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Literary expert joined UCLan educational event

11 May 2015

Rachel Atkinson

Novelist Caryl Phillips took part in interdisciplinary symposium  

 

A renowned author has visited the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) as part of a special literary event.

Caryl Phillips, who has been named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and has been awarded a Martin Luther King Memorial Prize during his illustrious career, recently attended the Lost Children: The Black Atlantic and Northern Britain – An Interdisciplinary Symposium.

The educational event, which took place over two days at UCLan’s Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR) and the Bronte Parsonage Museum, in Haworth, brought historians, visual artists, cultural critics and writers together to discuss black presences across generations in the North from the 1770s to the present day. It also coincided with the launch of Caryl’s new novel The Lost Child, a prequel to Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.

“I have never been involved with a gathering that managed to pack so much into 48 hours, yet make everything appear to be so seamless and under control."

(Pic l-r: IBAR Co-Director Professor Alan Rice, film-maker Sikay Tang, performer Joe Williams and novelist Caryl Phillips.)

He read excerpts from his latest work along with passages from his highly-acclaimed, Booker Prize nominated, book Crossing the River. Following the symposium he said: “I have never been involved with a gathering that managed to pack so much into 48 hours, yet make everything appear to be so seamless and under control.

“The atmosphere was both rigorously intellectual and convivial and familial, an almost unique combination to achieve in an academic setting. I appreciated the international nature of the cast you assembled, and the wide range of presentations from lectures, theatrical performance, film showings, panel discussions, readings and, of course, the actual excursion to Haworth and the walk/lecture/reading in and around the Parsonage.”

During the trip to Haworth, UCLan’s Victorian expert Dr Theresa Saxon led a guided tour of Brontë Country and UCLan’s Professor Alan Rice convened a reading and Q & A session with Phillips organised with the Bronte Parsonage Museum that discussed Bronte connections. Other keynote presenters at the symposium included University of Portsmouth’s Dr Jessica Moody, an expert on Liverpool and its memory of slavery and Newcastle University’s Dr Fionnghuala Sweeney, an expert on Ireland, Britain and the Black Atlantic.

“This was a landmark interventional event to celebrate the contributions made by Black artists and writers from Northern England and Scotland, and African Atlantic visitors to these regions."

Visual artists exhibited their work including Manchester-based Kooj Chuhan and Scarborough-born Jade Montserrat, while the late Scottish artist, Maud Saulter’s work was also featured. New York filmmaker Sikay Tang presented her film Toby’s Paradise about the sojourn from Liverpool to Shanghai of a Nigerian-born sailor while Joe Williams performed his solo play, The Fishes of Isis, an insightful portrait of Pablo Fanque, the British-born Victorian circus owner of African origin.

IBAR Co-Director Alan Rice, Professor of English and American Studies, said: “This was a landmark interventional event to celebrate the contributions made by Black artists and writers from Northern England and Scotland, and African Atlantic visitors to these regions, who have been and continue to be influential even though they are often forgotten and ignored in traditional accounts and histories.”

Caryl attended UCLan last year for the official launch of IBAR. He added: “The work you've done in the past 12 months has not gone unnoticed by scholars and writers on both sides of the Atlantic, and your Institute is now firmly 'on the map'.”