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The Powys Society Conference 2019: Speakers

Goulven le Brech

Goulven was born in 1977. He studied philosophy at university and earned an MA in archival management. He is head archivist at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences. He is a specialist in the study of the French philosopher Jules Lequier (1814-1862). Goulven has co-authored a book, with Patrick Hamelin, about JCP entitled Une Philosophie de la Vie, les Perseides, 2012, and is the author of an article Two Great Adventurers of the Mind, in la lettre powysienne, No.28, Autumn 2014. In the years 1920, right after the publication of his first philosophical book The Complex Vision, John Cowper Powys published several essays in the Little Blue Books: The Art of Happiness, The Secret of Self Development and The Art of Forgetting the Unpleasant. Those short essays present his "philosophy of life" as it will be developed later in bigger essays such as In Defense of Sensuality. In his talk Goulven will ask these fundamental questions: why did JCP feel the need to propose a practical philosophy at this time from the point of view of his personal life and from the point of view of the state of the world and the society in which he lived? What role did Emanuel Julius Haldeman, the publisher of the Little Blue Books, play in this moment of his work? What were John Cowper Powys's expectations of the Little Blue Books?

Chris Campbell

Chris is a Senior Lecturer in Global Literatures at the University of Exeter. His research focuses on the intersections of world literature, postcolonial theory and environmental criticism. He is particularly interested in Caribbean literature and culture, world-ecology and postcolonial ecocriticism, and histories of broadcast culture and empire. He is currently developing a collaborative project – Commodity Fictions: World Ecology and World Literature in the ‘long’ Twentieth Century– that focuses on the period 1890 to the present and uses the world-ecological perspective as basis for a new form of literary comparativism. The project examines literary responses to the forms of environment-making through which a selection of key commodity frontiers (including sugar, cacao, coal, tin, stone and gold) have developed across the globe. Chris has published articles in the Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Green Letters and New Formations and contributed chapters to collections in the fields of world literature, ecocriticism and postcolonial studies. He has co-edited two collections on Caribbean literature and the environment: ‘What is the Earthly Paradise?’: Eco-critical Response to the Caribbean (Cambridge Scholars, 2007) with Erin Somerville and, with Mike Niblett, The Caribbean: Aesthetics, World-Ecology, Politics (Liverpool University Press, 2016). Taking as his starting point the image and representation of limestone in the works of two twentieth century global literary giants, he will offer a cross-cultural reading of the prose of John Cowper Powys and the poetry of Kamau Brathwaite. He will consider how processes of stone quarrying and digging the earth contribute to the cultural imaginaries of each author as they piece together an archaeology of historical memory. Dr Campbell suggests that a comparative world-literary approach can make the case for reading the modernist aesthetics of Powys together with the poetic innovations of Brathwaite to more fully account for the lived experiences of limestone landscapes both in the Caribbean archipelago and in the west country of England.

David Goodway

David was a founder member of the Powys Society in 1969 and the first vice-chair, a position he again occupies (for the third time). A historian, from 1969 he taught mainly adult students at the University of Leeds until it closed its School of Continuing Education in 2005. His books include Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow, Left Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward (2nd edition, 2012), with two chapters devoted to John Cowper Powys, and an edition of the correspondence between J. C. Powys and Emma Goldman (2008). David presented a talk at the 2017 Powys Society Conference in 2017 entitled: Gerald Brenan (1894-1987, Bloomsbury, Gamel Woolsey and Spain, published in the Powys Journal, Vol. XXVIII, 2018 and contributed a review of ‘A New Type of History: Fictional Proposals for Dealing with the Past’ by Beverley Southgate, in the Powys Journal, Vol. XXVIII, 2018.

Richard Perceval Graves

the brothers powys, richard percival graves, (kindle edition)

Richard was Chairman of the Powys Society between 2001 and 2005. He is the nephew of poet and novelist, Robert Graves and is the financial director of GWS Media based in Bristol. Richard is a widely known lecturer and the author of biographies of T E Lawrence (1976), A E Housman (1979), the Powys Brothers (1983 [now available as an e-book]), Robert Graves (1986-1995) and Richard Hughes (1994).

Janice Gregory

Janice is the great niece of Alyse Gregory and Llewelyn Powys. Janice resides in Newburyport, Massachusetts where she writes and runs a business coaching company. She has spent most of her career as a professor and small business advisor for the University System of New Hampshire. Janice earned her BA in English literature from Harvard College and her master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School. Janice reviewed The Tortured Life of Scofield Thayer, by James Dempsey in the Powys Journal, Vol. XXVI, 2016 and edited the letters of Alyse Gregory to Louis Wilkinson 1937-1939, published in the Powys Journal, XXVII, 2017. She has also written an introduction for Alyse Gregory’s 1926 novel, She Shall Have Music, (Sundial Press, 2017). Janice developed an avid interest in Alyse Gregory when she discovered in 2011 that the Sundial Press had republished Gregory’s novels.  Much to her delight and enrichment, Janice also met members of the Powys Society at our annual conference that year.  Having had a memorable encounter as a young girl with her great aunt, Janice has relished delving into Alyse Gregory’s background.  The author of Alyse Gregory: A Woman at her Window, Jacqueline Peltier, has provided invaluable assistance in Janice’s work which has also included research into Alyse Gregory’s correspondence and journals archived at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Throughout her life, Alyse Gregory adamantly kept to the shadows. Yet she wielded considerable power in determining the careers of modern writers, first, in her role as The Dial’s managing editor and confidante to its owner, Scofield Thayer, and then, as Llewelyn Powys’ wife. Janice’s talk will bring Gregory and her choices into the light.  It will examine the crucible of Gregory’s times and family background which forged the woman she became. They illuminate Gregory’s decision to leave The Dial at the height of the magazine’s and Gregory’s influence, as well as her undiminished deep loyalty to Powys. It will examine her relation to Powys with Gamel Woolsey and finally touch on Gregory’s life after Powys’s death.

Elmar Schenkel

Elmar was born in 1953 in Westphalia and teaches English Literature at the University of Leipzig (he will be emeritus by the time of the conference). He has also taught at Amherst/Mass., Konstanz, Tübingen, Freiburg, and has lectured in Russia, India, Taiwan and other countries. Elmar wrote his PhD on JCP (1983). He has also written books on British Poetry and the Sense of Place, biographies of H G Wells and Conrad, and a study of Tolkien. He has written on the subject of literature and bicycles and is also the author of novels, essays and travel books as well as poetry. Elmar has contributed articles on JCP to German language periodicals such as Akzente and Fluschage as well as to la lettre powysienne and to the Powys Review No.11, 1982/1983], From Powys to Pooh: Some Versions of Taoism in British and American Literature [PR Nos. 31 & 32]), and to the Powys Society Newsletter, (Taking Tea with Nietzsche’s Sister: John Cowper Powys in Weimar and Saxony [PSN No. 22, July 1994]). Elmar is currently a Warden of the Nietzsche birthplace Museum in Röcken. His talk will connect biographical and literary/philosophical observations on JCP’s relationship with Nietzsche. Powys was one of the few thinkers/writers during WWI to keep his faith for Nietzsche trying to protect his philosophical thoughts from either German nationalists such as his sister Elisabeth or from the allies who tried to blame the war on Nietzsche. Though he had visited Elisabeth in Weimar a few years before the war he had a keen sense of ideological abuse. Elmar Schenkel will also speak about his work as a warden at Nietzsche's birthplace and tomb near Leipzig and about the reception of Nietzsche in the world in order to provide a setting for Powys's particular response.