Creating Knowledge Conference – Public Humanities

Paul Whitfield – Department of Humanities (History)
The Dronfield School Strike of 1914

 On the front page of its edition of Saturday 7 February 1914 the Derbyshire Courier carried a photograph of a woman sitting at a desk. Underneath the photograph was the text –

“The Lady Who Dared. Miss Outram, headmistress of the Dronfield Girls’ School, whose action in teaching eugenics to her senior pupils has aroused a storm of indignation in the town and made her the most-talked-of teacher in England.”

In late 1913, Miss Outram was Standard Six Girls class teacher and headmistress at Dronfield Elementary Council School in Dronfield, Derbyshire. During a lesson with her pupils a discussion developed about sex and sexual relationships. One of the girls reported this to her parents and a scandal erupted. Outrage followed amongst many parents and members of the wider Dronfield community. There were demands for Miss Outram’s dismissal. Parents withdrew their children from the school. The local and national Boards of Education became embroiled. The local and then the national press latched on to the story and a nationwide press debate about eugenics, sex education and morality ensued. The event continued acrimoniously into 1914.

This event is the focus for my MA by research. I will talk about how I am examining a range of sources to fully understand the events in their contemporary context.  I will also outline plans to share the story of the Dronfield School Strike with a wider audience (the story is currently very little known in Dronfield, let alone beyond).


Ellie Johnson – Department of Humanities (English)
“It takes no prisoners this stuff doesn’t, it can’t happen to anyone” – Understanding Conceptualisations of Addiction from a Cognitive Stylistic Perspective

My prior undergraduate stylistic research demonstrated that conceptualisations of addiction exist on a continuum and are constantly influenced by embodied experiences. This continuum moves from choice to illness and is dependent upon social norms, which are formed by an individual’s understandings of whether a person who uses drugs needs them to function. Fundamentally, addiction is a complex and multi-faceted area of research which encompasses several unfamiliar strands of interdisciplinary work which need further attention. With this in mind, I have decided to explore how professionals who believe in diverse models of addiction conceptualise substance use and also the potential consequences that these different conceptualisations can have for notions such as identity, power and blame. The data will be analysed through a linguistic lens from a cognitive poetic viewpoint in order to answer two main research questions:

  1. What do professional’s utterances reveal about conceptualisations of drug use and addiction?
  2. What potential consequences do these conceptualisations create?

Essentially, the implementation of Conceptual Metaphor Theory will enable me to analyse how metaphor is used in key passages of the discourse. By employing a cognitive stylistic approach, I will be able to combine detailed linguistic analysis with a theoretically informed consideration of how cognitive structures and processes motivate professional’s production of language and subsequently treatment and therapy for substance dependence. – An essential procedure if we are to gain a true understanding of how people think about addiction.


Tom Payne – Department of Humanities (Stage and Screen)
Doppelgangster’s Everybody Loses

In 1957, the eminent herpetologist Dr. Karl Patterson Schmidt was bitten by a juvenile boomslang snake (Dyspholidus typus) at the Chicago Natural History Field Museum. Over the course of the next twenty-four hours he recorded his symptoms in what was to become his ‘death diary’ (Pope 1958).

In his 2015 essay, ‘Learning to Die in the Anthropocene’, American author Roy Scranton draws upon Samurai philosophy, Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza’s writings on death, and his own personal experience as a soldier in Iraq in 2003, to make the case that if we wish to live in the Anthropocene (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000) we first need to learn how to die. The dawn of each new day, he suggests, should be recognised as the death of that which came before. It is only in accepting this that we can begin to live with dignity and without fear in the face of our own extinction.

In UK/Australian performance company Doppelgangster’s Everybody Loses (2017), Schmidt’s diary provides a narrative framework through which to interrogate Scranton’s ideas and the meta themes of climate change and the sixth great extinction. By staging death and inviting spectators to ‘linger’ with the performer in the space before, Scranton’s provocation is given theatrical form and myriad ecological relational antagonisms are enacted.

In this presentation, Everybody Loses co-creator and performer Tom Payne draws upon Timothy Morton’s concept of ‘dark ecology’ (2007, 2018) and the ‘dark ecology of elegy’ (2012), as well as ecological thought from within the field of Performance Studies in order to explore, situate and extend the ‘ecological thought’ (Morton 2010) made apparent in Everybody Loses.