News Archive

News Archive

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New Olive Schreiner Letters Online goes live 5 February 2015!

The HRI at the University of Sheffield has confirmed that technical work will be completed for the launch of the ‘new look’ Olive Schreiner Letters Online by the end of 5 February. The Virtual Research Environment (VRE) supporting this will also underpin publication in due course of Whites Writing Whiteness.


January 2015: New-look Olive Schreiner Letters Online!

A revamp of the entire OSLO pages has now been completed together with a new design and will be published later in January. This is important for Whites Writing Whiteness as it shares much of the behind the scenes software technology, and means its VRE has been stepped‎ up a notch. More on the WWW VRE at a later stage.


January 2015: January to March 2015 South Africa Fieldtrip!

Archives in Kimberley, Cape Town, Grahamstown (Cory), Bloemfontein and Pretoria are being visited to continue the work of populating the WWW database of family and other collections. A weekly blog post will report on progress – please watch this space for detail.


July 2014: There‘s always more! That’s the good thing about archive-based research!

At this stage in the development of the WWW project, we now have a very good, workable template for recording archive information in a database for each collection worked on, and which will underpin what will become the VRE or Virtual Research Environment, a full-searchable and editable ‘database of databases’. In addition we have more or less (just a few tweaks needed) completed recording information on a small (Gottlob Schreiner), medium (the Cape Colony Letters) and large (Rhodes Papers) collection. We are therefore now moving on to the next phase of data collection – this is….

In mid July, Liz Stanley, Andrea Salter and Sue Wise are off to South Africa for an extended period of archive research. We will be based in the Cory Library, Rhodes University, Grahamstown. While there, we’ll be working on a number of exciting collections, concerned with the Pringle, Bowker and Price families and also the Gold Fields Consolidated collection (connected with Cecil Rhodes). Watch this space for more on these collections.

Also, Liz and Andrea have a new book being launched at the Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival (which is 24-27 July in Cradock in the Eastern Cape). This is —

Liz Stanley and Andrea Salter (eds, 2014) The World’s Great Question: Olive Schreiner’s South African Letters Cape Town: Van Riebeeck Society.

There will be a blog from the Festival and a few photographs in due course.


June 2014 – Elias Conference: UPDATE

Liz Stanley’s presentation later this month at the Norbert Elias conference, University of Leicester, will speak to the following title and abstract:

A Civil Partnership: Thinking with Norbert Elias, About Sociology, About South Africa from Past to Present, and Some Possible Futures

This presentation responds to the key questions posed in the conference call for papers, doing so in the spirit encouraged, of openness to and dialogue with other bodies of sociological thinking. Rather than positioning these as ‘competing positions’, it conceives them as being in a civil – in the Eliasian sense of the word – partnership. In doing so, it addresses four interlinked themes, as follows: ‘Thinking with Norbert Elias, About Sociology’ considers issues concerning 21st century uses of Elias’s work, his synthetic ambitions, the claimed fragmentation of sociology, the retreat into the present, the short-term and the long-term and institutional pressures such as (in Britain) the REF, and its relationship to calls for a more public and partisan presence for sociology. As well as considering these matters in general terms, it also sketches out how they shape up in my own work as a feminist sociologist with a broad social constructionist way of thinking, working for over 20 years on historical processes of change in South Africa. ‘South Africa From Past to Present’ discusses some of the ways that ‘thinking with Elias’ is being put into practices in the ‘Whites Writing Whiteness’ project. This is concerned with long-term processes of change in South Africa from the 1770s to the 1970s as explored through letters, diaries and other everyday life sources which provide fully longitudinal accounts of how whites represented the emergent racial order over this 200 year period, with Elias’s ideas about sociogenesis, figuration, de/re/civilizing processes and the established and the outsiders of particular relevance. ‘South African Futures’ reviews post-1994 developments and changes, and thinks forward from these to the end of the 21st century using Eliasian ideas including those of habitus and the thinking statues. It considers the broad trajectories that are discernible and considers possible – and probable – changes, shifts and transitions. ‘On Time and Timing: The Possible Futures of Norbert Elias’ returns to the relationship between Elias’s corpus of work and sociology, sketching out some possible future developments.  The UK’s ‘civil partnership’ is not marriage, and can codify inequalities rather than legislating equality between partners, but nonetheless it does recognise mutual rights and responsibilities; it acts as a useful metaphor in pointing up aspects of the Elias/sociology partnership. Might the present Elias/sociology partnership stay as it is, or perhaps develop into ‘the marriage of true minds’ – or is dissolution or divorce more likely?

