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This chapter considers how the powerfully controversial modernist novelist Joseph Conrad acquired his reputation as the first truly ‘global’ writer. A trilingual Polish expatriate, Conrad’s transnational identity was shaped by – and in turn helped shape our understandings of – a new sense of global interconnectedness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In texts such as Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim and Nostromo, his engagement with what we would now call globalization is bedevilled by paradox and ambivalence. His writing scorns European globetrotters even as it beholds the world via a privileged Western gaze. His innocent fascination with maps is haunted by a guilty awareness of their political and ideological functions. Under no illusions about the vicious impact of European imperialism on non-European cultures, he often represents those cultures as voiceless, one-dimensional and exotically unknowable. Finally, his idealization of the sea as a bracingly pure alternative to the sordid political world of terra firma is steadily undercut by his sense that maritime space has long since been colonized by capitalist modernity.
Issues in the public presentation and interpretation of the archaeology of Hadrian's Wall and other frontiers of the Roman Empire are explored and addressed here. A central theme is the need for interpretation to be people-focussed, and for visitors to be engaged through narratives and approaches which help them connect with figures in the past: daily life, relationships, craft skills, communications, resonances with modern frontiers and modern issues all provide means of helping an audience to connect, delivering a greater understanding, better visitor experiences, increased visiting and spend, and an enhanced awareness of the need to protect and conserve our heritage. Topics covered include re-enactment, virtual and physical reconstruction, multi-media, smartphones, interpretation planning and design; while new evidence from audience research is also presented to show how visitors respond to different strategies of engagement. Nigel Mills is Director, World Heritage and Access, The Hadrian's Wall Trust. Contributors: Genevieve Adkins, M.C. Bishop, Lucie Branczik, David J. Breeze, Mike Corbishley, Jim Devine, Erik Dobat, Matthias Flück, Christof Flügel, Snezana Golubovic, Susan Greaney, Tom Hazenberg, Don Henson, Richard Hingley, Nicky Holmes, Martin Kemkes, Miomir Korac, Michaela Kronberger, Nigel Mills, Jürgen Obmann, Tim Padley, John Scott, R. Michael Spearman, Jürgen Trumm, Sandra Walkshofer, Christopher Young.
Many visitors (and would-be visitors) to the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site find the task of interpreting and understanding the visible archaeological remains somewhat challenging. Over a number of years in the role of Head of Multimedia in the Hunterian Museum, and as an Associate Lecturer with the School of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow, the author has been exploring ways of addressing this issue. Multimedia technologies have the potential to aid in the presentation and interpretation of archaeological sites, and their associated artefacts held in local museums collections, for a wide range of public audiences.
The coming of age of interactive digital information and communication technologies has provided cultural heritage organisations with a range of opportunities to utilise these ever more flexible digital technologies to provide access to their cultural resources in increasingly innovative ways. The advent of the World Wide Web, over 20 years ago now, presented heritage organisations with a unique opportunity to provide access to their resources to a truly global audience. Resources which hitherto were only available to those fortunate enough to live within travelling distance of archaeological sites or museum collections were suddenly accessible via the then new medium of web technology. Moreover, many museums around the world saw the potential to turn this new medium into additional virtual display space in which to reveal many artefacts that had been languishing in storage or in reserve collections.
It is not difficult to find images of the Romans and information about Ancient Rome in contemporary sources. There are cartoons, picture books for young children, Hollywood films, television comedies, websites, school textbooks and popular histories for the general public, children's toys and violent computer games. This chapter discusses why the Romans and their barbarian enemies have been badly or incorrectly portrayed so often and for so long. In the UK, school textbooks from the 19th century and throughout most of the 20th century have often failed to present what classical texts, archaeologists and historians have revealed. More than that, these early school resources hardly ever presented any evidence for the authors' bold statements of presumed fact. This chapter also discusses the role of information books for children and the use of cartoons in storybooks about the Romans.
Although schools had existed since the early medieval period in Britain there was little opportunity for most children, and especially for girls, to be educated until parish schools became more common in the 17th century. The Education Act of 1870 created the opportunity to build secular day schools all over the country. School Boards were established in most districts and built public elementary schools, many of which still survive today as primary schools. Many children were educated at home in the 19th century and this promoted the growth of suitable textbooks for mothers or governesses to use in the home. Several history textbooks were written by women, sometimes using pen names, which demonstrated publishers' understanding of the market available to them.
‘But Dad, history is boring and the Romans are the most boring bit of it all.’ I may have paraphrased my son's attempted justification for not doing homework but the essence of his argument is, and was, very plain. A similar argument was deployed always when discussing going to visit one of the site museums on Hadrian's Wall; and yet a walk along the Wall where ‘British war parties’ (children), waiting in ambush for Roman supply columns (parents), were routinely ‘flushed-out’ by Roman scouts (the dog) but rallied to win the ensuing battle, were, for a time, one of the most attractive of weekend activities.
