Archives and Texts Seminar

We are delighted to present the first talk in the Archives and Texts seminar, which will be held in Special Collections  at the Museum of English Rural Life:

 Monday 27th October (wk 5) 5-6pm, MERL

Dr Innes M. Keighren (Geography, Royal Holloway)

‘Travels in a publisher’s archive: John Murray and nineteenth-century travel publishing’

In this talk, Innes will present the findings of an AHRC-funded project which investigated the relationship between exploration and publishing in order better to understand how knowledge acquired in the field became, through a series of material and epistemic translations, knowledge on the page. In examining the transformation of travellers’ en route writing in journals and field notebooks into more-or-less polished print, Innes considers the significant role of editing, revising, and redacting in imposing order and authority on printed works of travel.

John Murray

The lecture considers—with specific reference to accounts of travel in South America, Africa, and the Arctic issued by the leading nineteenth-century publishing house John Murray—how journeys of exploration became published accounts and how travellers sought to demonstrate the faithfulness of their written testimony and to secure their personal credibility.

All welcome – seasonal refreshments provided and we’ll have a drink afterwards.


Posted in Department of English Literature news and events | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chloe Houston: book launch

On Wednesday 26th November,1.15 pm: Dr Chloe Houston, from the Department of English Literature, University of Reading, is speaking on ‘Too Good to be True: Reforming Utopia in Thomas Nicholls’ A pleasant Dialogue… (1579) and Thomas Lupton’s Sivqila (1580)’, at an event to launch her new book, The Renaissance Utopia: Dialogue, Travel and the Ideal Society.  All welcome.  HUMSS, Room 127, University of Reading.

Chloe Houston book cover

Posted in Department of English Literature news and events | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thomas Glave reads his work…

The award-winning author Thomas Glave will give a reading of his work in support of LGBT Plus – a network for University of Reading staff on Monday 24th November 2014, at 6.30 pm, in Palmer Building 103, Whiteknights.

 Thomas Glave

For further information please contact Dr Andrew Mangham on 0118 378 6093 or on

Posted in Department of English Literature news and events | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A YouTube first for the department

The department has just published its first British Sign Language interpreted screencast. ‘The Punctuation Pathway’, one of our first ever screencasts, is now available in this format for viewers on our YouTube channel ‘English Literature at the University of Reading’ and can be found here:

punctuation pathway bsl


Posted in Department of English Literature news and events | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gerald Finzi Memorial Lecture 2014

On Friday 7 November, acclaimed poet Don Paterson will deliver the Gerald Finzi Memorial Lecture 2014, at 6:30 p.m. in the Lecture Theatre (L22) at the London Road campus. The Finzi lecture is one of the major public events in the University diary. Admission is free.

Don Paterson’s title will be ‘Thirteen Ways to Look at a Poet: Michael Donaghy and the Golden Section’. Michael Donaghy, a popular, influential and much-loved figure in the UK poetry scene, died tragically early at the age of fifty in 2004, and Paterson’s lecture will mark the tenth anniversary of his death. It coincides with the reissue of Donaghy’s Collected Poems in paperback, and the publication of Don Paterson’s ‘Smith’: A Reader’s Guide to the Poetry of Michael Donaghy.

The lecture will be followed by the opening reception for Reading Poetry Festival 2014, in the Old Library (London Road campus) at 7:30 p.m., at which there will be readings from the 2014 University of Reading Creative Arts anthology, Origami Warriors.

The Gerald Finzi Memorial Lecture is the opening event of Reading Poetry Festival 2014 which runs from 7-9November and which will bring together many of the most exciting poets from around the UK for three days of readings and discussion. See for full schedule and tickets.

Posted in Department of English Literature news and events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Start Scribbling!

