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Inaugural Lecture: Professor Katherine Baxter

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What’s love got to do with it? Law and Literature in 1920s British Somaliland

How did literature shape British perceptions of the colonies in the interwar years? And what opportunities did literature provide for debating how the colonies should be governed?

This lecture investigates these questions and it does so through discussion of a novel by Margery Perham, one of the most influential voices on British colonial policy in Africa in the period. While Perham is better known for her non-fiction, her first attempt to explore how Britain should govern its colonies is ‘Major Dane’s Garden’, a romantic novel set in British Somaliland. This lecture situates Perham’s novel alongside the contemporary history of 1920s British Somaliland, on the one hand, and alongside the recent craze for desert romance instigated by E. M. Hull’s whirlwind success, ‘The Sheikh’, on the other.

About the Speaker

Following her first degree in English and Hebrew, Katherine was awarded her 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 she 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.

Katherine’s work is characterized by her longstanding interest in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary scholarship. Colonial and postcolonial literatures form the main focus of her research alongside an interest in literary multilingualism, and law and literature studies.

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