18 February 2013

Imagined States: Literature and Law

Please join us for the next seminar of Inventions of the Text 2012/13

Imagined States: Literature and Law

Dr. Katherine Baxter

Northumbria University


Tuesday 26th February 2013

5:30 – 7:00 pm

Department of English Studies, Hallgarth House Seminar Room


Speaker: Dr. Katherine Baxter, Northumbria University

This paper will introduce my current monograph project, Imagined States: Law and Literature during Nigerian Decolonization. This project explores the presentation of the law in popular and canonical literature from and about Nigeria between c.1910 and 1966. I proceed from the observation that law and literature both attempt to delimit the human world in distinct yet similar ways. Laws, in prescribing boundaries to human action, reflect the ideals of the social institutions they intend to uphold. Likewise fiction, whether it endorses or challenges legal and social norms, is ineluctably conditioned by the ideals and ideologies of those institutions. Law and literature thus can be seen as privileged sites of imaginative and ideological construction. By examining how such imaginative constructions play out in both popular and canonical fiction this project offers a new approach to, and an important reconsideration of, late colonialism and decolonization in Nigeria.

The paper will introduce the project as a whole before providing specific examples of the textual analyses I am developing.


Following Dr. Baxter's first degree in English and Hebrew, she was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow in July 2003. She then worked for several years in London both as a lecturer and as a cataloguer and curator at the British Library. In 2007 Dr. Baxter was appointed as Research Assistant Professor in Cross-Cultural Studies in English at the University of Hong Kong. She then moved, in 2010, to the United States where she was a lecturer at Stanford University before joining Northumbria University in 2011. Dr. Baxter's work is characterized by my longstanding interest in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary scholarship. British and West African twentieth-century literature form the main focus of my research. She is also interested in literary bilingualism as well as archival issues.

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