Medical Humanities Reading Group

The Medical Humanities Reading Group welcome you to our upcoming guest speaker event on Tuesday 21st February,  at 5pm, in HumSS 110.

How to Have Jazz Hands in an Epidemic:
musical theatre as a response to AIDS

Emily Garside completed her PhD on transnational theatre, exploring UK productions of American AIDS-related theatre, in 2015. She is an engaging speaker, having presented her research not only to fellow academics, but also in the West End as an accompaniment to recent productions of ‘AIDS plays’, as they have come to be know, such as Andrew Keates’ recent revival of As Is at the Trafalgar Studios. She is currently working on a book proposal, and preparing a workshop on Angels in America with the National Theatre.

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Professor Debra Shostak gives a talk today

D avid Brauner writes:

Just a quick reminder that Professor Debra Shostak, who is a Visiting Scholar with us this term, will be giving a research seminar entitled ‘Autumn of a patriarch: Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections’  today (Monday, 20th February) at 12 in HumSS127. Professor Shostak is one of the most eminent scholars in the field of contemporary American fiction and a very engaging speaker, so please do come along if you are free.


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Research seminar

Professor Debra Shostak, who is a Visiting Scholar with us this term, will be speaking on “Autumn of a patriarch: Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections”  on Monday 20th February at 12. The venue is HumSS127.

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A Ladybird Talk at MERL

On Thursday February 23rd at 5:30 pm, Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein will be giving a talk on a Ladybird Book, British Birds and their Nests, for the MERL Book Club.

The talk is free and there is no need to book:

After the talk, at 7:30 pm there is also a wider Ladybird Event at MERL, for which one does need to buy a ticket:


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EMRC seminar

The next EMRC seminar will be held on Monday 20 February at 1 pm in HUMSS 124:


Dr. Kathryn Woods (Warwick),


“Sweat and Toil: The Skin and Pores of the Eighteenth-Century Labouring Body”


All welcome


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International Women’s Day Talk and Debate

Wednesday 8th March, 6-8pm, Palmer 102.

Human rights matter to everyone and the principle of equal rights is key to its definition. International Women’s Day is an annual opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women across the world, but it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the inequalities that stubbornly persist.

With the election of Donald Trump, International Women’s Day has particular resonance this year. On Wednesday 8th March, senior academics from across the University will be giving talks in Palmer 102 on a range of issues connected with equality. Dr Madeleine Davies is hosting the evening, and she will be introducing Professor Clare Furneaux who will be discussing women and language, Dr Orla Kennedy who will be talking about women and weight, Dr Brian Feltham, discussing the internalisation of harassment and discrimination, Professor Rachel McCrindle, discussing women in male dominated industries such as Engineering, and Dr Mary Morrissey who will analyse the construction of Hillary Clinton in the recent US election campaign.

Following the talks there will be a debate led by members of the audience. This has been lively and fascinating in previous years and staff members have enjoyed talking through the issues with our students.

You don’t need to be female or to identify as a feminist to enjoy this event; as we’ve seen on the women’s marches across the US and the UK following President Trump’s inauguration, equal rights is a deeply-felt and fundamental principle held by men and women of all races and faiths. Come and debate the issues with us and celebrate how far women have come and discuss how far we still have to go.

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Medical Humanities Reading Group

The Medical Humanities Reading Group has a Guest Speaker on Tuesday 31st January.

Dr Sasha Garwood-Lloyd will be talking about sexuality, starvation and selfhood in Early Modern England. Sasha’s research focuses on female self-starvation during the early modern period, and its precise differentiation from the contemporary phenomenon of eating disorders. This talk is drawn from her forthcoming monograph Early Modern Noblewomen and Self-Starvation: the skull beneath the skin due out March 2018 from Routledge.

Sasha Garwood talk
This will be a 30 minute presentation, followed by the opportunity for questions, in HumSS 110, starting at 5pm Tuesday 31st Jan. No need to register, and snacks will be provided to prevent modern starvation too!

