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The John Rylands Research Institute

Visiting professors

The Institute is pleased to welcome distinguished academics as part of our Visiting Professors programme.

March 2017 - Professor Tracy C. Davis, Barber Professor of Performing Arts, Northwestern University, USA.

Tracy C. Davis is Barber Professor of Performing Arts at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL, USA). Her work on 19th-century British theatre history, gender and theatre, theatre historiography, and performance theory has resulted in numerous books, including Actresses as Working Women: Their Social Identity in Victorian Culture (1991); George Bernard Shaw and the Socialist Theatre (1994); The Economics of the British Stage, 1800-1914 (2000); Theatricality (2003); Stages of Emergency: Cold War Nuclear Civil Defense (2007); The Broadview Anthology of Nineteenth-Century British Performance (2011); The Cultural History of Theatre (6 volumes, 2017), and Uncle Tom's Cabins: the Transnational History of America's Most Mutable Book (2018).  

Her current research is based in the Rylands Library’s Raymond English Anti-Slavery Collection. These letters, diaries, and scrapbooks demonstrate how two generations of British abolitionists aligned their efforts as rhetoricians to create international then transnational then networks of human rights advocates. Unlike more famous yet equally effective figures from the abolition movement, George Thompson honed his powers as a speaker in a working men’s debating society. Instead of receiving formal post-secondary training, his son-in-law Frederick Chesson prepared for his career as an organizer, author, and activist by acutely observing performance: lectures, sermons, parliamentary debates, political meetings, and deputations schooled him in the broad and fine points of self-presentation and persuasion. Additionally, for Chesson and his wife Amelia Thompson Chesson, the theatre, opera, and concerts served as part of a continuum of performance types ripe for evaluation, emulation, and adaptation in service of their aims. 

This adds up to both a microhistory—challenging ideas about mid-Victorian marriage and gender—and a macrohistory of how daily activities accumulate to constitute the work of anti-colonial, anti-racist, and anti-genocidal critiques. The Thompson and Chesson families emerge as an important hub for global networks of lecturers, politicians, diplomats, missionaries, and activists whom they corresponded, recreated, and debated, promoting numerous causes nationally and internationally. In the Radical tradition, they were stalwarts of human rights. As progressivists, they advocated religious tolerance, education, and colonial reform and engaged widely with ideas circulating in music, theatre, visual arts, poetry, fiction, life-writing, and political theory. Their subjectivity was formed through political activism—in Manchester and across the North, London, India, and America—and manifest through profound commitment to self-improvement and service to others as wholly secular evangelists.  During her time with the Institute Professor Davis will hold a Masterclass for students detailed below and a public lecture, tickets for the Public Lecture can be booked on Eventbrite.

Masterclass - "How do you Know a Mermaid When you See One? How do you See a Mermaid when you Know One?"

23 March 2017  -  This event will be held in the Conference Centre, Graduate School, Ellen Wilkinson Building, 10 a.m. - 12 noon.  To book onto this Masterclass please contact PhDsalc@manchester.ac.uk

Performance is constituted by knowledge repertoires understood by collaborating artists; where these representations overlap with audiences' knowledge repertoires there is legibility in performance.  But how does a repertoire get forged? This presentation draws from hundreds of original designs that stage variants on mermaids and mermen as corporealized and kinetic characters to document how a repertoire was created, how it consolidated, and how it remains legible after 200 years.  

March 2017 - Professor Alan Bowman, Vice President (Humanities) British Academy.

Professor Alan Bowman, a distinguished Papyrologist, was born in Manchester in 1944.  He was educated at Manchester Grammar School (1955-62), The Queen’s College Oxford (Literae Humaniores 1962-6), and the University of Toronto (PhD 1969). He was  Assistant Professor of Classics at Rutgers University, New Jersey (1970-2), Lecturer in Ancient History, University of Manchester (1972-7), Official Student and Tutor in Ancient History at Christ Church, Oxford (1977-2002), Camden Professor of Ancient History and Fellow of Brasenose College 2002-10, Principal of Brasenose College (2010-5).  He was Director of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, University of Oxford. He was President of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies (2001-5) and is Vice-President (Humanities) of the British Academy (2013-7). His research interests include: Greek and Latin Papyri from Egypt under the Ptolemies and the Romans, the Greek and bilingual Inscriptions of Ptolemaic Egypt, the Vindolanda Writing-tablets, The Roman Economy, the use of computers and information technology for imaging and deciphering ancient documents. During his time with the Institute Professor Bowman will give a public lecture entitled: Memory Vision and Cognition: Deciphering Ancient Documents in the Digital Age.  Tickets for this lecture can be booked on Eventbrite.

Masterclass - The Devil and the Detail: emending readings, changing meanings

24 March 2017

In this class Professor Bowman will discuss re-readings of passages in cursive texts on wooden tablets and papyri and in inscriptions, in which minor palaeographical and linguistic improvements lead to significant changes in historical interpretation. The texts will be drawn from the papyrological  and epigraphical material from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, and the fro the Romano-British writing-tablets.

