues Roger White and Jonathan Hodge, and due to be published this summer by Cambridge University Press.
Van-Tam's analogies: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55169801
Roger M. White, M.J.S Hodge & Gregory Radick, Darwin's Argument by Analogy: From Artificial to Natural Selection
Jason Allen-Paisant – On Being a Black Body in “Nature”: A Walking Lyric
“On Being a Black Body in ‘Nature’” is a lyric hybrid that combines poetry and essay. One might call it a “lyric essay”. Weaving the musicality of poetry into the more rationalist tone of the essay affords a blending of genres, voices, languages, and selves, and a coming together of different fragments of life and experience in new and interesting ways. The lyric essay embodies a form of mobility suited to my migrant experience, that of a Black West Indian living in Britain more than sixty years after the first Windrush arrivants. In this piece Dr Jason Allen-Paisant tackles questions that arise at the intersection of landscape, race, and history. The lyric essay as creative inquiry provides a liberating rhythm through which he can navigate these questions.
Allen-Paisant, Jason (2021). “Reclaiming Time: On Blackness and Landscape”. PN Review 257.
Allen-Paisant, Jason (2021). Thinking with Trees. Manchester: Carcanet.
Emily Webb – ‘Beneficial, Injurious or Innocent?’: Tea in Eighteenth Century Britain
Britain consumes 60 billion cups of tea per year, almost 900 for every man, woman and child in the country. It has become entrenched in our way of life, from the humble tea break in your home to the fanciest of afternoon teas at the Ritz, it can be enjoyed in all situations. Tea has stood the test of time and remains our national drink. However, this has not always been the case.
During the eighteenth-century debate raged about the potential beneficial and harmful effects of this Chinese drink on the health and wellbeing of the nation. It was suspected of leading women to live immoral lives, poisoning the population with Chinese medicine, and ruining the working classes.
However, through an exploration of these debates, Postgraduate Researcher Emily Webb will show how tea was simply a scapegoat – an innocent victim of larger debates about the social changes happening during the century when Britain was emerging as a global power and changing beyond recognition.
Jane Pettigrew & Bruce Richardson, A Social History of Tea (London: Benjamin Press, 2001).
Roy Maxim, A Brief History of Tea: Addiction, Exploitation, and Empire (London: Robinson, 2009).
Markman Ellis, Richard Coulton, and Matthew Mauger, Empire of Tea: The Asian Leaf that Conquered the World (London: Reaktion, 2018).
Fozia Bora & Alaric Hall – Decolonising Medieval Literature and History
What does it mean to ‘decolonise’ the studies carried out at university, whether in English Studies or in the history of the Eastern and Western worlds? In this informal conversation, Dr Alaric Hall and Dr Fozia Bora reflect on the meanings and application of the term ‘decolonise’ for their respective areas of teaching and research in medieval studies and history. While this word encapsulates a range of understandings, there are key principles at stake, which promise to bring more nuance, inclusivity and vital contextualisation into discussions about how knowledge is created and shared in university spaces. Spoiler alert: the decolonisation of academia is not a smooth or straightforward journey, but it can be exhilarating!
Geraldine Heng, England and the Jews: How Religion and Violence Created the First Racial State in the West (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019)
Amitav Ghosh, In an Antique Land (London: Granta, 1992)
Francois-Xavier Fauvelle, The Golden Rhinoceros: Histories of the African Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018)
Toward a Global Middle Ages: Encountering the World through Illuminated Manuscripts, ed. by Brian C. Keene (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2019)
Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978): https://globalsocialtheory.org/concepts/orientalism/
Emily Zobel Marshall – Longing for Freedom: The Story of the African Trickster
Dr Emily Zobel Marshall will take you on journey through black history and across continents, guided by a most captivating character, the trickster spider Anansi. Marshall will reveal the roots of the Anansi folktales in Ghana and demonstrate Anansi inspired both psychological and physical resistance to enslavement on the Jamaican plantations. She will show us the vital role the trickster plays in our lives by testing and exposing abuses of power.
For Anansi story collections in Jamaica see, among others: Beckwith, Martha Warren (1924) Jamaica Anansi Stories. New York: American Folk-lore Society. Bennett, Louise (1979) Anancy and Miss Lou. Kingston: Sangster' s Book Stores. Jekyll, W. (1966) Jamaican Song and Story: Annancy Stories, Digging Sings, Dancing Tunes and Ring Tunes. New York: Dover Publications, and Tanna, Laura (1984) Jamaican Folktales and Oral Histories. Kingston: Institute of Jamaica Publications.
Zobel Marshall, Emily (2019) American Trickster: Trauma Tradition and Brer Rabbit. Rowman and Littlefield: London.
Zobel Marshall, Emily (2012) Anansi’s Journey: A Story of Jamaican Cultural Resistance. University of the West Indies Press: Kingston.
Zobel, Joseph (1950; 2020) Black Shack Alley. Penguin Classics: USA
About the speaker:
Dr Emily Zobel Marshall is a Reader in Postcolonial Literature at the School of Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett University. Her research specialisms are Caribbean literature and folklore and Caribbean carnival cultures. She is obsessed with trickster figures and her books focus on the role of the trickster in Caribbean and African American cultures; her first book, Anansi’s Journey: A Story of Jamaican Cultural Resistance (2012) was published by the University of the West Indies Press and her second book, American Trickster: Trauma Tradition and Brer Rabbit, was published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2019.
Emily enjoys developing her creative work alongside her academic writing. She has had poems published in The Caribbean Writer (Vol 32, 2020), The Caribbean Quarterly (Vol 66, 2020) Magma (‘The Loss’, Issue 75, 2019), Smoke Magazine (Issue 67, 2020).
David Fairer – Wigs, Swords and Poison: Writing Murder Mysteries set in Queen Anne’s London
After forty years researching and teaching eighteenth-century literature, Emeritus Professor David Fairer is now attempting to bring the age alive in a series of novels, the Chocolate House Mysteries. Centred on a Covent Garden chocolate house, these books combine historical fact and fiction, with their plots built around the actual events of 1708.
Writing a historical ‘whodunit’ raises particular challenges and questions. How did men and women in 1708 conceive of such things as evidence, clues, blackmail, bribery, interrogation and teamwork? How did they conceive of the notion of ‘detection’ itself, when there were no policemen and no detectives, no experts, no teams, no concept of crime scenes or forensics?
Have a listen to ‘Wigs, Swords and Poison’ to find the answers to these questions!
David Fairer, Chocolate House Treason: A Mystery of Queen Anne’s London (Matador, 2019) https://davidfairer.com.
Aytoun Ellis, The Penny Universities: A History of the Coffee-Houses (Secker & Warburg, 1956).
Markman Ellis, The Coffee House: A Cultural History (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2004).
Bryant Lillywhite, London Coffee Houses (George Allen and Unwin, 1963).
John Ashton, Social Life in the Reign of Queen Anne (Chatto & Windus, 1929).
About the speaker:
David Fairer is Emeritus Professor of Eighteenth-Century English Literature at the University of Leeds, where he has taught since 1976. His historical whodunit, Chocolate House Treason, was published in 2019.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Ilkley Literature Festival (ILF)- Excellent Podcast
Delighted to see that ILF have launched a podcast with pods that are as diverse as their real-life festival programme. Particularly enjoyed the ones on 5G and murder mysteries in Queen Anne’s London. Well worth a listen.