Reading Year of Culture and our department

The Department of English Literature at the University of Reading is delighted to announce its first public creative writing competition, for 11 to 14 year olds from the Reading area. This is part of the 2016 Reading Literature Festival (4-13 November) and Reading Year of Culture.

The theme for entries is “My Reading”, and submissions can take the form of poetry (up to 14 lines), a short story (up to 500 words), or creative non-fiction (up to 500 words).

The deadline for entries is 7 October 2016.

Ship Leadership Concept on Chalkboard

Ship Leadership Concept on Chalkboard

Entries will be judged by prize-winning poet and novelist Peter Robinson and children’s author Wendy Meddour.

Prizes include book tokens and books by Two Rivers Press, and prize-winning entries will be published in the 2017 University of Reading Creative Arts Anthology.

Winners will be presented with their prizes by T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet Alice Oswald on Friday 4 November (preceding the 2016 Finzi Lecture).

The organisers of this event, Nicola Abram and Rebecca Bullard, comment: “During our outreach activities with local schools we’ve consistently been impressed by the imagination and attention to detail that pupils put into their creative writing. Through this competition we’d like to give young people a chance to shine – and to tell the world what this town means to them.”

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

The Professional Track: student experiences

Lucy Stone writes:

On the 7th July, Heather Evans, Rosa Mitchell and Rebecca Plummer were presented with awards in recognition of their outstanding achievement, having completed The Professional Track in less than a year after its official launch.

Catching up with them after the presentation at the Clock Tower Memorial on London Road Campus, I asked them each three short questions about their experience of The Professional Track.

Watch the video below to find out what they said!

Students in the School of Literature and Languages can now pre-register their interest for September 2016 Professional Track activities and events at: http://rdg.ac/1Y2wJ6w

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

Karín Lesnik-Oberstein reviews The Metamorphoses of the Brain

Karín has just had a review published of a book critiquing neuroscience in the leading Theory journal in the USA, Critical InquiryThe review relates to her own critical work on neuroscience.

 

 

 

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

The Professional Track celebrates first three graduates

Lucy Stone writes:

Congratulations to the three students who yesterday received certificates in recognition of their outstanding achievement, having completed The Professional Track in less than a year after its official launch.

Heather Evans, Rosa Mitchell and Rebecca Plummer were presented with their awards at the Clock Tower Memorial on London Road Campus.pt photo

Rosa Mitchell, Rebecca Plummer and Heather Evans, pictured above with Dr Cindy Becker, holding up their Professional Track certificates.

Catching up with them after the presentation, I asked why they would recommend The Professional Track to other students.

Heather commented: “It teaches you how to be more professional… and just be a bit more than your average student.”

Rosa stated: “I think it gives everyone an opportunity to do something beyond just a degree and I think it sets you up really well for jobs in the future.”

Rebecca noted: “I think it really encourages you and pushes you to do the placements  because it can be quite difficult to fit them into your degree.”

We are absolutely delighted that these three students have progressed through the award so quickly, and that we have had the opportunity to reward their hard work at the culmination of what has been a fantastic first year for the scheme.

Dr Cindy Becker, Professional Track and Placements Coordinator, made the following comment: “Congratulations to those dynamic students who have completed! We are delighted with the success of the Professional Track in its first year. With our students completing training courses, attending masterclasses and undertaking an astonishing range of academic placements, it has certainly been a busy year.

We know from data collected on recent University Visit Days that the Professional Track will be a deciding factor for the majority of potential students in making their choice of university, so we are confident that the scheme will prove even more popular next year.”

Students in the School of Literature and Languages can now pre-register their interest for September 2016 Professional Track activities and events at: http://rdg.ac/1Y2wJ6w

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

Professional Track success

Lucy Stone writes:

We are delighted to announce that three students have completed The Professional Track in less than a year since its official launch.

The Professional Track is a unique professional development scheme available to all students in the School of Literature and Languages. It offers a mix of professional level courses, placements, masterclasses and university schemes on a hop-on, hop-off basis. Students do not have to complete the whole award, they can simply personalise their experience. By completing the scheme they receive an overall certificate and recognition of the scheme on the Diploma Supplement Annex.

This year has been wonderfully successful, seeing over 150 different students, from a range of departments and degree disciplines getting involved. We have offered 7 different courses, 2 masterclasses and supported over 70 students with their academic placements.

Tomorrow, when the certificates are officially presented by Dr Cindy Becker, marks a significant chapter for this scheme, and we will strive for it to grow in strength, vibrancy and provision as the new cohort of students arrive in September.

Students in the School of Literature and Languages can now pre-register their interest for September 2016 Professional Track activities and events at: http://rdg.ac/1Y2wJ6w

PT banner

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

Pupils create poetry with us

On Thursday 30 June, the University of Reading welcomed more than 50 Year 9 pupils from John Madejski Academy (Reading), Reading Girls’ School, and Beechwood School (Slough) to spend a day studying English Literature and Classics.

Nicola Abram

Pupils participated in workshops spanning Greek mythology to contemporary poetry, looked at some ancient archaeological objects, and learned what was ‘True or False’ about university life. They also met some current and recent undergraduates and enjoyed a campus tour.

