‘Daphne du Maurier, Invasion and Environmental Catastrophe: 'The Birds' and Rule Britannia’ - Tea Time Talk
Dr Catherine Wynne, Reader in English, Faculty of Arts, Culture and Education
This talk centres on Daphne du Maurier’s short story ‘The Birds’ (1952). First published in Good Housekeeping, the story focuses on seemingly unprovoked bird attacks in Cornwall. Only the central character, a farmer, perceives that the birds are intent on killing humans. The story recalls German aerial bombardments of Britain and speaks to the Cold War of the 1950s. Nat’s wife questions whether America will help them. Read today, however, Du Maurier’s story is prescient about climate change as the actions of the birds are seen as ‘connected’ with ‘change’ in ‘the arctic circle’. This talk further addresses Du Maurier’s concerns about the implications of tourism in Cornwall and her contribution to this with her popular Cornish fictions. In Rule Britannia (1972) the question of Nat’s wife in ‘The Birds’ becomes a reality as America invades after Britain votes to leave the EEC. The incursion of American troops evokes the avian invasion of ‘The Birds’. Resistance, like much of the climate change movement today, is launched by the youth.
Dr Catherine Wynne has recently published Lady Butler: War Artist and Traveller, 1846-1933 (Four Courts Press, 2019). She is also Gothic specialist who publishes on Bram Stoker. Bram Stoker, Dracula and the Victorian Gothic Stage appeared with Palgrave in 2013 and a two-volume scholarly edition of Stoker's theatrical reviews and writings on the theatre was published in 2012 with Pickering and Chatto. She is also a Conan Doyle expert. An essay on Daphne du Maurier was published in her edited collection, Bram Stoker and the Gothic: Formations to Transformations (Palgrave, 2016).
Her work on Du Maurier and the Gothic contributes to the continued development of research into the Gothic at the University of Hull, addressing in this talk the relationship between Gothic productions and environmental issues.
This talk is part of ‘Gothic Nature’ Tea-Time Talk Series
This series of talks celebrates the research and teaching of the Faculty of Arts, Culture and Education at the University of Hull.
Cost: Free Admission – All welcome but booking is required in order to guarantee a place and to enable us to ensure we have an adequately sized room booked for the session.
Telephone: 01482 466585
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