October 2017 - Professor Graham Mooney, Department of the History of Medicine, John Hopkins University (USA) 

Graham Mooney is an Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA, where he holds a joint appointment in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Born in Manchester, he completed his BA and PhD in Geography at the University of Liverpool. In the UK he held research and lectureship positions in geography, history and public health before moving to Johns Hopkins in 2003. His first book, Intrusive Interventions: Public Health, Domestic Space and Infectious Disease Surveillance in England, 1840-1914 is about the control of epidemic diseases through the practices of disease reporting, isolation, disinfection and contact tracing. He is currently writing two books. Harm City? The Fracturing of Public Health in Neoliberal America is based on a course he teaches at Johns Hopkins about the history of public health in Baltimore. His other book project, Healing Spaces: Historical Geographies of Healing Practice, considers how healers of all kinds have produced and adapted different spaces to facilitate, promote, and authorize particular forms of healing. During his time at the JRRI, he will be using the collections of the Manchester Medical Collection to research the development of emergency services in Great Britain in the twentieth century.  During his time with the Institute Professor Mooney will hold a Masterclass for students, give a Public Lecture and hold a seminar within the Centre for History Science Technology and Medicine.

Masterclass - The Waiting Room: A Neglected Space in the History of Medicine

This masterclass explores the historical role of waiting in healing practices, and the spaces associated with it. A wide range of visual evidence—including paintings, photographs, and newsreels—is used to analyze the ways in which waiting, as a form of mobility, is incorporated into the healing experience through the relational space of the waiting room. The informal exchange of information, formal modes of education, and practices of triage that take place in waiting rooms, can be interpreted through structures of professional power, class, gender, and race.  Booking details for this event will follow nearer the date of the Masterclass.

Seminar - Centre for History Science Technology and Medicine - Healing in Transit: Moving Towards a Critical History of the Ambulance

According to the US office of the Inspector General, in 2011 there were almost 15 million ambulance journeys of Medicare recipients alone. Almost 5 million of these were emergency trips that required advanced life support. There is no doubt, then, that the ambulance has become an important space for the delivery of medical care: what happens in an ambulance can mean the difference between life and death. This seminar briefly traces the roots of the modern road ambulance to the battlefields of Napoleon’s 1797 Italian campaign and how it was adopted in civilian life over the course of the next 150 years. It then compares the development of the ambulance in the US and the UK in the period after World War II, unpicking the multitude of spatial metaphors of this healing-in-transit, including “pre-hospital care,” “mobile intensive care,” and “intensive care flying squads”. In so doing, the talk draws on the insights of critical mobilities studies to suggest how the history of the moving patient might be reconceptualized by also seeing such people as passengers.

Previous Visiting Professors  

January 2017 - Professor Frederic Bauden, Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Liège (Belgium)

Professor Bauden is responsible for teaching various subjects ranging from language and literature to religion, history to history of art. A graduate of the University of Brussels, he trained at the historical-philological school created by Armand Abel (1903-1973), one of the most famous Belgian Orientalists. Initially, he specialized in Islamic studies, which included publishing a critical edition and annotated translation of a history of the Prophet's close relatives written by Muhibb al-Din al-Ṭabarī, a Meccan author from the thirteenth century.

For several years, he devoted himself to historical studies where philology continues to play a leading role. The discovery and identification of the autograph notebook of the Egyptian historian al-Maqrizi (d. 1442) in the manuscript collection of the University of Liège was a turning point in his career. Since then, he focuses his studies on the work of this author, especially its modus operandi. In this perspective, he launched the Bibliotheca Maqriziana series (published by Brill) of which he is the main editor and whose purpose is to provide definitive critical editions with annotated translations and studies of al-Maqrizi’s opera omnia, all done by experts in the field of which each work is part. Ultimately, the opera omnia of al-Maqrizi will be available in two versions (printed and electronic) allowing researchers to have easy access to all of his texts.

Besides his interest in codicology and paleography, he specialized in the study of documents of the pre-modern Islam, essentially from the Mamluk period. His many works in this field have recently earned him to be elected member of the Commission Internationale de Diplomatique. His skills in the study of writing in all its forms, which is central to most of his research, is recognized by his participation in numerous international research projects where he is in charge of issues relating to numismatics, epigraphy and diplomatics.  With Marlis Saleh (University of Chicago) and Antonella Ghersetti (Università Ca 'Foscari Venezia), he also helped founding the School of Mamlūk Studies, which aims to strengthen links between researchers studying various aspects of this period. Since 2014, an international symposium is held annually, and a seminar on a little discipline taught in universities and intended, primarily, to PhD students and postdocs.  In 2014, he launched the Ex(-)Libris Ex Oriente project which scope is to collect paratextual elements essential for the study of the transmission of texts (and manuscripts) in Islam.  

During his time with the Institute Professor Bauden, gave a master class entitled; A holistic approach to manuscript studies, and a public lecture entitled; "of Buying Many Books There is No End": Towards a History of the John Rylands Library's Collection of Islamic Manuscripts.  Further details of these events can be found in past events.