Amber Pouliot, Bishop Grosseteste University
Amber’s interest in literary tourism began with visits to the Brontës’ home at Haworth Parsonage, and developed over the course of a PhD exploring the process by which the Brontës were transformed from historical figures to fictional characters. Central to this transformation were the many accounts of pilgrims to the Parsonage, whose experiences of the family’s home, their material remains, and the moors that surrounded them were clearly mediated by their knowledge of the sisters’ novels. Nineteenth-century guidebooks to Brontë Country incorporated passages from the sister’s fiction, and present-day arguments for preserving the area often rely on an assumption that seeing these landscapes is somehow necessary to any understanding of the novels.
Amber’s research on the ways in which literature inspired by affective responses to the Brontës’ home helped shape popular understandings of their lives sparked an interest in present-day literary tourism and what it can tell us about our relationship to the works of nineteenth-century authors. It also inspired the student engagement project, which allows undergraduates with an existing interest in literary tourism to improve their research skills while taking part in the planning of this international conference.
Joanna Taylor, Keele University
Joanna has a long-established fascination with the ways in which writers interact with the places around them. Her thesis, ‘Writing Spaces: the Coleridge family’s interactive poetics, 1796-1898’, focuses on the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s children and grandchildren and considers how the places these writers knew – especially the Lake District – impacted upon their imaginative experiences. She’s particularly interested in the phenomenological experiences of place, and particularly the ways in which bodily experiences – sight, smell, movement – affect how we experience place. She’s also interested in the visual representations of these places, particularly considering eighteenth- and nineteenth-century developments in cartography. The Postcard Map comes, in part, from a desire to encourage consideration of contemporary spatial interactions, whilst the blog is inspired by a continued interest, shared between the three of us, in exploring how people experience sites of literary interest now on both intellectual and personal levels.
Claire Wood, University of York
Claire comes to this project with a long-standing interest in the Victorian commodification of death, completing a PhD on the subject in 2012 and recently publishing her first book, Dickens and the Business of Death (CUP, 2015). As such, she is particularly fascinated by dark literary tourism – travel to sites associated with writers’ deaths – and the way in which these visits can be underpinned by commercial practices.
The experience of working at the Charles Dickens Museum during a postdoc that explored the events of Dickens 2012 piqued her curiosity about why authors’ houses continue to captivate visitors and helped to inspire the Postcard Project.
Beatrice Lord, University of York
Beatrice comes relatively new to the field of Literary Tourism, as a second year English undergraduate from the University of York. Inspired by early encounters with Elizabeth Gaskell’s rural retreat in Silverdale, Lancashire, she has developed an enthusiasm for the ways in which landscape manifests itself in the works of many authors.
Beatrice aims to contribute through her passion and interest in these environments, be they the dramatic cityscapes of Manchester in Mary Barton or the ‘unspoiled’ pastoral settings featured in Ruth. Exploring the destinations captured by nineteenth century authors is particularly compelling for her, focussing her studies of Victorian and Romantic sceneries. This in turn drew her to the conference which offers an unrivalled opportunity to involve herself with others who share her excitement.
Laura Jade Lutton, Bishop Grosseteste University
Laura is a first year undergraduate in English at Bishop Grosseteste University. Her unbridled passion for literature and the authors behind the texts inspire her to engage with texts on a deeper level. With an enthusiasm for research and a keen interest in nineteenth-century gothic and romantic fiction, especially the Brontё sisters but most especially Wuthering Heights, Laura finds herself drawn to the surrounding natural environments as well as the domestic surroundings of these authors. In addition to her interest in exploring authors’ surroundings, Laura is interested in the thought process of the authors at the time of writing their greatest works. Laura hopes the conference will enable her to connect with authors, texts and their working environments and conditions on a much deeper level; and she is very keen to learn more about how other academics perceive the impact that domesticity and nature had upon the great authors of the nineteenth century.
Holly Williams, Keele University
Holly’s interest and fascination with literary tourism began in childhood with visits to the home of Shakespeare and has continued to grow through both personal and academic encounters. Currently in her second year of studying for a dual honours degree in English and Film Studies, she has enjoyed studying modules specifically targeted at British writers from the 17th-19th centuries and, through an exploration of their work and private lives, has become interested in the role of place and literary tourism.
She brings to the role a keen interest in understanding the sphere of academia and enthusiasm. She was drawn to the position of voluntary conference assistant as it offers an unrivalled opportunity to learn about both literary tourism and the running of an academic conference. Looking to complete her final year dissertation on John Keats and the lives of the Romantic Poets, she hopes to take forth knowledge and experience gained from her time working with the conference into her future work and interests.