Emily Upson, a member of our student-led creative writing group, writes:

Start Scribbling! is our biggest event yet – open to everyone, it will be an evening filled with writing advice and information on the opportunities in Reading.

start scribbling

We have guest speakers such as A F Harrold, Morag Joss, Michael Gulliver, and Conor Carville, who will all be talking about their writing experience, and giving you the advice that they wish they had.

There will be refreshments available, as generously funded by the O2 Think Big! scheme.

It’s in the big lecture theatre, Palmer G10, on Whiteknights campus, on Monday the 20th of October from 7 – 10pm.

I hope to see you all there!

Posted in Department of English Literature news and events | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

After Hours at the Pitt Rivers

Departmental poet Obby Robinson has been invited to read from his supernatural-themed poetry collection at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford on the 4th of December this year. Obby will be heading up an evening of art, poetry, performance and music, all with a link to folklore and storytelling. Further details available here.

 The Witchhouse of Canewdon and Other Poems


Anyone wishing to acquaint themselves with Obby’s rigorous, odd, Poe influenced work can purchase The Witchhouse of Canewdon and Other Poems from Blackwells on campus for £5.00.

Posted in Department of English Literature news and events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neil Cocks has a new monograph

Neil Cocks writes:

My most recent monograph has just been published by Palgrave. In this book I think through a problem that all of us working with literature grapple with at some time: the complexities that attend a reading of something in a text that has been overlooked by previous critics. My specific interest is in reading children in nineteenth century literature who do not conform to a standard type. These marginal or peripheral children tend not to be noticed by critics. I argue that addressing them can lead to a radical re-evaluation of the literary works in question.

Neil monograph

Here is the Palgrave press release:  

Neil Cocks

The Peripheral Child in Nineteenth Century Literature and its Criticism

Established accounts of the child in nineteenth century literature tend to focus on those who occupy a central position within narratives. The first part of this book is concerned with children who are not as easily recognised or remembered as Alice, Kim or Oliver Twist; the peripheral or neglected children featured in works by Dickens, Brontë, Austen and Rossetti. The return of the overlooked child to these texts acts like ‘a return of the repressed’, overturning accepted narratives concerning their structure and meaning. In the second part of the book, some of the more sceptical accounts of the nineteenth century literary child are challenged. ‘Ethical’ and ‘historicist’ approaches are shown to be resistant to the text-focused analysis offered in the first part of the book, resulting in an investment in a child that is knowable, ‘real’ and non-discursive.

Posted in Department of English Literature news and events | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The opening reception for Beckett Week: a reminder

Conor Carville writes:


The opening reception for Beckett Week will take place in the Museum of English Rural Life from 5.00 to 7.00. this evening, Wednesday 1st October. Drinks will be served. 

Our exhibition ‘Beckett in London: The Murphy Notebooks’ will also be open for viewing on the evening.

Posted in Department of English Literature news and events | Leave a comment

Linnean Society talk by John Holmes

John Holmes writes:

This lunchtime I will be giving a talk at the Linnean Society on how poets have responded to changing conceptions of the natural world, from when the eighteenth-century naturalist Carolus Linnaeus first devised an ordered system for classifying plants and animals, to Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace’s discovery of evolution by natural selection, and beyond. I’ll be looking at a wide range of poets, starting with Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus Darwin, who wrote a speculative account of organic evolution in verse at the beginning of the nineteenth century, moving on to Victorian poets, including Tennyson’s famous account of ‘Nature red in tooth and claw’ in his elegy In Memoriam, and ending up with the modern American poet and editor of Darwin Philip Appleman, who is one of the most outspoken atheists writing in America today.

Interdisciplinary Research into the Humanities and Science

I am really excited to be speaking at the Linnean Society, as I’ll be in the very room where Darwin and Wallace’s theory was first announced in 1858. The audience, now as then, will be made up mainly of biologists, so I am looking forward very much too to this opportunity to show working scientists how poetry can help to explore the world that they are uncovering through their scientific research.

A link to the talk can be found here.

Posted in Department of English Literature news and events | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment