Dr Georgina Binnie

Dr Georgina Binnie

Impact and Research Fellow (Writing Back Project)

0113 343 6189

Summary: Loneliness; letter writing; ageing; intergenerational; public engagement; James Joyce; modernism; photography.

Location: House 9.2.08

Research Interests

My PhD thesis considered the relationship between paralysis and photography in the works of James Joyce. Joyce’s intention in Dubliners to ‘betray the soul of that hemiplegia or paralysis which many consider a city’ is complicated by his explicit references to photography and associated devices. Like hemiplegia, the paralysis of just one side of the body, the photograph performs a dual function in Joyce's work, both reinforcing domestic and emotional stasis, whilst inviting the possibilities of innovation and escape.

Joyce’s fascination with the cinema and proto-cinematic devices has been well documented but there has been no comprehensive study on the influence of photography on his work. Although Joycean critics such as R. Brandon Kershner, Garry M. Leonard, Sean Latham and Louise E. J. Hornby have begun to address the interdisciplinary relationship between photography and literature in Joyce’s work, their writing looks at individual texts rather than his canon as a whole. Just as the interplay between Joyce’s writing and photography has been largely neglected by critics, so too has the history of Irish photography. My thesis on ‘James Joyce and Photography’ builds on recent work by Justin Carville and Kevin and Emer Rockett on Irish photographic history and, by merging literature and photography, provides an in-depth, cross-disciplinary approach to Joycean study.

My interest in visual culture and the power of the archive has also been instrumental to Writing Back, an intergenerational letter writing project that I set up at the University of Leeds in 2014. Writing Back matches School of English undergraduate students as pen pals with older, Yorkshire residents. Now in its third year, the project has seen 340 people write to one another so far. University of Leeds students are often away from home for the first time and welcome the chance to write to somebody new. By providing our students with historic photographs of Yorkshire, and encouraging them to share these in their letters, a mutual knowledge transfer is generated, whereby our students learn about our county’s heritage and their pen pals share their personal histories in return. The project uses loneliness measurement tools to map the impact of letter writing and archival engagement on loneliness and community cohesion.


Modern Literature, Semester 1, 2017-18

Prose: Reading and Interpretation, Semester 1, 2016-17

20th Century Fiction in English (Postgraduate Teaching Assistant and Lecturer), Semester 1, 2016-17

Contemporary Literature, Semester 2, 2015-16

Modern Literature, Semester 1, 2015-16

Poetry: Reading and Interpretation, Semester 2, 2014-15

Prose: Reading and Interpretation, Semester 1, 2014-15

20th Century Fiction in English, Semester 1, 2013-14


'Work in Progress: James Joyce and Photographic Images', in Looking at Images: A Researcher's Guide, ed. by Jane Birkin, Rima Chahrour and Sunil Manghani, http://blog.soton.ac.uk/wsapgr/looking-at-images/


''Lee Miller in James Joyce's Dublin' and The Lives of Lee Miller (Review)', James Joyce Broadsheet, 100 (2016), 3

'Andrew Gibson, The Strong Spirit: History, Politics, and Aesthetics in the Writings of James Joyce, 1898-1915 (Review)', Irish Studies Review, 23.1 (2015)

'Dubliners 100, ed. by Thomas Morris (Review)', James Joyce Broadsheet, 98 (2014)

'The Joycean Society (Review)', James Joyce Broadsheet, 98 (2014)

'Katherine McSharry, A Joycean Scrapbook: From the National Library of Ireland (Review)', James Joyce Broadsheet, 95 (2013), 3

News Items

Georgina Binnie and Crispian Neill, 'Sensory Modernism(s)', James Joyce Broadsheet, 102 (2015), 3

''We think of Rome, imperial, imperious, imperative': A Report on the Seventh James Joyce Graduate Conference, Rome, 6-7 February 2014', James Joyce Quarterly, 50.3 (2015)

Why is it I am destined  to look so many times in my life with eyes of longing on Trieste?': The 18th 2014 Trieste Joyce School', James Joyce Broadsheet, 97 (2014)

'In the Twitterlitter', James Joyce Broadsheet, 95 (2013), 4

Conferences and Events

'Transforming Age-Related Expectations One Letter at a Time', Future of Ageing Conference, International Longevity Centre, London, December 2017 

''I have such beautiful memories': Nostalgia and Ageing in Contemporary Yorkshire Letters', Love Letters Conference, Interdisciplinary.net, Oxford, July 2016

''I am getting on swimming in the photo business now': Milly Bloom and Photography', Bloomsday Celebrations, Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester, June 2017 (invited guest speaker)

Organised and ran 'Sensory Modernism(s): Cultures of Perception', a one-day interdisciplinary conference at the University of Leeds, May 2015, http://www.sensorymodernisms.com/ The two-day conference, 'Sensory Modernism(s) II', took place in December 2015. The second conference was partially funded by a Leeds Humanities Research Institute Graduate Research Group Grant. 