Where have we, as teachers, academics and interpreters gone so badly wrong? How have we managed to make the Romans such a hated topic? Readers may think I overreact but on a very brief and totally unsystematic survey (conducted in the last few minutes with two of my children and eight of their friends, home for lunch from school), the result was almost unanimous: the Romans are the most boring part of history — with one dissenter identifying ‘Medicine Through Time’ (although, when pressed by his peers, he acknowledged that the worst bit of this was ‘The Romans and the beginning of public health’ as there was no gruesome dissection or surgery to talk of …).
If the reports of recent critics are anything to go by, Under Western Eyes should carry a health warning: a novel about the duplicity of language, it is itself adroitly duplicitous; an ‘aggressive text’, it ‘hates its readers’ and ‘routs the liberal subject’. This is evidently not a novel for the faint-hearted, yet rumours of its aggressive designs on the unsuspecting reader have, if anything, served only to enhance its reputation. In the wake of a series of scholarly reassessments, many of which lay powerful emphasis of the linguistic self-consciousness of the novel, the critical standing of Under Western Eyes has never been higher.
Espionage and political violence are as central to Under Western Eyes as they were to The Secret Agent; the novels also share a decidedly edgy relationship with the ‘general reader’. But in terms of its representation of language and human subjectivity, Under Western Eyes might be read as a brutally unsentimental rewriting of Lord Jim. Kirylo Sidorovitch Razumov, the novel's studiously innocuous hero, commits a grievous betrayal of trust and is pursued from St Petersburg to Geneva by compromising rumours and echoes of his guilt. The St Petersburg/Geneva dichotomy superficially resembles the Patna/Patusan split in Lord Jim; but for Razumov there is no Patusan, no compensatory linguistic utopia, no Jim-like martyrdom – only a final deafness that functions both as a sadistic ‘remedy’ for his fear of words and as a violent caricature of the general reader's own ‘deafness’ to the finer nuances of Conrad's prose.
Chance is Conrad's problem novel. Published in 1914, it occupies an ambiguous position between his most celebrated creative phase, which culminated with Under Western Eyes (1911), and the comparatively neglected work of his ‘decline’. It is the most ‘feminine’, or female-oriented, of Conrad's novels, but its engagement with issues of gender is tainted by the arch misogyny of Marlow, whose clumsy and unsympathetic line in anti-feminist repartee is never convincingly challenged or dialogized in the text. Also problematic is the novel's unwieldy narrative structure, which, with its convoluted time-scheme and strange ensemble of variously limited or unreliable narrating voices, presses the techniques of ‘Heart of Darkness’ and Lord Jim dangerously close to self-parody. Any serious reading of Chance must begin by confronting these problems, not in a bid to explain them away, but in order to move to a fuller understanding of the vexing relationship between the novel's curious structure and provocative substance.
The notion of Conrad as an irredeemably homocentric, even ‘macho’ writer has been challenged so forcibly in recent years that it is worth reminding ourselves of the kind of material that gave rise to it in the first place. The following remarks, by the narrator of ‘Because of the Dollars’, suggest that the view of Conrad's world as an exclusively masculine environment is not without foundation in the texts themselves: ‘Ours, as you remember, was a bachelor crowd; in spirit anyhow, if not absolutely in fact. There might have been a few wives in existence, but if so they were invisible, distant, never alluded to.’
In 1907, when he already had some of the greatest novels in English to his name, Joseph Conrad confessed to Marguerite Poradowska that ‘l'Anglais m'est toujours une langue etrangère’. Like so many of the major modernist authors whose work has been assimilated into the canon of English literature, Conrad was an ‘outsider’, a foreigner on whom posterity has conferred the status of honorary Englishman, but who probably belongs with that later group of twentieth-century writers described by George Steiner as ‘extraterritorials’. Born in the Czarist-ruled Polish Ukraine in 1857, Conrad joined the French navy in 1874 before obtaining a berth on a British vessel in 1878. Seventeen years later he published his first novel, Almayer's Folly, the beginning of a career that produced some of the most venturesome fiction in the literature of what was his third language. The transformation of Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski into Joseph Conrad was a prodigious feat of literary self-fashioning; but Conrad took profound exception to being paraded in the literary journalism of his day as ‘a sort of freak, an amazing bloody foreigner writing in English’. It is very easy – and rather misleading – to assume that the English language was an obstacle between Conrad and creative expression; one could argue with equal justification that Conrad's sense of estrangement from his adoptive tongue was the very enabling condition of his fiction. We would do well to consider the possibility that Conrad wrote his masterpieces because rather than in spite of the English language.