Oxford Seminar of Pinfoldian Interest

Oxford University has announced a seminar that may be of interest to Waugh scholars. It is open to current members of the university and is entitled “Laura Marcus Workshop: Autobiographical Fiction and the 1950s Telepathy Wave.” It will be led by Professor Marina Mackay (St. Peter’s College) and is scheduled for 10 May 2024, 10:30 (Friday, 3rd week, Trinity 2024). Here are the details:

Britain in the 1950s saw a widespread popular interest in the possibility of psychic communication across distance: from the 20-million-strong audiences for radio telepaths ‘The Piddingtons’ at the start of the decade to the widely publicised and puzzlingly inconclusive trial at the decade’s end of George de la Warr’s pseudo-scientific radionic box. Instructively, one of the best archives of this now-forgotten cultural phenomenon is the avowedly autobiographical fiction of an and about the period. In major 1950s novels by (for example) Rebecca West, Antonia White, Muriel Spark, and Evelyn Waugh, these half-believed-in, half-disbelieved psychic technologies of remote communication are used not merely as (sometimes comic, sometimes emphatically not) features of their plots, but also as means to reflect on the problem of transmitting one’s own experience across historical distances—distances that, for us as readers now, are only accentuated by the obvious ephemerality of such cultural-historical phenomena.

Please note that this event is ONLY open to current members of the University of Oxford. Workshop places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis with priority given to members of the English Faculty. Places will be confirmed one week before the event.

Tea/coffee and cake will be served during the workshop.

This event will take place in the St Cross building on Manor Road. Attendees are advised to wear face coverings while indoors and to use an LFT prior to the event.

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