• Adam Piette, Professor of Modern Literature, University of Sheffield:
    “Sputniks, Ice-Picks, KGB: Nabokov’s Pale Fire”

The paper will be looking at Nabokov's novel in terms of allusion to Cold War assassination narratives, unpacking the specific and coded references to anti-communist portraits of Stalinist hit-men, in particular with relation to the death of Trotsky.

Adam Piette is the author of Remembering and the Sound of Words: Mallarmé, Proust, Joyce, Beckett and Imagination at War: British Fiction and Poetry, 1939-1945.

Book Launch: His latest book, The Literary Cold War, 1945 to Vietnam (Edinburgh University Press, 2009), is a study of the psychological and cultural impact of the Cold War on the imaginations of citizens in the UK and US. The Literary Cold War examines writers working at the hazy borders between aesthetic project and political allegory, with specific attention being paid to Vladimir Nabokov and Graham Greene as Cold War writers. The book looks at the special relationship as a form of paranoid plotline governing key Anglo-American texts from Storm Jameson to Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, as well as examining the figure of the non-aligned neutral observer caught up in the sacrificial triangles structuring cold war fantasy. The book aims to consolidate and define a new emergent field in literary studies, the literary Cold War, following the lead of prominent historians of the period.

  • Alan Morrison, Honorary Fellow, University of Westminster:
    “Virginia Woolf: War and Patriarchy”

This paper examines Virginia Woolf’s response to World War I, including her critique of John Singer Sargent’s painting Gassed. It will also deal with her relationship with Peace and Anti-Fascist movements in the 1930s, and the hostile response to her arguments concerning militarism and patriarchy in Three Guineas, published in 1938.

Alan Morrison is also a Research Associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and teaches on the Museum Studies Master’s Program at Johns Hopkins University. He is currently working on education and exhibition programmes linked to the centenary commemorations of World War I.