Keynote speakers

It is a huge pleasure to announce the  two plenary speakers of Borders and Crossings 2017.

Our first plenary speaker, flying proudly the Aberystwyth flag, will be Mary-Ann Constantine, Senior Research Fellow at the National University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies.

Mary-Ann is a specialist of Romantic-era Welsh literature, both in Welsh and in English, and of the interactions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ forms of literature. She has worked on a succession of research projects, most of them in connection with some form of travel. Thus, the ‘Wales and the French Revolution’ AHRC-funded project led to the publication of the travels into revolutionary France and America of a Dissenting minister. Currently, she is Principal Investigator on the project ‘Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour‘, gathering the writings of this important traveller, and investigating his impact on travelling practices. She is also the author of two collections of essays and of a novel.

Mary-Ann’s plenary, on Monday evening at the Old College, will be: ‘Shipwrecked Monkeys: Coasts, Trade and Travel in Romantic-era Wales’.


It is our pleasure to have on Tuesday a Creative Arts Plenary, which will be given by Caryn Louise Leschen. Caryn is a cartoonist, writer and illustrator from San Francisco, California. She is the creator of the syndicated advice comic and podcast, Ask Aunt Violet, and Aunt Violet’s Travel Tips. She was the editor of several issues of Wimmen’s Comix, most notably #17: The Kvetch Issue, and her memoir-style graphic narratives appear in Wimmin’s Comix #817. She has also been featured in the Twisted Sisters anthologies, Mind Riot, Have Milk: Will Travel, and other collections, as well as museum exhibitions in Europe, Asia and America. Her graphic stories and many of her illustrations are usually about traveling, and sometimes about eating.

At the University of San Francisco, she teaches Animation, and Drawing on the iPad—a class she designed for USF which is also taught out of her own studio, Aunt Violet Productions. As a final project each semester, she helps students fashion memoir-style comic stories on the iPad. Currently, she is working on The Cool, Calm and Collected Ask Aunt Violet, and enjoying teaching people how be more creative with their iPads.

You can see more of her artwork here, and learn more about her classes here. Her talk in Aberystwyth will explore the intersections of graphic art and travel writing, under the title “Panel Borders: Travel Stories as Comics and Graphic Novels”.


The closing plenary will be presented by Wendy Bracewell, Professor of South-East European History at University College London, and the director of the UCL Mellon postdoctoral programme.

Wendy is one of the most prolific scholars in the field of travel studies, moving freely between the early modern, modern and contemporary periods, and between East and West. Her ‘East Looks West’ research project and the subsequent publication were instrumental in offering new perspectives on various notions such as center and periphery, the role of travels in nation formation, and cultural difference. More recently, she is working on travel polemics – the answers by the locals (the ‘travelees’ as they are sometimes called) to foreign travelogues.

Wendy’s plenary – the closing talk of the conference – will be: ”Answering back, East & West: travellers & travellees in the 18th century”.