Reading group

The Anglo-Russian Research Network autumn reading group


The Anglo-Russian Research Network will be holding its autumn reading group at 5:30 on Friday 27 November at Pushkin House, Bloomsbury. We will be discussing Russian and British diplomacy in the nineteenth century, led by the historian Barbara Emerson. The readings can be downloaded from the link below.

British historians of Anglo-Russian relations in the nineteenth century have portrayed Britain as a peace-loving empire, concerned only to protect her overseas possessions, in particular India, and her highly- successful trade. However, what emerges clearly from the dispatches and private letters in the Russian archives is that Britain was seen as a dangerous expansionist power bent on countering Russian power in Europe and preventing Russia from establishing herself in Central Asia on a footing comparable with that of Britain in India. No bones were made about the aim to dismember the Ottoman Empire. Successive Russian ambassadors in London, who remained en poste for long periods of time, were on good terms with the British establishment, but even they did not understand the liberalism that underpinned British foreign policy in the 19th century. The Polish revolution of 1830, brutally put down by Russia, marked the turning point after the relatively civil relations that followed the Napoleonic Wars. The two countries were then constantly at loggerheads. They were only once at war, the Crimean War, but were several times on the brink of hostilities over Central Asia, the Great Game, and Russia’s aim to capture Constantinople. Although Britain’s relations with the other European powers fluctuated, deep-seated mistrust of Russia and her ambitions, Russophobia, became ingrained in British foreign policy and in the mind of the general public. Anglophobia dominated the thinking of policy makers in St. Petersburg. A political psychosis developed that blinkered both Britain and Russia in their relations with each other. When, early in the twentieth century, they came to see that they had each more to fear from Germany than from each other major differences were resolved in the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907.

Barbara Emerson read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at St. Hilda’s College Oxford, and is the author of several books on nineteenth-century diplomatic history, including a biography of Léopold II. She has just completed a book about Anglo-Russian diplomatic relations during the nineteenth century.

If you plan to attend, it would be helpful if you could let Rebecca Beasley ( and/ or Matthew Taunton ( know. The discussion will finish at 7, and anyone available is very welcome to join us for dinner nearby.

Reading group

London Cantos Reading Group

The London Cantos Reading Group will meet on the below dates at the University of London’s Senate House to discuss individual sections of The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Attendance is free, everyone is welcome and wine and poetry will be provided. We meet at 18.00 on Friday evenings, room details will be available in reception.

Oct 9, Harry Gilonis, Independent Scholar, Canto 36

Nov 13, Michael Coyle, Colgate University ,Canto 88

Dec 11, Mary Ellis Gibson, University of Glasgow, Pound and India

Jan 22, Galateia Demetriou, University of Birmingham, Canto 30

Feb 12, Annabel Haynes, Durham University, Canto 20

March 11, Kent Su, University College London, University of London, Canto 49

May 13, Peter Howarth, Queen Mary University of London, Canto 101

Postgraduate Reading group Seminars Workshop

‘Literary Cosmopolitanism: Theory and Practice’

‘Literary Cosmopolitanism: Theory and Practice’

A one-day Graduate Workshop

Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, Birkbeck, University of London

19 November 2015

Call for Participations

Cosmopolitanism, etymologically derived from the Greek for ‘world citizenship’, offers a radical alternative to the ideology of nationalism, asking individuals to imagine themselves as part of a community that goes beyond national and linguistic boundaries. Together with the cognate concepts of inter-nationalism and trans-nationalism, cosmopolitanism has become a widespread and contentious term within literary studies, affecting our understanding of nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature in particular.

This one-day graduate workshop is designed to introduce doctoral students to the current critical debate on cosmopolitanism. It will consist of a seminar based on pre-circulated critical material followed by the opportunity to relate the discussion to the participants’ individual research. The workshop is open to PhD students in all areas of nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary studies (English, comparative literature, modern languages), from all universities, but it is limited to a maximum of 15 participants. No previous knowledge of theories of cosmopolitanism is required. There is no registration charge and lunch will be provided as part of the event. Two small travel bursaries are available for participants coming from further afield.

In order to secure a place, or for general enquiries, please write to Prospective participants should send a CV and a short statement of maximum one page stating how they envisage that attending the workshop will benefit their research by 30 September 2015 at the latest.

‘Literary Cosmopolitanism: Theory and Practice’ is part of the AHRC-funded project The Love of Strangers: Literary Cosmopolitanism in the English ‘Fin de Siècle’ (PI Stefano Evangelista, Oxford University). It is a collaboration between Birkbeck, University of London and Oxford University. The workshop will take place in London and will be led by Stefano Evangelista, Ana Parejo Vadillo, and Clément Dessy.

Reading group



The Anglo-Russian Research Network will be holding its summer reading group at 5:30 on Friday 19 June at Pushkin House, Bloomsbury. We will be reading and discussing how a group of Russian press correspondents shaped Russian conceptions of Britain in the early twentieth century. The discussion will be led by Dr Anna Vaninskaya of the University of Edinburgh. The readings can be downloaded from this link (password required).

Few casual or professional observers of Russian media coverage of Britain today stop to reflect on its centuries-old history.  But long before the internet, television and radio, the Russian periodical press supplied a running commentary on contemporary British developments and offered different versions of Britain for the consumption of general audiences.  In the early twentieth century, London was home to a community of Russian foreign correspondents who fed the curiosity of the public back home, reinforced national prejudices and stereotypes, but also composed accounts that are interesting in their own right as social documents of Edwardian Britain.  Among their number one finds immediately recognisable figures such as Korney Chukovsky and Samuil Marshak, as well as people now entirely forgotten, but at the time acknowledged to be the leading architects of the Russian perception of Britain.  The session will focus on selections from the voluminous correspondences of Dioneo (Isaak Shklovsky) and Semyon Rapoport, newly translated into English as part of a project to bring these rare but fascinating historical sources to Anglophone readers.  In line with the current media focus on the SNP and the effects of austerity, the chosen excerpts will deal with Scotland and the London working class – from a 1900s Russian point of view.  Background material will also be provided.

If you plan to attend, it would be helpful if you could let Rebecca Beasley ( and/ or Matthew Taunton ( know. The discussion will finish at 7, and anyone available is very welcome to join us for dinner nearby.