Full details about the conference can be found at:


June 2014 – The ends of the letters!!

Liz Stanley’s presentation for the July international symposium on ‘What Is a Letter?’ will tackle head-on the argument that new digital technologies including email, text and instant messaging are heralding ‘the ends of the letter’. Showing that Olive Schreiner’s letters contain all the features seen to signify this ‘end’, the presentation will also discuss similar features in the letters of St Paul, Roman legionary letters, mediaeval letters, and letters exchanged in 20th century wartimes.

Registration is now open for the international symposium What is a letter? An interdisciplinary approach (2 to 4 July 2014, at St Edmund Hall, Oxford).

For more information see


April 2014 – Elias Conference:

Liz Stanley will be giving the opening plenary at the Norbert Elias conference at the University of Leicester, June 2014, on the theme of ‘Civil partnership? Using Elias to re-think issues and developments in contemporary sociology’. The conference is on ‘From the Past to the Present and towards Possible Futures: The Collected Works of Norbert Elias’ and full details will be found at


20 February 2014 – An Edinburgh Sociology 50th Anniversary event:


A civilized evening with Norbert Elias – Everything you always wanted to know about Eliasian sociology but didn’t dare ask about…

Videos of Elias, Readings of His Work, Discussion, Wine & Refreshments, hosted by Liz Stanley, Emilia Sereva and Jacques Human.

Thursday 20 February, 4pm-6pm, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 6th floor Common Room

Introduction and Welcome 
Elias talking 1: ‘The Task of Sociology’ ‘Wishful Thinking’

Readings: What is Sociology?
Elias talking 2: ‘Hegel, Marx, above all Marx’

Reading: Reflections on a Life
Elias talking 3: Excitement, Boredom, Violence’

Readings: The Civilizing Process, and The Germans
Elias talking 4: ‘The Problem of Time’

Reading: The Loneliness of the Dying
Elias talking 5: ‘How To Become Human’ 

Readings: Involvement and Detachment

Eliasian Moments: Collegial Discussion & Convivial Talk


February 2014: We are delighted to announce that the Whites Writing Whiteness website has received a decent spring-clean! We have just uploaded a detailed blog post about ‘Thinking with Norbert Elias, and race…‘, to add to our growing portfolio of posts. The WWW webpages now also have a brand new addition: a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. This is a collection of project-related things ‘whose categorical boundaries, and so whose definitional and ontological being, are not yet decided.’ The WWW Cabinet of Curiosities invokes the curious and the not yet known, and its contents raise puzzles about the ‘coming to know’ involved and the fetters on and boundaries to this. The first three items in the Cabinet are: ‘On curiosities and archives’, ‘A letter is a letter is…’, and ‘Colossus v. Almighty might have been’. More Curiosities will be uploaded in a few weeks time. We also welcome your suggestions for further items to ponder upon, as well as posts by intrigued readers. Read on!


October 2013: Two new items are now available: an annotated reading list on Rhodes: Man, Myth & Matrix, and a brand new related blog post on ‘Rhodes the Matrix‘ and the WWW project’s work around this.


September 2013: Blog post now available: From Gottlob Schreiner to Cecil Rhodes via the Cape Colony Letters: the development of the WWW Project database


May 2013: Reading Lists on topics at the heart of the WWW project have been updated. Click on the ‘Read All About…’ button to access Reading Lists concerning: methodology, letters and epistolarity, frontiers and the Eastern Cape, Minerals Revolution, Whiteness, and Rhodes – man, myth & matrix.


April 2013: A short podcast on ‘Researching social change and whiteness in South Africa 1770s to 1970s: Methodological beginnings for the Whites Writing Whiteness project’ is now available!



Last updated: 9 March 2015