Jess Phillips MP at the University of Reading (16th November 2017)

Dr Madeleine Davies (Department of English Literature) write:

The Vice-Chancellor’s Endowment Fund generously supported the Department of English Literature and the Department of Politics and International Relations in hosting Jess Phillips MP at the University of Reading last week.

 

 

Jess Phillips was invited to deliver a talk on the topic, ‘Finding your Voice’, and to engage in a Question and Answer session led by Dr Mark Shanahan from the Department of Politics and International Relations. A book-signing for the MP’s recent book, Everywoman, was organised with the help of Blackwell, and this took place after the talk.

185 people were in the audience on the night. Members of the wider community joined us (including some in the 15-18-year-old category), and the majority of the seats were taken by colleagues and students in roughly equal proportion. The University’s live Facebook stream shows that 3,465 views were recorded during the 90-minute broadcast.

A Twitter feed from the event provided a lively flow of the MP’s comments as well as audience responses. One tweet alone (presented below) was viewed by 1,334 people.

 

 

 

Jess Phillips herself added her ‘like’ to the feed.

Jess Phillips’ talk included her childhood experiences as a campaigner with parents who were both committed to socialist causes: she remembered attending a day-care centre run by activists and helping to produce the banners that would be used on the drive-way to Greenham Common. She also discussed a brief period of political apathy when, in the early years of the Blair governments, many situations improved and the need for constant campaigning declined (she noted that she was more a fan of Blair’s ‘early work’ than of his later concepts). The election of David Cameron reignited her political activism, and her years of experience with ‘Women’s Aid’, a refuge charity, finally persuaded her to make herself heard and to enter Parliament. Her speech also included issues of class and privilege, questions of fairness and responsibility, and all her comment was laced with wit, humanity, and a deep-seated commitment to social justice. In the speech and in the Q&A session that followed it, it was clear that Jess’s passion is for equality, not in the highly theorised sense of ‘academic feminism’, but in the ‘lived’ sense of fairness, human rights and plain decency.

All of us who met Jess were extremely impressed by her warmth and her wit: there was no gap between her public image and the real person. It was also a timely and much-needed reminder that there are many MPs who are politicians because they are driven by their convictions and who are defined by their integrity and compassion. Meeting heroes is a dangerous enterprise but not in this case.

Thank you to all colleagues and students who attended the event. Jess Phillips told me (and told many students too) how impressed she was with Reading students and I felt very proud of everyone who contributed so much to such an excellent evening.

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EMRC seminar

Monday 20 November 1 pm, EM G44: All Welcome

Dr Brodie Waddell (Birkbeck),

‘Labouring literature: writing about work in early modern England’

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A book launch event – all welcome

At Blackwell’s Bookshop, Broad Street, Oxford, on 28th November, there is to be a special evening with Steven Matthews and Fiona Sampson, where they will be discussing their latest publications, and exploring poetry, place in history and the natural world.

Steven Matthews will be reading from his collection ‘On Magnetism’, featuring poems about loss and remembrance, about the relation of the Renaissance and the Classical worlds to our own, about locales within lives. These are poems about sounding the world, and about measuring our responses to it through its various musics. Steven will also be discussing his prose book reflecting upon Wordsworth, Ceaseless Music.

Fiona Sampson will be reading from ‘The Catch’, collection that transforms the sensory world into an astonishingly new and vivid poetry. Here, dream and myth, creatures real and imagined, and the sights and sounds of ‘distance and of home’ all coalesce in a sustained meditation on time and belongingFiona will also be exploring her prose work ‘Limestone Country’, a love letter to one kind of rock.

Tickets for this event cost £3. Please note, this event will be starting at 7:15pm on 28th November, with entry to the bookshop available at 7pm. For all enquiries please email events.oxford@blackwell.co.uk.

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Next EMRC seminar – Monday 6th November

6 NOVEMBER, Edith Morley G44, 1 pm:

Gabriella Infante (KCL), ‘”The moving closets of brave Ladies, and beautifull virgins”: coaches through the male gaze on the Restoration stage’

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Evan Hayles Gledhill at the British Library

On Halloween, Reading PhD student Evan Hayles Gledhill will be running a free session at the British Library to introduce library users to the magical texts, and texts about magic, held within the collections. Fantastic Books and Where to Find Them is a 45 minute lunchtime session that will be fun for those who have a general interest in the topic, and useful for those who study the history of the book, magic and folklore, and cultural studies.

Full details and booking instructions are found on the British Library website. The British Library offers a regular programme of Discovery sessions for groups, and you can book a free 1-2-1 session on a topic of your choosing also. This is a great way to start your research on a undergrad dissertation project. The team of reference specialists are  online between 10 and 4 daily, and answering your enquiries by email, as well as being available in person at the reference desks in the reading rooms.

