• Charlotte Brontë and the Politics of Cloth: The ‘vile rumbling mills’ of Yorkshire

      Wynne, Deborah; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2017-12-18)
      This essay examines Charlotte Brontë’s engagement with the textile industry from her earliest writings to her 1849 Condition of England novel Shirley in order to emphasise the role that Yorkshire and its staple industry played in her writing. Critics have discussed Brontë’s interest in textile production largely in relation to Shirley. However, her fascination with cloth manufacturing is evident in many of her Angrian tales and some of her unfinished novels. This essay argues that through her early representations of mills and mill owners Brontë formulated an understanding of political conflict and masculine power which helped to shape her mature writing. This culminates in Shirley with her critique of the taboo against educated women entering careers in trade and manufacturing.
    • Coins and Cosmologies in Iron Age Western Britain

      Pudney, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-06-27)
      Using an approach derived from material culture studies and semiotics, this speculative paper addresses possible relationships between humans and horses in the British Iron Age. Through a study of dominance of horse imagery found on Iron Age British coinage, specifically the Western coins traditionally attributed to the ‘Dobunni’, the author explores what these coins may be able to inform us regarding the possible relationships between humans and horses and their personhood therein. Drawing on wider evidence including faunal remains and other horse-related metalwork, it is argued that these coins could be interpreted as a manifestation of the complex perspectives surrounding a symbiotic relationship between humans and horses.
    • Creating Charisma Online: The Role of Digital Presence in the Formation of Religious Identity

      Tee, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019-04-23)
      This article investigates the construction and transmission of charisma through online channels, and its role in the formation of religious identities. Mindful of Max Weber’s observation that charisma inhabits the relationship between a leader and their followers, I argue for a critical reappraisal of the theoretical model in light of the ubiquity in the 21st century of new, virtual forms of social encounter. I focus my analysis on the Christian creationist movement in the USA, and particularly on an influential leader called Ken Ham. Using digital ethnographic methods, I show how Ham constructs charisma online, and how a virtual community forms itself around his charismatic claims. I illustrate how this virtual community intersects with offline worlds, and suggest that the theme park attractions that Ham’s organisation runs (Creation Museum, Ark Encounter) are imbued with deflected charisma by virtue of their association with his online avatar.
    • The embodied Deaf God: a God just like us

      Morris, Wayne; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019-05-22)
      The body, whether understood positively or negatively, has always been a part of Christian thinking and practice. However, the body has often been viewed as a ‘prison’ from which humans should seek to escape. In this paper, I suggest that, despite dominant theological discourses that have sought to negate the human body – and especially bodies that do not conform to certain norms – we find in the Christian tradition extra-ordinary theologies and spiritualities of survival and resistance expressed through the body. Deaf perspectives on God provide one example of this. By giving attention to the ways in which Deaf people imagine God as embodied, I argue that we can imagine ourselves as just like God – concretely in God’s image in our embodied condition, and that in this discovery, we can learn to affirm our embodied states in all their diversity.
    • A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East: Neo-Colonialism and Self-Fashioning in Hunter S. Thompson’s The Curse of Lono

      Stephenson, William; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2011-03-10)
      This essay departs from the critical consensus on The Curse of Lono (1983) to argue that it forms an important part of Hunter S. Thompson’s oeuvre and shows significant developments from his celebrated 1970s work. The novel functions politically as a critique of late twentieth-century US neo-colonialism and thus anticipates the current globalization debate, at the same time as wrestling with the connected problem of its author’s acknowledged status as a celebrity or branded American product. The Curse of Lono’s complex structure of interwoven extracts from Thompson’s research sources, as well as Ralph Steadman’s drawings, reduces the importance of the central subjective voice that Thompson had employed since his 1970s books, enabling the novel to comment ironically on the notorious Gonzo persona in which, thanks to the very success of his earlier work, Thompson had become trapped, and on which he still depended commercially (I refer here to Michel Foucault’s concept of the author-function). The Curse of Lono mocks its Gonzo protagonist as both a tourist and a buffoon: it comments on the subjectivism of Gonzo ironically, pushing celebrity to its ludicrous limit by making the protagonist divine. At the same time, the novel demonstrates how authorship can emerge from the historical forces that fashion culture, such as globalization In order to unpack the satirical content of The Curse of Lono in the detail it deserves, this essay adopts a position broadly aligned with the Marxist stance on globalization that sees it as a term masking Western imperialism and the needs of finance capital: I refer here to the work of David Held, Anthony McGrew, Peter Cox, James Annesley and others.
    • The fourteenth-century poll tax returns and the study of English surname distribution