'This city is suffering from hemiplegia of the will [...] I'm not afraid to live': Photography and Paralysis in Dubliners', 100 Dubliners, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, London, October-November 2014

'An Introduction to James Joyce and Photography’, Bloomsday Celebrations, Leeds Skeptics, June 2014

'Stereoscopic Unreality in Stephen Hero’, James Joyce: The Recirculation of Realism, The VII James Joyce Italian Foundation Graduate Conference in Rome, February 2014


'Positive Partner in Society Award' at the University of Leeds Sustainability Awards 2017

National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement: Shortlisted as a Finalist in the ‘Individually-led Project Category’ for Writing Back, 2016

Outstanding PE/PPIE during Execution of Research Stage at the University of Leeds, 2015

Winner of the Leeds for Life Foundation Award, 2015  

Awarded an Engagement Excellence Fellowship by the University of Leeds for 2015-16

Giorgio Melchiori Grant: Awarded by the James Joyce Italian Foundation for photographic research in Trieste, 2014

Trieste Joyce School: Attendance Scholarship, July 2013 and July 2014


AHRC-Funded Workshop: Looking at Images: A Researcher's Guide: Image Research and its Futures, Goldsmiths University, June 2014

BAMS Postgraduate Training Day: Modernist Studies and Teaching, May 2014 

Public Engagement 

In 2014, I founded Writing Back, an award-winning letter writing project that matches University of Leeds students as pen pals with older, Yorkshire residents. This cross-generational communication tackles loneliness and social isolation in both demographics. Students are encouraged to share archival images of Yorkshire in their letters. The sending of these images generates a rich knowledge exchange between the pen pal pairs. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/arts/writingback 



BBC Georgey Spanswick (BBC Local Radio - all stations, 03/05/18). Pen pals chat about the Writing Back project: https://goo.gl/qJtKzw

BBC Leeds (03/05/18). Coverage of Writing Back and Easter meet-up event: https://goo.gl/nrJq8H

BBC Leeds (18/12/17). Student Ian Simpson and his pen pal Joyce Aveyard chat on the Big Yorkshire Phone In: https://goo.gl/y2iGeZ

BBC Radio 5 Live (16/12/17): 'Loneliness heightened by social media, Jo Cox's sister says' (Clip unavailable)

BBC Leeds (25/10/17). Dr Binnie and student Ian Simpson chat about Writing Back: https://goo.gl/eQK264

BBC Georgey Spanswick (BBC Local Radio – all stations, 05/05/17). Two pen pals from the Writing Back project interviewed after meeting for the first time. https://goo.gl/U6pakd

BBC Leeds (03/04/17, 8.50am). Student Ian Simpson is recorded going to meet his pen pal Joyce. https://goo.gl/1VVGvm

Woman’s Hour (BBC Radio 4, 29/12/16). Features four, Writing Back pen pals being interviewed alongside myself. https://goo.gl/wVUJZj

I was interviewed on The Voices Show on Age UK’s internet radio station, The Wireless (Clip unavailable).


'Pen-pals meet at celebration event' (Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post, 03/05/18): https://goo.gl/dXQXVo

'Pen pal project is writing the wrongs of loneliness epidemic' (Yorkshire Evening Post, 21/12/17): https://goo.gl/eBKpyg

'Why we need to save the Christmas card and the art of letter writing' (Yorkshire Post, 18/12/17): https://goo.gl/n2Vn88

'Loneliness heightened by social media, Jo Cox's sister says' (The Guardian, 15/12/17): https://goo.gl/6AHfHr

'Cross-cultural letter writing scheme is helping to tackle loneliness' (Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post, 24/10/17): https://goog.gl/ttgcCu

‘Project which finds pen pals to unite lonely people in Yorkshire quadruples in size’ (Yorkshire Evening Post, 03/05/17). Coverage of letter writing lunch, with quotes from student Ian Simpson. https://goo.gl/V3e44X. Also in: Yorkshire Post https://goo.gl/n2yymL

‘Pen pal project for students and older people’ (Darlington Stockton Times, 23/12/16) Features the University’s Writing Back project. https://goo.gl/WsYec2


Made in Leeds TV (clip on Facebook, 26/04/2018). The Writing Back project is featured: https://goo.gl/KLzwva

BBC One - Breakfast (30/12/17). Dr Binnie and undergraduate student Becky Hewitt were on the BBC Breakfast sofa to discuss Writing Back. 

On the Aire (Made in Leeds, 21/06/17). Coverage of collaboration with Fall into Place http://goo.gl/TPgbaW

Made in Leeds (20/06/17). Dr Binnie discusses 'Spring Flowers and Autumn Fruit', a play based on letters from Writing Back and performed by an intergenerational cast: https://goo.gl/duzy8a

Back on Aire (Made in Leeds, 04/05/17). Repeat of 03/05/2017 coverage and live studio interview. https://t.co/ugQLVaQILS

On the Aire (Made in Leeds, 03/05/17). Coverage of the Writing Back letter writing project, including interviews with several students and their older pen pals.

On the Aire (Made in Leeds, 23/11/16). Coverage of the Writing Back letter writing project, including interviews with one of the student/Leeds resident penpal pairs. https://goo.gl/UtAoxR

Online Print and Social Media

'Writing Back: spreading kindness one letter at a time' (Huffington Post, 14/01/18): https://goo.gl/Yk4Hti

Writing Back (Elle UK, 05/12/17). The project was featured in Elle UK's online article, '13 surprisingly fun things to do at Christmas if you can't celebrate with your family': https://goo.gl/j27aLM

BBC Look North (Yorkshire) (Facebook, 04/05/17). Online video of students and older pen pals meeting up at a letter writing lunch. The video has generated 63,000 views, 1,000 likes and 255 shares. https://goo.gl/zoBYZx

Other Activities

Member of Leeds City Council's Age Friendly Leeds Partnership, June 2017-Present

Editorial Assistant to the James Joyce Broadsheet, February 2014-Present

Co-Chair of the University of Leeds Finnegans Wake Reading Group with Dr Richard Brown, School of English, University of Leeds, October 2012-Present

Education Outreach Fellow with the University's Arts Educational Engagement Team, 2012-2016

Administrative Assistant to the AHRC-funded project,'Making Waves: Oliver Lodge and the Cultures of Science, 1875-1940', November 2014 - February 2015

Peer Mentoring & Induction Intern, School of English, University of Leeds, July 2013 - July 2014