During their time as a PhD student here at Reading, Evan has also been employed by the British Library for over two years, and keeps finding new resources! Reading students are lucky to be a short train ride from London, and can make use of this wonderful institution in person as well as online.

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Award-winning author becomes inaugural Creative Fellow at the Samuel Beckett Research Centre

A multi-award-winning author will set out to create a new piece of creative work inspired by Samuel Beckett after being confirmed as the University of Reading’s first Beckett Creative Fellow.

Eimear McBride, whose novel The Lesser Bohemians won a James Tait Black Prize earlier this year, will have unique access to the University’s internationally-recognised Beckett Archive and be able to draw on academic expertise with in-depth knowledge of the Irish novelist, poet, and playwright.

McBride’s year-long fellowship is expected to be the first of three this year at Reading, funded by a £20,000 donation to the Samuel Beckett Research Centre, which launched in May. The Centre seeks to bring together experts at the University to promote world-leading research and support the creation of new original works inspired by Beckett.

McBride said: “It’s a tremendous honour, and pleasure, to be the inaugural holder of the Samuel Beckett Creative Fellowship and I’m very much looking forward to the daunting task of creatively engaging with Beckett’s inestimably important archive.”

McBride’s debut novel A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing won the 2013 Goldsmiths Prize and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014.

The Beckett Archive, held in the University of Reading’s Special Collections, will allow her access to the largest collection of publicly accessible Beckett materials in the world. McBride will have access to notebooks Beckett kept while he worked, including drafts of his fiction, poetry and drama, that offer a special encounter with his creative process.

McBride will keep a record of her experience of working with the Beckett materials, in the form of a monthly journal, as she produces the new creative work.

Samuel Beckett’s work has had a massive legacy within English-language, European, US, and World literatures and cultures. Playwrights such as Harold Pinter and Elfriede Jelinek, novelists including J.M. Coetzee and Paul Auster, and composers including Philip Glass and Morton Feldman have each acknowledged their indebtedness to Beckett.

Professor Steven Matthews, Director of the Beckett Research Centre, said: “This fellowship will ensure that the Beckett Archive, already a collection that inspires so much wonder and interest among writers and the public, becomes also a practical and inspiring creative workshop.

“We are so pleased that, through this fellowship, the Beckett Research Centre will give birth to an original piece of work by the distinguished Irish writer, Eimear McBride, a work which will have threads of Beckett’s own writing running through it.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITOR

About Eimear McBride

Eimear McBride grew up in the west of Ireland and studied acting at Drama Centre London. Her debut novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing received the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize, the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction, Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, the Desmond Elliot Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. Her second novel, The Lesser Bohemians, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize, Irish Novel of the Year and the RSL Encore Award. She occasionally writes and reviews for the Guardian, TLS, New Statesman and New York Times Book Review.

About the Samuel Beckett Research Centre

The Beckett Research Centre brings together academics and writers at the University of Reading to promote world-leading research, teaching and creative projects based around the University’s internationally-recognised Beckett Archive. It hosts collaborative writing, discussion and debate led by specialists from the departments of English Literature, Film, Theatre and Television, Modern Languages and Philosophy.

A key aspect of the Centre’s work is the support and funding of fellowships and scholarships with the aim of producing new creative work inspired by Beckett, such as radio and television plays, films, musical composition and visual art, alongside novels and short stories.

An annual programme of public events will be held at the Centre around a theme in current affairs that links to Beckett’s work. The inaugural research themes for 2017-19 are Beckett and the Environment, and Beckett and Europe.

The activities are based around the internationally-recognised Beckett Archive hosted by the Beckett International Foundation. Amongst the latest acquisitions at the Archive, located in the University of Reading’s Special Collections, is the original Murphy manuscript, comprising six notebooks relating to Beckett’s first published novel, and the archive of the pre-eminent Beckett actress, Billie Whitelaw.

 

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Searcher in the Dawn

Peter Stoneley writes:

We are pleased to announce the publication of a novel by Cindy Becker, Searcher in the Dawn, produced in paperback and as an e-book by Endeavour Press. The book is based on some of the research that Cindy could not fit into her monograph Death and the Early Modern Englishwoman. The book is described by the publisher as ‘an intriguing blend of murder-mystery and historical romance…it will appeal to lovers of crime novels and historical tales alike’.

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MA Creative Writing Pays Off

Shane O’Neill writes:

I am in my Grandmother’s library. Surrounding me on the walls are lines of leather-bound tomes, heavily battered spines and curled yellowing paper. I am four and cannot read. Nonetheless, I sit with a book in my lap, trying to decipher the hieroglyphics before me. Even at that young age, I understand that these twisted shapes are code, and that an understanding of their form is of utmost importance. As I learned to read, I began to better appreciate the work of the writer. I vowed that I would one day try to engage with this artform myself. Throughout my adolescent years, I would attempt this in many different ways – by writing poetry, songs and short stories. However, for the most part, my efforts went entirely unnoticed. This year, during my Master’s Degree in English, I decided that I needed to begin seriously pursuing this passion. I thus enrolled myself in the Creative Writing module on the course.

I was very fortunate to be under the tutelage of the esteemed poet and novelist, Professor Peter Robinson, whose advice and encouragement were extremely motivating and inspiring. The work that I put into my writing eventually paid off. A short prose story that I wrote for this module entitled “Fragments” was shortlisted for the Francis MacManus Short Story Competition in Ireland. This competition is quite prestigious, and each shortlisted story is read by a professional actor on RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland’s national broadcasting station. My story was read by Andrew Bennett and a link to the reading can be found at the bottom of this post. Originally written under the working title “Kebabs and Hookers”, the story was inspired by my time spent in Bordeaux the previous year. Every Monday and Thursday evening, I would train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in a gym in the sketchy part of the city past the train station. Equidistant from my tram stop to the gym was a Kebab shop, outside of which four to eight prostitutes could be seen working every night from 8p.m. My coach informed me that most of these women had been lured into France under the pretence of success and prosperity and were then prostituted upon arrival. This scene affected me profoundly and I had long intended to write a story based in such a setting. The result is perhaps my most realised piece of prose to date.

A link to a reading of the short story by Andrew Bennett can be found here: http://www.rte.ie/radio1/francis-macmanus-short-story/generic/2017/0918/905618-shortlist-2017/

 

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The Creative Arts Anthology is back!

Since 2008, the English Department has published its annual Creative Arts Anthology, bringing together the creative work of contributors from the university, and the Reading creative scene. The 2017 edition, Truth is Like a Lazarus; or, A Roof Bursting with Stars, marked the tenth Anthology to be published by the University. Now, we’re looking for submissions for the eleventh, to be published in early 2018.

Despite what you might think, submission isn’t just open to the English Department! Past editions have included work from students and staff from right across the University, as well as local artists and creatives.

Entries can take a variety of forms. As well as written submissions such as poetry or short prose, we also include visual artwork, such as photography, drawings or paintings.

There is no limit on the number of works one author or artist (or both!) may submit, but do ask that each submission isn’t too long (poetry and prose should not be longer than 2 pages of A4), as space in the final publication is limited, and we want to display as many works as possible. For this same reason, not every submission will be featured in the publication.

All submissions should be sent to readingcw@hotmail.com, accompanied by a brief third-person biographical note to be used should your work be selected. Written entries should be attached in a Word document, while visual entries should be Jpeg’s (please send the highest resolution copy available in the first instance, so that we can judge the best version of the work immediately).

The deadline for submissions is Friday 8th December, the final day of the Autumn Term. If you have any queries regarding submissions, you can get in touch with us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/UoRCreativeAnthology/) or Twitter

(https://twitter.com/UoRAnthology17), or via the email address above. We look forward to seeing your work!

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The Business of a Woman’s Life: Female Authorship, Celebrity and Fandom in the Long Nineteenth Century

CFP: The Business of a Woman’s Life:  Female Authorship, Celebrity and Fandom in the Long Nineteenth Century

An interdisciplinary conference to be hosted by the University of Reading, 26th March 2018.

Keynote Speaker (provisional): Prof. Alexis Easley, University of St. Thomas

Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney will also participate in a panel discussion about women’s literary friendships, drawing on their research for their recent book A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Bronte, Eliot and Woolf (Aurum Press, 2017).

Conference website: www.authorshipcelebrityfandom.wordpress.com

Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be. The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure will she have for it even as an accomplishment and a recreation.

— Robert Southey to Charlotte Brontë, 1837

This interdisciplinary conference aims to explore the wide variety of women’s engagement with literary and theatrical cultures in the long-nineteenth century as authors, performers and audience members. Literary and dramatic pursuits brought women into the public consciousness not only as creators and critics, but also as fans and consumers. This conference develops the transdisciplinary perspectives of fan studies and audience engagement research back into the pre-twentieth century era. Scholars are invited from the fields of literary studies, social history, cultural studies, readership studies, book history, fan studies, and history of leisure and recreation to foster dialogues on the subject of nineteenth-century female creativity.

We invite proposals of 300 words for 20 minute presentations relating to the conference theme.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Responses to women’s literature, reading, authorship • Women’s literary ephemera • Female authors in conversation • Gender and dramatic/celebrity performance • Gender and performativity – of reading, writing etc. • The promotion and marketing for cultural events and publications featuring women, and/or aimed at a female audience • Women and the literature of professionalization.

Please send your abstract, and a 100 word biographical note, to organiser Evan Hayles Gledhill by 30 November 2017 at: authorshipcelebrityfandom@gmail.com

 

 

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