Research Award on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Work in Samoa, Hawai’i and Scotland – FE News
A team from the University of Chester and the University of Edinburgh have been awarded just over £1million to research the work of Robert Louis Stevenson.
The UK Arts and Humanities Research Council is contributing £809,000 to fund Remediating Stevenson: Decolonising Robert Louis Stevenson’s Pacific Fiction through Graphic Adaptation, Arts Education and Community Engagement, a three-year project in Scotland, Samoa and Hawai’i . Professor Michelle Keown (Edinburgh) will lead the research with Dr Shari Sabeti (Edinburgh) and Dr Simon Grennan (Chester).
The project explores the legacy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s peaceful writing, investigating the relevance of his work to contemporary readers in Samoa, Scotland and Hawai’i, and producing new art and poetry inspired by the three short stories published in Stevenson’s 1893 collection. Island Night Entertainment. These include The imp of the bottle and The Island of Voices – both set in Hawai’i – and Falesa beachrooted in Stevenson’s experience of Samoan culture.
Stevenson’s work and legacy in the Pacific presents a particularly valuable focus, given that educational institutions around the world are actively engaged in decolonizing their curricula. Stevenson was actively involved in supporting indigenous Samoan and Hawaiian sovereignty movements at a crucial time, just before the annexation of those islands by the United States and Germany. Yet his peaceful fiction, albeit iconoclastic in featuring indigenous protagonists with considerable agency and dignity and offering a critical proto-modernist analysis of Western imperialism, still maintains many of the typical colonial stereotypes of literature. western end of the century.
In partnership with Hawaiian, Samoan, and Scottish educators and NGOs (non-governmental organizations), the research will engage directly and broadly with contemporary members of the Indigenous communities depicted in its fiction, involving them at every stage of the research process through through community participation. To research.
The research will situate Stevenson’s graphic adaptations and original stories within the multimodal context in which Stevenson was working in the late 19th century, producing an edited collection of essays, project poetry, and interviews with the project artists; Newspaper articles; and materials on the project website. In particular, the research will analyze the relationship between Stevenson’s fiction and his Pacific travel writing; ethnography; historiography; photography; letters and paint.
Dr Grennan said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with contemporary Hawaiian and Samoan students, artists and writers over the next three years, to adapt Stevenson’s Pacific stories from the 1890s, building on existing groundbreaking work – undertaken in Chester – to make graphic adaptations of 19th century fiction.
Professor Keown commented: “The project will produce the first-ever multilingual graphic adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s three stories Island night entertainment, commission new poetry by Pacific indigenous authors and develop a set of accompanying teaching resources for use in Samoa, Hawai’i and Scotland. Additionally, it will produce the first-ever documentary film exploring contemporary Samoan perspectives on Stevenson and will build the capacity and confidence of aspiring indigenous writers and creative artists. The project will also support the decolonization of collections within participating museums by organizing an exhibition and related online event situating Stevenson’s original Pacific publications, letters, photographs and artifacts in new contexts, thus making Stevenson’s work more accessible to the public.
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