      Parkin, Harry; University of the West of England (Taylor & Francis, 2015-01-22)
      The modern-day distributions of English surnames have been considered in genealogical, historical, and philological research as possible indicators of their origins. However, many centuries have passed since hereditary surnames were first used, and so their distribution today does not necessarily reflect their original spread, misrepresenting their origins. Previously, medieval data with national coverage have not been available for a study of surname distribution but, with the recent publication of the fourteenth century poll tax returns, this has changed. By presenting discrepancies in medieval and 19th-century distributions, it is shown that more recent surname data may not be a suitable guide to surname origins, and can be usefully supplemented by medieval data in order to arrive at more accurate conclusions.
    • The garden as a laboratory: the role of domestic gardens as places of scientific exploration in the long 18th century

      Hickman, Clare; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2014-06-24)
      Eighteenth-century gardens have traditionally been viewed as spaces designed for leisure, and as representations of political status, power and taste. In contrast, this paper will explore the concept that gardens in this period could be seen as dynamic spaces where scientific experiment and medical practice could occur. Two examples have been explored in the pilot study which has led to this paper — the designed landscapes associated with John Hunter’s Earl’s Court residence, in London, and the garden at Edward Jenner’s house in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Garden history methodologies have been implemented in order to consider the extent to which these domestic gardens can be viewed as experimental spaces.
    • The Gülen Movement in London and the politics of public engagement: producing 'Good Islam' before and after 15 July

      Tee, Caroline; University of Chester; University of Cambridge (Taylor & Francis, 2018-03-22)
      Since the failed coup of 15 July 2016, for which it is held responsible, the Gülen Movement (GM) has been in crisis. With no foreseeable future in its homeland, the GM is now tasked with regrouping abroad. This article investigates the GM in London, a city that, for various reasons, is likely to become a significant centre for Gülenist activity in the post-coup era. Taking the Dialogue Society (DS) as its focus, it investigates the prospects of the GM’s survival by analyzing its activities, both before and after the coup, in light of Mamdani’s discussion of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Muslims in the post9/11 world. The article shows how the GM has established itself as a voice of ‘good’ Islam in the context of British debates on Islam and radicalization. It suggests that the public presence the GM has established for itself through its public engagement activities in the UK could constitute a central part of its fight back against resident Erdoğan, and be catalytic to its creation of a dynamic future in exile.
    • ‘He didn’t really talk about it’: The (re)construction and transmission of a Free French past

      Millington, Christopher; Millington, Richard
      A study of how the memories of a member of the Free French were (and were not) communicated to the rest of his family after the Second World War.
    • ‘He was struck out. Deleted’: We Need to Talk about Wesley in Nicola Barker’s Behindlings

      Pollard, Eileen; University of Chester
      This article provides a poststructural reading of the character of Wesley in Nicola Barker’s 2002 novel Behindlings, which is broadly informed by Jean-Luc Nancy’s thoughts on being and community and Jacques Derrida’s thinking on khōra, as well as other established poststructural paradigms. It contends that the novel simultaneously engages with these ideas and exceeds them. Wesley is the void-at-the-heart of his own ‘philosophy’: ‘He was hollow. He was empty […] He was a vacuum. He was struck-out. Deleted. He was nothing’. And he is everything as well at one and the same time. It is the classic poststructural paradox – receiving everything while possessing nothing – that makes meaning possible. And that is the argument: the signifier, the empty sign for some, the palimpsest for others, here is simply Wesley. However, my argument is that the characterisation of Wesley challenges and complicates such readings, deliberately. This article will demonstrate how the novel repeatedly sullies the theories it implicates by introducing a persistent taint to the main vehicle used to articulate the theory, the protagonist himself, that ‘puerile […] shithead’, Wesley.
    • The household inventory as urban 'theatre' in late medieval Burgundy

