Dr Paul March Russell, Lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature, gave a keynote address at the Borders, Intersections and Identity in the Contemporary Short Story in English conference at the University of Santiago de Compostela in May.
Paul’s topic was Daisy Johnson’s short story collection, Fen, which he explored in terms of the borderlines between human and animal identities, especially between the blurred lines between human and natural activity in the East Anglian landscape.
Paul also gave another keynote address titled ‘On the Threshold of Sexual Difference: Re-Gendering the Eerie in Daisy Johnson’s Fen’ at the Current Research in Specualtive Fiction conference in Liverpool on Thursday 6 June. Here, Paul continued to explore Johnson’s work while also discussing his preliminary researches into New Wave science fiction and the Decadent imagination.
“Both talks examined Daisy Johnson’s short story collection, Fen, in relation to Mark Fisher’s conceptualisation of the eerie,” Paul explains, “The first did so by looking at a series of ‘border crossings’ – geopolitically (the relationship of the Fenland periphery to the economic heartland of ‘Silicon Fen’), geologically (the deep time of the Fens), and ecologically (in the encounters between humans and other kinds of non-human life). The second drew on the last of these themes, and explored in more depth Derrida’s claim that human-animal encounters occur ‘on the threshold of sexual difference’ by examining the ways in which Johnson describes sexuality through the meetings between human, animal and non-organic life-forms.”