Literature, Place and Location

The Department leads the world in the study of the literature of the Lake District, hosting both the Wordsworth Centre and the Ruskin Programme (which administers the great Ruskin Library).

Experts in the field of Romantic and Victorian literature (Bainbridge, Bushell, Hanley) specialise in the study of place, space and texts as well as the touristic aspects of writing in and about the Lakes. The relationship between literature and place is also explored in direct experiential ways through Bainbridge’s Wordsworth Walks and the Literary Field Trip. A forthcoming project by Jo Carruthers, entitled Placing Morecambe, brings exploration of the region closer to home, using recent theories of place and space to interrogate the nature of this seaside environment.

In the early modern period, explorations of location include Professor Alison Findlay's Playing Spaces in Early Women’s Drama (2006) and more recent research dedicated to expanding ideas of Renaissance drama to include non-commercial venues beyond the London stage. The British Academy-funded project on Early Quakers in the Northwest, led by Professor Findlay, Professor Hilary Hinds and Professor Meg Twycross, focuses, for example, at the ways in which George Fox and other Friends negotiated and colonised different kinds of space: the landscape, alehouses, marketplaces, mountain-tops, ‘steeplehouses’, safe houses, and prisons.

Turning from rural to urban locations, one of the Department's most notable recent contributions to the study of contemporary writing has been the Moving Manchester Project, which explores creative writing from Greater Manchester that has been informed and influenced by the experience of migration; the closing conference of the project, Glocal Imaginaries: Writing / Migration / Place, took place 9th-12th September 2009 at Lancaster University and the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester.

Others in the Department working on literature and location include Professor John Schad, whose recent book Someone Called Derrida. An Oxford Mystery (2007) is an experiment in location criticism that re-reads the life and, indeed, death of Jacques Derrida via the University and city of Oxford; and Dr Catherine Spooner, who is currently working on a long-term project on the cultural geography of the ghost story, exploring in particular the development of a regional English Gothic from 1850 onwards. Amongst the publications of the Department's creative writers, some of the most notable contributions include Graham Mort's poems of the natural world (most recently, Visibility: New and Selected Poems, 2007); and Paul Farley's non-fiction work (with Michael Symmons Roberts), Edgelands – Journeys into England’s Last Wilderness (2010).