      Wilson, Katherine A.; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2015-07-16)
      In 1413 at the death of his wife Guillemot, Jean Aubert, a group of witnesses and a clerk of the local mayoralty met to value the possessions of their residence, resulting in an inventory full of notes and values on rooms and their objects. Within the existing historiography of the Burgundian Netherlands and its Northern European neighbours, inventories and their objects tend to be analysed from two perspectives: the Burgundian court and the ‘consumer revolution’. Applying insights from Erving Goffman and Bruno Latour, this article suggests a third perspective should have priority: the urban ‘theatre’ within which objects were documented and placed. Therefore it sets up an alternate methodology which begins with the inventory to build a picture of the theatre (the urban context and residence), the actors (the Aubert family) and the audience (the witnesses of the inventory) to establish new insights on the operation of Burgundian power and the dynamics of the ‘consumer revolution’.
    • How to speak of God? Toward a postsecular apologetics

      Graham, Elaine L.; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-04-11)
      Against most expectations religion has not vanished from Western culture. If anything, it exercises a greater fascination than ever before. Broadly, we might think of ourselves as occupying a new, 'postsecular' space between a renewed visibility of religion in public life, and a corresponding acknowledgement of the importance of religious values and actors; and persistent and widespread disillusion and scepticism towards religion, and objections to religion as a source of legitimate public discourse. In a world that is more sensitive than ever to religious belief and practice, yet often struggles to accommodate it into secular discourse, how do religious institutions justify their position in a contested and volatile public square? This article argues that the contemporary postsecular context requires a recovery of the ancient practices of Christian apologetics as a form of public, theological witness to the practical value of faith, articulated in both deed and word.
    • Hysteria repeating itself: Elizabeth Gaskell's Lois the witch

      Wynne, Deborah; University College Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2006-12-20)
      This article discusses Lois the witch, (Elizabeth Gaskell's fictional representation of the Salem witch trials) which was first published serially in Dickens's All The Year Round in 1859. This serialisation led to numerous conservative accounts in the periodical press of the role of the hysterical woman throughout history. In Lois, however, with its representation of mass hysteria, Gaskell refutes the widespread Victorian belief that hysteria is 'natural' for women - a symptom of their vulnerable bodies and minds.
    • Island of the assassins: Cannabis, spectacle, and terror in Alex Garland's The beach

      Stephenson, William; University College Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2005-06)
      This article discusses the use of the cannabis, spectacle, and terror in Alex Garland's novel, The Beach. The author argues that Garland's novel is a most contemporary text, exposing disturbing contradictions in the West's current ideology and behavior.
    • Mapping ‘Wordsworthshire’: A GIS Study of Literary Tourism in Victorian Lakeland

      Donaldson, Christopher; Gregory, Ian; Murrieta-Flores, Patricia; University of Birmingham; Lancaster University; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2015-08-14)
      This article answers the call for scholarship that models the implementation of geographic information systems (GIS) technologies in literary-historical research. In doing so, it creates a step change to the integration of digital methodologies in the humanities. Combining methods and perspectives from cultural history, literary studies, and geographic information sciences, the article confirms, challenges, and extends understanding of Victorian literary tourism in the English Lake District. It engages with the accounts of several nineteenth-century tourists, paying specific attention to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s English Notebooks and Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley’s A Coach Drive at the Lakes, which are examined alongside contemporaneous guidebooks and other commercial tourist publications. In the process, the article draws attention to a spatial correlation between the route of the Ambleside turnpike (the Lake District’s principal coach road) and the major literary sites to which Victorian Lakeland visitors were guided. Recognizing this correlation, we contend, helps to deepen our appreciation of how the physical and imaginative geographies of the Lake District region interrelate. Specifically, it helps us appreciate how the Victorian fascination with the Lakeland’s literary associations was modulated not only by interest in the region’s other attractions, but also by material conditions on the ground.
    • Moderating Religious Identity and the Eclipse of Religious Wisdoms: Lessons from Hans Frei

