An Interview with Courtney A. Floyd of the Victorian Scribblers podcast

by Janine Hatter on October 13, 2017

By Anna Brecke

I recently had the opportunity to interview Courtney A. Floyd via email about her newly launched podcast, Victorian Scribblers. You may also recognize Courtney as the guest Twitter host who is conducting the serial read-along of Aurora Floyd. Victorian Scribblers is currently doing a multi-part series on Braddon. Links are included at the end of this interview.

 

Q: Your background and research interests and how it relates to
the podcast?

A: I am a creative writer in addition to being a doctoral candidate,
and my interest in the process and business of writing led me to
the dual-episode format I use in Victorian Scribblers (see below for more
information).

As a doctoral candidate in Victorian literature, my research centers on
two major areas: (1) disability and embodiment studies and (2) print and
media culture. We have inherited much of our modern understanding of bodies
from the Victorians. We have also inherited the legacies of mass print and
mass media from the Victorians. My dissertation brings together the fields
of print culture, disability studies, and nineteenth-century fiction to the
examine moments in which those two inheritances collide, informing the way we
understand past bodies as well as the way we experience our own bodies.

While reading to put together my dissertation prospectus, I encountered many
lesser-known works and authors and wanted to find a way to talk about them
even though they wouldn’t necessarily fit in my dissertation. This podcast
became that way!

Q: Tell us a little bit about the podcast format and topics
you’re covering in this first se​ries​?

A: Each season, we spotlight two lesser-known authors. For each author,
we put together a biographical episode and a fiction episode. Episodes
are usually about an hour long, and if they go too much over that we release them as
multiple parts. The biographical episode is what it sounds like: a chronological discussion
of the author’s life, told in narrative form. In the fiction episode,
we talk about the author’s writing process and then read a short piece
of their work (so far, that has been fiction, but might include poetry,
drama, non-fiction, essays, journalism, etc.)

We also have minicasts (30 minutes) covering special topics which might help audiences
understand some aspect of the author’s life or work (for example, after
the Wilkie Collins episodes, we did a minicast on the newspaper novel).

Q: What made you decide on a podcast rather than a blog or other
medium?

A: There were three major factors at play in my decision to go with a podcast.
The first was that I have a background in vocal performance. In high school
and college, I was the lead singer in a small folk and bluegrass family band.
So the process of recording was something with which I was already at least
partially familiar.

The second factor was that I started listening to a lot of podcasts while
studying for my qualifying exams. I loved the portability of the form (I could
listen while exercising or running errands), and found them engaging in ways
that audiobooks weren’t (they’re conversational and build in breaks, they
encourage audience interaction via social media and other means, etc.).
I liked that, particularly with history and biography podcasts, I could feel
both productive and entertained while still taking a break from my studies.

The third factor stems from my ongoing attempts to perform academic tasks with
attention to their impact on bodies and (dis)abilities–including my own. I do have
an academic blog, and I think blogging is a valuable form of public/digital humanities.
But as someone deep in exam study, I was trying to combat eyestrain and the effects
of sitting too much but still hoping to keep my mind busy. Podcasts are much more
accessible than blog posts in many ways. (I also try to include detailed show notes
for subscribers who are hearing impaired.)

Q: Anything surprising you learned about MEB while researching your
episodes on her?

A: I’ll admit to only having had a foggy understanding of Braddon’s life
prior to beginning research for Episode 3. I knew she’d written poetry and
acted for a number of years–but not much else. That said, I was probably most
surprised to learn that her parents were separated, that her brother was the
Prime Minister of Tasmania, and that she loves potatoes as much as I do.

Q;  Future plans for the podcast? Do you ​envision many se​ries​?

A: Oh, so many plans! My guest host for Episodes 3-4, Eleanor Dumbill, has just agreed
to come on as a full-time co-host, and we’ve got a long master list of writers we
plan to cover. Next season, we’ll be covering the Trollopes. We’re also planning a
mini-series on neo-Victorian and Steampunk media, and another one on Victorian Medievalism,
to name a few things.

Q:  Do you have a list of dream guests?

A: I’d love to bring on Sarah Waters (author of Tipping the Velvet and other neo-Victorian novels)
and Gail Carriger (author of the Parasol Protectorate series of Steampunk novels) to talk about their
favorite Victorian writers and why they think the period is so popular in today’s pop culture.

Mostly, I’m just excited to bring on many of my brilliant colleagues here at University of Oregon and
across the country / around the world.

—-

I’ve put together a list of ways to find us, too:

You can find Victorian Scribblers on iTunes and most major podcast apps. We don’t currently have a website,
but you can find out more about us on our Patreon page (www.patreon.com/victorianscribblers) and follow us
on Facebook (www.facebook.com/VictorianScribblers) and Twitter (@VS_Podcast)

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