Category Archives: Speakers

‘Nobrow, No Boundaries’

Online presentation by Michael Cheuk (HKU SPACE Po Leung Kuk Community College)


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‘Hamid’s Moth Smoke and Shahraz’s The Holy Woman in Light of Butler’s Notion of Performativity’

Online Presentation by Sara Rashed (International Islamic University Islamabad)


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“Commodification of Folklore: A Study of Laila and Majnun in Consumer Culture”

Online Presentation by S. B. Malik and Muhmmad Usman Ghani


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‘Rediscovering Female Literary Voices of the Subcontinent (1880 -1950)’

Online Presentation by Munazza Yaqoob, Sofia Hussain, and Sonia Irum

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‘Encountering the Dark Mother: Ritwik Ghatak and Shock in a Cinema Hall’

Online Presentation by Saurav Sengupta (Damdama College, Gauhati University)

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keynote profile: Yvonne Tasker

Silence of the Lambs

In this third edition of the Keynote Profile series, we are honoured to introduce Professor of Film and Television Studies Yvonne Tasker (University of East Anglia), whose groundbreaking research on gender and action cinema that makes her an original force in the field of the Marginalised Mainstream. This research led to Action and Adventure Cinema (2004) and Spectacular Bodies: Gender, Crime and the Action Cinema (1993).

Yvonne is a prolific scholar, with an immense body of work behind her, including Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture (2007) and Silence of the Lambs (2002). She has also written several essays for BFI Flipside, which is re-telling ‘the untold history of British film’ through its re-release of the cornerstones and lost treasures of British cinema.

Her research continues to explore questions of gender, race and sexuality in film and television, postfeminist media culture, security, trauma and loss in crime television. Her most recent work considers depictions of gender and military culture on screen, which yielded her latest book, Soldiers’ Stories: Military Women in Cinema and Television since WWII (2011). She is currently working with Professor Diane Negra on a new book of essays, Gendering the Recession.

Yvonne teaches courses on gender and contemporary cinema, as well as on criminal investigation TV serials, which, as an avid watcher of innumerable police procedurals, makes this writer wish she lived nearer UEA.

Yvonne can be found at:

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keynote profile: Kate Macdonald


For our second Keynote Profile, we are very excited to introduce Dr Kate Macdonald. Kate lectures at Ghent University, Belgium, on British literary history and culture, and a former academic editor. Returning Marginalised Mainstreamers will remember her as leader of last year’s conference workshop, Shame, the report for which you can find here.

Kate is a leading authority on the writing of Scottish author John Buchan, and has published extensively on the writer. She has a passion for recovering forgotten but one-time best-selling authors, such as Dornford Yates, Angela Thirkell and Una L. Silberrad, and is an active part of the current drive to increase the reach (and reputation) of middlebrow research, through works including The Masculine Middlebrow, 1880-1950: What Mr Miniver Read (2011). Her edition of Una L. Silberrad’s The Good Comrade (1907) will be published soon by Victorian Secrets.

Kate is currently also lead series editor for the Pickering & Chatto monograph series, Literary Texts and the Popular Marketplace (as well as being the editor of an inordinate number of essay collections, mostly on twentieth-century British literary history), which has been releasing a steady stream of really interesting titles. The most recent publication, which Kate edited with Nathan Waddell, is John Buchan and the Idea of Modernity (May 2013).

Outside official academic life, Kate is passionate about the dissemination of academic research to the marketplace. Two of her primary outlets for this is her podcast series, Why I Really Like This Book (22,000 downloads since May 2010 and counting), and the independent book-blogging collective Vulpes Libris.

Kate can be found at:

You can also listen to her fascinating interview with Alison Turner about World War One poetry, in a series called Armistice Day for Expats in Belgium, for PRX.

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keynote profile: Nicola Humble


In our first of our Keynote Profile series, we would like to introduce Professor Nicola Humble (Roehampton University). I think all three of the organisers have come in contact with Nicki at various conferences over the years, including the excellent ‘Popular and the Middlebrow: Women’s Writing, 1880-1940’ conference up in Newcastle last April.

Nicki studied English at Wadham College, Oxford, followed by a PhD on Robert Browning and history. She has been at Roehampton University since 1992 where she teaches nineteenth and twentieth-century English literature, including a course on the literature of food which is the first in the country.

Nicki is an incredibly broad-ranging scholar. Although she specialises in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and cultural history, Nicki particularly focuses on middlebrow fiction, the literature, culture and history of food, historiography, women’s writing and children’s literature. Nicki is currently looking at domestic crafts in Britain, from the eighteenth century to the present, as part of a major project that looks at the literature and culture associated, provisionally entitled Home Making: The Domestic Arts in Literature and Culture 1750-2010. She also continues her work on various aspects of the middlebrow, including middlebrow and camp and the figure of the bachelor in the masculine middlebrow.

Among the many works she has published are The Feminine Middlebrow Novel, 1920s to 1950s: Class, Domesticity and Bohemianism (2001), the award-winning Culinary Pleasures: Cook Books and the Transformation of British Food (2005) and Cake: A Global History (2010), as well as and an Oxford edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (2000).