      Fulford, Ben; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2017-06-16)
      The multivalent binary distinction between radical and moderate religion plays a key part in the rhetoric and strategy of European governments in their attempts to produce European Muslim citizens whose primary political loyalty lies with the society and state in which they live. It also plays a key part in public discourse about European Muslims and their citizenship. In what follows, I focus especially on one relatively constructive use of the distinction in the UK, offer an account of its logic through a reading of the political theology of John Locke and a critique of its effects upon a religious tradition that draws on the analysis of Hans W. Frei. Frei’s account suggests that to the extent that this logic has shaped Christian self-understanding, it tends to eclipse the wellsprings of the critically constructive engagement of Christians in the public sphere and public institutions constitutive of a pluralist, democratic society. This assessment in turn raises questions about the impact of the moderate/radical binary in respect of sources of constructive critical engagement by citizens with other religious identities.
    • “Of every land the guest”: Aubrey de Vere’s travels

      Fegan, Melissa; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2016-06-01)
      The experience of travel, the figure of the traveller, the relationship between landscape and nationality, and a complex attitude towards colonization are extremely important in the poetry and prose of Aubrey de Vere. Alongside ideas of emigration and exile in the Irish context, the wider intellectual and spiritual significance of travel is explored in poems such as ‘A Farewell to Naples’, ‘Lines Written Under Delphi’, or ‘A Wanderer’s Musings at Rome’, and in de Vere’s travel book Picturesque Sketches of Greece and Turkey (1850). De Vere’s ideal traveller must be hardy, embracing “an emancipation from the bondage of comforts”, and reining in his exuberant Romantic sensibility with careful “management of the mind” and “moral temperance”. This is very far removed from “that universal nuisance”, the Philistine Englishman abroad, of whom he is reminded all too frequently, particularly in Greece and in the Ionian islands, a British protectorate. But de Vere’s self-definition against the English traveller begins to unravel in Constantinople, where he embraces a new national identity as a Frank among an alien people. His experiences in the East also redefine his understanding of Ireland as “an Eastern nation in the West”.
    • Of lostness and belonging: Interview with John Conyngham

      Blair, Peter; Chester College of Higher Education (Taylor & Francis, 2003-04)
      This article is an interview with the South African-born novelist John Conyngham, author of The arrowing of Cane (1986), The desecration of the graves (1990), and The lostness of Alice (1998).
    • The Picture of Artificial Intelligence and the Secularization of Thought

      Leung, King-Ho; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019-04-17)
      This article offers a critical interpretation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a philosophical notion which exemplifies a secular conception of thinking. One way in which AI notably differs from the conventional understanding of “thinking” is that, according to AI, “intelligence” or “thinking” does not necessarily require “life” as a precondition: that it is possible to have “thinking without life.” Building on Charles Taylor’s critical account of secularity as well as Hubert Dreyfus’ influential critique of AI, this article offers a theological analysis of AI’s “lifeless” picture of thinking in relation to the Augustinian conception of God as “Life itself.” Following this critical theological analysis, this article argues that AI’s notion of thinking promotes a societal privilege of certain rationalistic or calculative ways of thought over more existential or spiritual ways of thinking, and thereby fosters a secularization or de-spiritualization of thinking as an ethical human practice.
    • A Place to Rest Your (Burnt) Bones? Mortuary Houses in Early Anglo-Saxon England

      Meyers Emery, Kathryn; Williams, Howard; George Eastman Museum; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2017-10-05)
      This article presents a fresh interpretation of square and rectangular mortuary structures found in association with deposits of cremated material and cremation burials in a range of early Anglo-Saxon (fifth-/sixth-century AD) cemeteries across southern and eastern England. Responding to a recent argument that they could be traces of pyre structures, a range of ethnographic analogies are drawn upon, and the full-range of archaeological evidence is synthesized, to re-affirm and extend their interpretation as unburned mortuary structures. Three interleaving significances are proposed: (i) demarcating the burial place of specific individuals or groups from the rest of the cemetery population, (ii) operating as ‘columbaria’ for the above-ground storage of the cremated dead (i.e. not just to demarcate cremation burials), and (iii) providing key nodes of commemoration between funerals as the structures were built, used, repaired and eventually decayed within cemeteries. The article proposes that timber ‘mortuary houses’ reveal that groups in early Anglo-Saxon England perceived their cemeteries in relation to contemporary settlement architectures, with some groups constructing and maintaining miniaturized canopied buildings to store and display the cremated remains of the dead.