After seeing how Medusa was denied a voice in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, pupils worked hard to imaginatively inhabit her perspective through their own creative writing. The results were emotionally powerful and formally impressive. Here are just two examples:

 

Ever hunted

Whether I’m a monster

Or a human

Despised for this gift

This curse

This burden

I wished to do no harm

Blamed for a misconception

Yet now I disable any and all

Destroyer of life

My only company

My sisters

Burdened with immortality

Because of the their victim

daughter

Blamed for a deed

That was not her own

Oh I wish the hunt was over

Let them come and claim their prize

Then the predator in me

kicks in

And I ruin another innocent life

Just like mine was

 

– Aisha

 

 

Lost in the ocean

terrifying, empowering.

The tide comes too close

my screams are still drowning.

 

I wake up and all around me

familiar faces go cold

those adoring eyes go stoic

no matter what I say you won’t hear what you’ve been told.

 

So my cries grow sharp, venomous

no longer will I be your prey

legends confound the thought of me

and in my own reflection I lose my say

 

my beauty, my innocence, my radiance

gone

a monster born and killed no more.

 

– Nour

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

Happy Independent Bookshop Week, 18th-25th June

Dr Nicola Wilson writes:

We spent some time in EN2BB (Business of Books) visiting and thinking about the role of bookshops and the power of marketing and display in selling and distributing literature. This week I found myself reviewing two very different texts on bookshops for two very different publications: (i) a scholarly edited collection by Huw Osborne, The Rise of the Modernist Bookshop. Books and the Commerce of Culture in the Twentieth Century (Ashgate, 2015) for The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, and (ii) bestseller Veronica Henry’s fourteenth novel, How to find love in a bookshop (Orion, 2016) for the Press Association which gets short book reviews (150 words) out into the national and regional press.

IBW-2016

Henry’s novel is light ‘chick lit’ fare but also a love letter to the powers of reading and to bookshops as places of community and self-fulfilment. Huw Osborne’s edited collection is deeply rooted in scholarly and archival research, with great emphasis placed upon the prominent role of women as booksellers and printer/publishers in the early twentieth century, along with the role of the bookshop – drawing on sociological work by Laura Miller, Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption (2006) and the spatial theories of Henri Lefebvre – as hybrid “interstitial space” (7), “a social and lived space” (142) where communities of writers, readers and artists can meet. Poles apart as texts in so many ways, but both circulating around the idea of the bookshop as central to social and literary culture and to enabling a love of books. Independent Bookshop Week is itself of course a commercial and marketing tool, set up by the Booksellers Association, but I for one don’t mind the complex “literary-commercial paradox” (8), as Osborne describes bookselling, of this one. Happy Reading!

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

Ancients and Moderns dispute

Paddy Bullard has recently published an article about Voltaire, Jonathan Swift and the querelle des anciens et des modernes on the blog of the Voltaire Foundation, Oxford. The piece is here. The posting marks the publication of a new collection of essays co-edited by Paddy and Alexis Tadié, Ancients and Moderns in Europe: Comparative Perspectives.

Ancients and Moderns

The collection presents a new intellectual history of the ‘Ancients and Moderns’ dispute, in which fourteen contributors explore its manifestations across Europe in the arts and sciences, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

 

 

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

Chloe Houston writes for the Sheffield Centre for Early Modern Studies

Dr Chloe Houston recently posted to the blog for the Sheffield Centre for Early Modern Studies, hosted by the University of Sheffield.

The post can be found here.

Utopia

                                                     Map of Utopia (anonymous; undated), from http://theopenutopia.org
Posted in Department of English Literature news and events | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

David Brauner gives a keynote address at the American Literature Symposium at the University of Cambridge

David writes:

This weekend I found myself in surroundings that were both familiar and strange: familiar, because as an undergraduate at Pembroke College in the late 1980s I’d spent many hours on the Sidgwick site in Cambridge, attending lectures and seminars and working in the English Faculty Library; strange, because the Faculty is housed in a new building (one of several) that have given the place a very different feel. I was there to deliver a keynote address on Saul Bellow’s short fiction at the American Literature Symposium, an annual event that particularly showcases the work of postgraduates at Cambridge conducting research in American literature but that also features speakers from elsewhere.

The theme of this year’s symposium, ‘American Stuff’, elicited papers on subjects as various as the poetry of Anne Bradstreet, Walt Whitman, Charles Olson and James Merrill; the fiction of Henry James, Ralph Ellison, Thomas Pynchon and Jonathan Franzen; and the treatment of ‘hoarding’ in contemporary US fiction. I was a little concerned about how my own detailed reconsideration of some of Bellow’s short stories might fit in with the other papers – my argument was that Bellow is not much concerned with ‘stuff’ in the material sense, preferring to focus on tracing the minute fluctuations of consciousness – but as it turned out it spoke to many of the other presentations, a number of which were also concerned with what one speaker called ‘thinking about thinking’, and others of which were also about the short story form, as practised by Lorrie Moore, Lydia Davis and George Saunders. It was a pleasure and privilege to exchange ideas and to get a sense of the exciting work being done by the current generation of postgraduate students at my alma mater.

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