Interview with Sam Bailey

Our next seminar will be taken by Sam Bailey on 29th October 2018. The seminar will be starting at 18:00. Below we talked to Sam about some whisky business and disability in poetry .

Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from?

I’m from Oxford but recently found out that I have family in the Republic of Ireland so I hope I will meet them some day.

What brought you to Durham?

A happy coincidence of funding and great supervisors for my PhD project. I also studied her for my undergraduate degree in French and Spanish so I did miss it too.

What is your favourite thing about the medieval/early modern period?

At the moment I’m really interested in seventeenth-century French swearing and obscene slang. It never fails to make me laugh. I found out the other day that moineau (sparrow) can mean penis – who could’ve guessed that? I was sat there thinking ‘why’s this man talking about sparrows all the time?’ It’s certainly not the first animal you’d think of… And one of the poems I’ll be talking about contains the phrase ‘tirer une estocade’, but you’ll have to come to my talk to find out what that means.

What does your research focus on?

I’m interested in representations of disability in seventeenth-century French literature, particularly obscene poetry of the kind that was written and circulated illicitly in cabarets.

What do you plan to focus on in your seminar?

I’m going to talk about a poetry manuscript collection I recently read and photographed in Paris. I’ll show how the poetry it contains is full of allusions to and depictions of disability (unfortunately usually negative) and then talk about one of my favourite poets who writes about his own disability in a very unusual way that stands out from the other poems on this subject.

If you were not in academia, what would you be doing?

I’d open a bar called Whisky Business that only serves whisky (and would probably have no customers). Good thing I got this PhD funding.

Do you have a favourite medieval/early modern text?

Yes, it’s a self-portrait by the poet Denis Sanguin de Saint-Pavin. It’s very long and one of the hardest poems I’ve ever worked on, but it is probably my favourite seventeenth-century text about disability due to its complexity.
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