Kristin Bluemel, Ph.D., professor of English and Wayne D. McMurray and Helen Bennett Endowed Chair in the Humanities, delivered the plenary lecture at a one-day Rural Humanities Workshop sponsored by NICRE, the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise associated with Newcastle University, in Northumbria, England, on May 3.
Her talk, “Placing Humanities at NICRE: Rural Modernity, Rural Modernism, and the Promise of Interdisciplinarity,” marked a new initiative led by Newcastle University Dean of Research and Innovation, Matthew Grenby, Ph.D., to integrate humanities into the largely social science field of British rural studies.
Bluemel’s position as Leverhulme visiting professor within Newcastle University’s School of English has launched the university’s new efforts to define the emerging field of rural humanities. The NICRE Rural Humanities Workshop was held in The Catalyst, which is located within the new £350 million Helix development, a 24-acre hybrid City-University, public-private development in the center of Newcastle that brings together businesses, academia, the local community, technology and science.
Bluemel’s NICRE plenary talk was the third of five Leverhulme Lectures that she is delivering during her seven-month research leave spent in England. She has already delivered Leverhulme Lectures at the University of Glasgow’s Stirling Maxwell Centre for Study of Text/Image Cultures and Newcastle’s Lit & Phil, the city’s famed independent library founded in 1793. Her remaining Leverhulme Lectures will take place at the University of Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life and at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley. Her lecture topics have ranged from the 18th century children’s chapbooks of Newcastle wood engraver Thomas Bewick, to the 20th century illustrated books of women wood engravers who took Bewick as their model, to Beatrix Potter and rural modernity.