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Dr Rey Conquer

Laming Junior Fellow


I grew up in Nottingham and after a year teaching in the Czech Republic I came to Oxford to study French and German at Magdalen. I returned to Magdalen to do an MSt in German, then moved to Somerville to do a DPhil (also in German), during which I also spent time at the Freie Universität in Berlin. I arrived at Queen’s as a Laming Fellow in October 2016.


My main area of teaching is the literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, in particular poetry. I also teach the special author paper on Fassbinder, as well as German-English translation.


I mostly work on poetry, particularly around the turn of the twentieth century although not exclusively (I'm also very interested in concrete poetry, for instance, as well as the work of more recent poets such as Thomas Kling). My doctoral thesis looked at colour in the poetry of George, Rilke, Kandinsky and Lasker-Schüler. By focusing on colour I hoped to think more about the ways poets use, and readers navigate, poetic language as a kind of resistant material. The thesis looked at how poetry can be called 'abstract' and so thought about how these particular poets manipulated language as a medium to create things (poems) that were not necessarily about something but that did something, brought something about.

The project I am working on as a Laming fellow carries on asking these questions, this time by looking at poetry as a sort of spatial or architectural experience. I am particularly interested in the theological implications of an emphasis on space and on spatial interactions between poet and reader or audience, which we see in various kinds of avant-garde or experimental poetry of the early and mid-twentieth century (such as Dada or concrete poetry)—an emphasis that was equally important in the theories of the liturgy of the same period, with practical consequences in church design and liturgical reform. My current research explores ideas of space and the liturgy in the Dada poet Hugo Ball and the concrete poet (and Benedictine monk) Dom Sylvester Houédard. I am also interested in translation, in particular what we might call 'creative' translation (this is the topic of the article below). In a less formal context I have written about film, contemporary poetry, and, among other things, otters.