1 – 7 December, Charlotte Mathieson

This week’s curator is of particular interest to me (Krissie): not only is she a literature researcher, but specializes in Victorian literature AND is based at the University of Warwick, whose Arts Centre figured largely in my formative years. So I am very much looking forward to hearing about her research and arts-related projects.

Hello, I’m Charlotte Mathieson; I usually tweet as @cemathieson and you can also find out more about me on my website. I’m a Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS), University of Warwick. My research is on Victorian Literature; I completed my PhD in Warwick’s Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies a few years ago, and I’m just finishing writing up my thesis into a monograph on journeys in the Victorian novel. My book explores the role that journeys play in forging relationships between gender, nation and place in the Victorian novel; I look at novelists like Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Charlotte Bronte and Elizabeth Gaskell. I’m also interested in the contemporary cultural role that journeys play in our reception of authors today, and I’m working on several pieces around literary tourism in contemporary settings, such as the Dickens bicentenary in 2012. So I’ll be tweeting a bit about the Victorians, their literary legacies, and what role tourism, especially literary tourism, has to play in current cultural engagement with the humanities.

In addition to my research, my job involves working on a number of IAS projects. For the past two years I was Director of the University of Warwick Book Festival at Warwick Arts Centre (BookFest): I established the inaugural one-day Festival in 2013, and expanded this to a two-day event featuring over 50 authors in 2014. The Festival aimed to engage local audiences with inspiring research-led ideas across a whole range of subjects, from poetry and philosophy to art and espionage – authors ranged from the writer Louis de Bernières to ex-CIA agent Tony Mendez of the Ben Affleck film Argo. Gaining hands-on experience of running public engagement activity on a large scale has been invaluable for me, and led me to ask a lot of questions about the meaning and value of engaging with public audiences, what makes for ‘successful’ public engagement, and in particular what is the value of the humanities in public life; I hope to discuss some of these themes next week!

The final aspect of my job involves working to support early career researchers who hold fellowships at the IAS; I run a programme of activity to develop our ECRs, and have been involved in a lot of additional work in supporting ECRs on career-stage issues. During my week as curator I’ll be particularly interested to engage with early career scholars around current debates about the humanities, thinking about what it means to be an ECR working in the humanities today, and how ECRs can be active in shaping the wider cultural currency of the humanities through their work. I’ll also be interested in discussing the opportunities that exist for ECRs to explore ‘alternative’ or ‘non’-academic careers in the humanities.

I look forward to tweeting with you all next week!

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