Atlantic World Lunchtime Colloquia 2013 - 2014
Everyone has to eat, and scholars and researchers usually like to talk. So the Atlantic World Research Network sponsors lunchtime colloquia to encourage the exchange of ideas around the table.
These lunchtime gatherings bring together 15 or so selected UNCG faculty and graduate students from a variety of disciplines, along with other guests, to enjoy a hearty lunch, thanks to the support of College Dean Tim Johnston, and to share in interdisciplinary conversations about doing Atlantic-World-related research. These conversations are led by fellow UNCG faculty members or by distinguished visiting scholars.
Lunchtime colloquia will meet in 2012-2013 on varied weekdays (see below) from 11:45 am-1:30 pm. We will meet in MHRA 1607, the Research and Partnerships conference room on the first floor of the Moore Humanities and Research Administration Building's research wing. Colloquia will be led by colleagues from varied disciplines, but with a shared purpose: to explore life around the Atlantic Rim in ways that will spark new approaches, provide useful responses to work-in-progress, and reflect on the shared project of transatlantic studies.
As of April 2014, the 2012-2013 Colloquium schedule is as follows:
November 4, 2013
|A Tourist at Pemberley||James Evans
Professor of English
April 7, 2014
|Urban Griots- (Re)imagining the Word||Robin Gee
Associate Professor of Dance
“A Tourist at Pemberley”—James Evans
Nov 4, 2013
We opened by thanking Dean Johnston of the College of Arts and Sciences for funding our first colloquium of the year. Professor Jim Evans of the English department, a specialist in eighteenth-century literature, began with a clip from the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth and the Gardiners visit Pemberley estate. (This scene was shot on location at Chatwsorth House in Devonshire.)
Professor Evans explained that the word “tourist” was first recorded around 1800-1803. For many years the aristocracy made a “Grand Tour” of the continent as part of their education, but by the 1780s more unlanded gentry were able to travel for pleasure. Because more of these “tourists” were businessmen who could not afford to take as much time away from trade, there was a growth in domestic travel throughout England and the United Kingdom. Even Wordsworth, who complained about tourists in the Lake District, eventually wrote a travel guide for “persons of taste and feelings for landscape.”
Austen herself had participated in tourism in England, including a visit to Chatsworth, the seat of the Duke of Derbyshire. Pemberley represents the display of wealth and very British taste with the emphasis on nature instead of artificial landscaping. The fact that the Gardiners and Elizabeth must apply for admittance in order to see the house also reveals the power dynamics; aristocrats used this permission as a way to reinforce their power and status, but it also shows that the Gardiners are well-bred and genteel in spite of trade. As part of the narrative device to reunite Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, the housekeeper at Pemberley slips into a bit of (harmless) gossip; travelers accounts’ of the era mentioned the behavior of household staff or some of the uncertain boundaries between “tourists” and invited guests. The revelation of Darcy’s “real elegance (displayed in the art collection) and his great experience allowed Austen to critique Elizabeth’s rather narrow perspective.
Colloquium attendees then discussed the cultural significance of this early tourism. In the days before formal museums and galleries, visiting aristocratic estates was the main way to see major works of art. Tourists gained not just cultural capital, but a temporary escape from industrialization and urbanization as they got to the countryside and traditional “Old England”. For the landed gentry, this was an opportunity to show that there was culture and sophistication outside of London. By the Victorian era, domestic tourism was a way to increase knowledge and friendship of one’s fellow residents in the United Kingdom; there were also subtle traces of the “pilgrimage” mentality.
Discussion then turned to modern estates and cultural tourism. Present-day earls and aristocrats must still manage large estates; they frequently moderate tenant disputes out of court or become heavily involved in environmental, land-use negotiations. Boundaries and jurisdiction are complicated when private homes are located in the middle of public parks and national organizations have to work with local landowners. Literary tourism—visiting authors’ birthplaces or filming locations—has been a huge boost to local economies. However, there is criticism that such institutions are almost exclusively for the white, privileged classes and aren’t representative of modern England. Those who grow up in England may get “great house fatigue” and there is still a bit of condescension towards “typical tourist” activities.
"Urban Griots - (Re)imagining the Word”--Robin Gee
Apr 7, 2014
Robin Gee, Associate Professor of Dance, discussed her Fulbright Fellowship experience in Africa. She related her experience researching the Jaliya performance castes of West Africa and the opportunities and challenges that arise when things do not go according to plan.
- For the first part of her talk, she discussed the Jaliya and their role in Western African culture as keepers of oral tradition and cultural memory;
- She notes the cultural crisis due to encroaching urban landscapes and the migration of younger generations to the city.
- For her Fulbright, Robin was invited to teach contemporary, jazz and African American dance at the Conservatoire Nationale de Ballafesseke Kouyate (the national conservatory) in Mali:
- She intended to introduce a perspective in a traditionally European-influenced field.
- However, events did not go according to schedule as a coup d'etat in the spring of 2012 forced Robin to reformulate her plans:
- From Mali she moved to her second choice – Burkina Faso, which has a history of cooperation with Fulbright scholars;
- She saw her teaching and fieldwork stall as no dance program existed at the University of Ouagadougou, and the caste system that included the Jaliya was nonexistent there (thus forcing her away from the original focus of her field research.
- Despite these setbacks, Robin found other opportunities in Burkina Faso:
- Contacts at American Embassy appointed Robin to represent the State Department at FESPACO (Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou), the largest African film festival--the “African Oscars”;
- She performed with J Metro as part of an embassy-sponsored tour;
- She delivered a lecture series on African-American contributions to American concert dance as part of embassy-hosted program for Black History Month.
- Having described her travels, Robin then showed a series of videos and pictures relating her experiences:
- Mask dances:
- Dvjula cultural ceremony mourning and celebrating deceased loved ones;
- Performed by farmers rather than members of a specific caste;
- The youth, affected by modern culture, do not buy into traditional ceremonies and experience them in very different ways.
- Robin outlined her future plans:
- She will take a UNCG student group to Burkina Faso in 2015;
- She will return to FESPACO to sit on a prize jury.
To see titles and descriptions of colloquia from past years, click on the links below: