BAVS TALKS, 2015-18

Here you can find links to videos of various events associated with the British Association for Victorian Studies, namely the annual ‘BAVS Talks’ event in which four leading Victorianists from across the UK are invited to give filmed talks about their research. This event has been running since 2015. Embedded below are all four of the 2018 BAVS Talks at the University of Surrey, which will play consecutively.

Here are the videos for BAVS Talks 2017:

BAVS Talks 2016:

And BAVS Talks 2015 (the first BAVS Talks):

There are also videos of selected talks from the 2015 BAVS annual conference at Leeds:

You can also enjoy this video recording of ‘Is She His Wife? Or, Something Singular’ – a Dickens Drama that was sponsored by BAVS.

Reflections on BAVS Talks 2015

 

Oxford postgraduate students Alison Moulds and Sarah Barnette share their thoughts on BAVS Talks 2015

 

Alison Moulds: All four papers at BAVS Talks 2015 were suffused with energy; one thing which I feel has translated particularly well to screen. Isobel Armstrong set the tone when she challenged us to reflect on how our literary analysis might be circumscribed and to think afresh about how we could engage with nineteenth-century fiction. Meanwhile, Hilary Fraser shared some of the “buzz” around Victorian sculpture; Martin Hewitt – in a timely intervention into therndebates about the V21 Collective – made a measured but passionate plea for thernvalue of historicism; and Helen Rogers illustrated how social history had been energised and reformulated by digitisation, the opening of the archives andrnsocial media projects.

When I attended BAVS Talks I was days away from myrnend-of-first-year upgrade assessment. I was anxious about sounding polishedrnduring my interview. What I took away from these talks personally was arnreassurance that it’s perfectly okay – even productive – to frame our ideas asrnprovisional or work-in-progress. I welcomed the fact that Rogers opened herrnpaper by saying she hadn’t brought an agenda, but rather some thoughts andrnimpressions about what was happening in the field of social history. Similarly,rnI was interested in the way in which Armstrong framed students’ initialrnresponses to fiction as rich and stimulating, and how her approach to literaryrncriticism foregrounded a tone of inquiry and questioning.

For me, there was a concerted energy around ideas ofrnreinvention, the provisional, and accessibility, as well as a real commitmentrnto creativity and interdisciplinarity. Ultimately, this gave BAVS Talks arndemocratizing feel, which seems particularly apt given that papers were also intendedrnto serve as a series of online videos available to a wide audience. I hopernthat, in the coming months, they will encourage both newcomers to the field andrnseasoned academics to engage in broader discussion about the direction andrnstatus of Victorian Studies, as well as the challenges and opportunities itrnpresents.

Sarah Barnette: A cross-pollinating impulse prevailedrnat the recent BAVS Talks. Calling upon scholars to be both introspective andrninclusive, this rousing series was infused with a desire to liberate the fieldrnfrom the calcifying effects of “ideological pessimism” and to break new groundrnthrough interdisciplinary endeavours. I was struck by the event’s vibrant focusrnon the fruitfulness of engagement: with other disciplines, with non-academicrnresearchers, and with digital media as it alters how we present and transmitrnmaterial.

Dismantlingrnthe Ivory Tower seemed to be the order of the day. Armstrong highlighted thernnoxious disparity between classroom and critical responses to thernnineteenth-century novel, laying out four principles by which academics mayrnreinvigorate their literary criticism with the kind of enthusiasm, energy, andrndelight experienced by students. Martin Hewitt made a bid for self-reflection,rncalling upon scholars to industriously reassess, reconfigure, and reapplyrnhistoricism in response to anti-historicist currents. Hilary Fraser’s inquiryrninto the reception and symbolism of late-Victorian sculpture was also naturallyrnreflective, and lent itself perfectly as an example of how historicist projectsrncontribute to our understanding of the relationship between the abstract andrnthe concrete. Helen Rogers’ talk highlighted the very real impact ofrnsocio-political movements on literary studies, and presented perhaps the mostrndirect call to public engagement.

As arnthird-year DPhil student, my mind is presently flooded with questions ofrnmethodology and meaning. I came away from these talks thinking more about whatrnit means to be an academic; to be publicly engaged via my research and teachingrnpractices. As an abject historicist, Hewitt’s call to introspection has had arntimely resonance. Armstrong’s points spoke directly to my personal experiencernof disorientation as I moved from the inspirational environs of thernundergraduate classroom to (what has often felt like) the enervating confinesrnof graduate research. My heart leapt when Armstrong commented during thernQ&A, “We should not make a hard and fast distinction between criticism andrncreative writing.” I look forward to seeing more of this attitude fuellingrnfuture literary criticism, and to gearing my own work towards the creative and collaborative.