Nicola Humble can be found at:

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External CFP: European Middlebrow Cultures, 1880-1950


European Middlebrow Cultures, 1880-1950: Reception, Translation, Circulation

17-18 January 2014, Royal Flemish Academy for the Humanities and Art, Brussels, Belgium

Keynote speakers: Professor Kristin Bluemel, Monmouth University, Professor Christoph Ehland, Universität Paderborn, and Professor Dirk De Geest, Katholiek Universiteit Leuven

This two-day conference intends to extend the well-established study of 20 middlebrow texts and authorship, to investigate how European literary cultures from 1880 may be examined for evidence of middlebrow writing, reading and production. This may be as a borrowed literary phenomenon through translation and assimilation, or as an indigenous pan-European cultural movement that has hitherto been obscured by a focus on modernist cultures.

Since the 1980s, the study of middlebrow literary productions and authors has become a strongly emergent movement in anglophone literary research. ‘Middlebrow’ was first used to describe a particular stream of cultural production in the 1920s, first in British and Irish newspapers, and soon after in critical writing by notable cultural authorities such as Virginia Woolf, Arnold Bennett, and Q D Leavis. ‘Middlebrow’ was always a pejorative term, used to demarcate writing and reading, and initially also musical taste, from, simultaneously, the modernist and the lowbrow. Middlebrow books and authors were rejected by those who required intellectual innovation in their leisure reading, and who privileged challenge and complexity over enjoyment, familiarity and ease in what they read, and wrote. Readers of middlebrow writing had intellectual expectations, but these were moderate rather than extreme. Middlebrow writing was concerned with established literary traditions, and was ‘an imaginative projection of lived experience conducive to a negotiation of identity and emotional “entertainment” in the sense of providing sustenance’ (Habermann 2010, 35). Yet this categorisation was fluid. ‘Middlebrow could be a mode of reading, a stratum of society, a class of book, or a state of mind’ (Macdonald 2011, 11).

The importance of the study of middlebrow is derived from its close relationship, in the British context, with class, and, in the American context, with the rise of twentieth-century consumerism. These socio-historical dimensions offer a rich resource for the scholar in analysing many different aspects of middlebrow cultures, from different perspectives. Examining middlebrow texts will reveal a non-normative and non-restrictive understanding of literary dynamics in terms of how texts were constructed and how they were received.

Most of the recent publications and conferences on middlebrow focus on anglophone texts, authors, publishing and marketing. There has been very little scholarly work published on non-anglophone middlebrow cultures, until the last five years: Van Boven et al (2008 & 2012), Sanders (2008), Van Boven (2009), Provenzano and Sindaco (2009), and Rymenants and Verstraeten (2009 & 2011). However, despite this recent work, without the input of research and scholarly discourse on middlebrow cultures in Europe, in languages other than English, the continuing study of middlebrow is artificially truncated by being limited to only authors working in English, and the interpretation of the anglophone world. An emerging community of researchers on middlebrow in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France (and undoubtedly in other European countries) need a forum to meet, discover each other’s work and initiate new collaborations.

This call for papers for a conference aims to attract a wide range of international researchers working on questions around middlebrow outside the anglophone sphere. These may include:

  • Translation of anglophone middlebrow texts into European languages
  • Film adaptations of middlebrow texts
  • Book Clubs and other commercially-oriented lists
  • The Continental edition and other publishers’ series
  • Tauchnitz and anglophone best-sellers
  • The middlebrow book review in different media
  • The literary critic in different media as mediator and arbiter
  • Middlebrow reading and cultural respectability
  • Parallel critical reputations

The primary aim of the conference will be to offer a platform for these researchers to present their work and discuss methodologies, and network informally on subjects of mutual interest. Secondary aims will be to discern strands of middlebrow research that make connections across languages, cultures, historical moments, and authors and texts. Publication of a volume of scholarly essays is planned, drawing on papers presented at the forum, and by commissioning essays from specialists.

By offering this contact forum for researchers in European middlebrow cultures, this conference will rebalance the anglophone dominance of the field, and make space to discuss research on European middlebrow cultures in the twentieth century. The conference will be open to papers on either of two strands of investigation: (1) research into European middlebrow cultural productions in languages other than English, and (2) research into the reception of anglophone middlebrow cultures in mainland Europe.

The language of the conference will be English, for practical reasons, but informal translation and interpretation into and out of Dutch, German and French may be possible.

We invite abstracts (of no more than 300 words, in any European language) that describe the background, subject and preliminary findings of your presentation. If you plan to present your paper in a language other than English, please provide an English translation of the abstract as well. Please send these to, by 1 September 2013, and include a contact email and postal address. We welcome abstracts from independent scholars as well as those from university researchers. Enquiries can also be sent to the above email address.

Kate Macdonald, Universiteit Gent, Belgium

Koen Rymenant, independent scholar

Mathijs Sanders, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Netherlands

Erica Van Boven, Groningen Universiteit, Netherlands

Pieter Verstraeten, Katholiek Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

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third keynote confirmed

Silence of the Lambs

We are delighted to announce that Professor Yvonne Tasker (University of East Anglia) will be joining our plenary speakers for the second Marginalised Mainstream conference.

The film studies expert will be joining Dr Kate Macdonald (Ghent University) and Professor Nicola Humble (University of Roehampton) for the September 2013 event.

We will be posting short biographies for each of our keynote speakers in the days to come, so you can meet our panel and be inspired by their expertise.

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