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EMRC seminar next week

The next EMRC seminar will be held at 1 pm, 30 January, HUMSS 127

Dr. Edmond Smith (Kent),

Cultures of commerce and governing behaviour in early modern England

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Pia Tafdrup and Peter Robinson read from their work – all welcome!

Poetry Reading by Pia Tafdrup and Peter Robinson

6 pm Wednesday 15 February HumSS 127

Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading

Admission is FREE. All are WELCOME. There will be REFRESHMENTS.

As part of her Walking over the Water Tour, which includes events in Oxford and at Ledbury, the award-winning Danish poet Pia Tafdrup will be reading for us in the Department of English Literature’s creative writing programme for 2016-17.

Pia Tafdrup


Pia Tafdrup ( was born in Copenhagen in 1952. She is a member of the Danish Academy, and has published 17 collections of poetry, two novels, and two plays. Pia received the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in 1999 and the Nordic Prize in 2006 from The Swedish Academy. Her most recent poetry collections translated into English are Queen’s Gate (Bloodaxe, 2001), Tarkovsky’s Horses & Other Poems (Bloodaxe, 2010) and Salamander Sun & Other Poems (Bloodaxe, 2015). Her latest books published in Denmark are entitled The Taste of Steel and The Smell of Snow.

Pia has also published a statement of her poetics entitled Walking over the Water (1991), and edited two poetry anthologies. She has produced literary translations of a number of Swedish writers, including Tua Forsström and Katarina Frostenson, and her own poems have been translated into more than 30 languages in books, anthologies and magazines. English translations of her poems have been published in 60 literary journals in the U.K., U.S., Canada, and Australia.

Pia was the subject of a 2003 documentary film about her work, Thousandborn, directed by Cæcilia Holbek Trier, and she has read from her work in more than 40 countries. She represented Denmark at Poetry Parnassus, the festival of readings, performance and debate that took place during the London 2012 Festival. Her poetry is published by Bloodaxe Books in this country, and there will copies of her work available for sale.

In support, Peter Robinson will be reading from his newly published Collected Poems 1976-2016 with the aim of sustaining the European dimension of this event.

Peter Robinson


Peter Robinson was born in Salford, Lancashire, in 1953. He has published aphorisms, short stories, a novel, literary criticism, as well as a number of volumes of poetry and translations for which he has received the Cheltenham Prize (1988), the John Florio Prize (2008), and two Poetry Book Society Recommendations (2002 and 2012). He is Professor of English and American Literature at Reading and poetry editor for Two Rivers Press.

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A civil rights experience

Whilst we, as a department, do not endorse the individual views of members of our department, we are happy to share Shelley Harris’s account of her experiences at a recent civil rights event:

Shelley Harris

At the weekend I flew out to Washington to join the Women’s March, arriving on the evening of Trump’s inauguration. That first evening was one of the most surreal of my life. The atmosphere in DC was febrile, the city ringing constantly with sirens, the air flashing with blue light, a search helicopter hovering for hours over the city centre. Secret service men were everywhere, earpieces in place, twitchy looks to left and right as they left limos or entered buildings. In the streets, women in silk and fur and men in tuxedos formed huge queues for the inauguration balls, while tomorrow’s marchers – many of them in pussy hats – gave them the side-eye. At the bar we ended up in, protesters waited elbow-to-elbow with tourists in red MAGA hats, each throwing shade. A group of women discovered that we were visiting from the UK and proposed a toast: ‘Fuck Brexit. Fuck Trump.’

As for the march itself, it was the only time in my life I’ve been aware I was helping to make history as it happened (I know we make history constantly, but this felt like a moment!) And the astonishing thing, given that we were half a million people squeezed into a few city streets, was how peaceful and friendly it all was – not a moment of aggression and not (I’m told) a single arrest.

I met some amazing women: a young public health student from Texas who’d booked her air ticket months in advance because she thought she was going to watch the first female president being inaugurated. ‘I didn’t know what to do when Trump won,’ she told me. ‘But then they announced the march and I thought: “Oh right. This is what I booked that ticket for.”’. There were women from Connecticut wearing green ribbons for the Sandy Hooks school shooting (on Trump’s first day, he promised to get rid of gun-free zones in schools) and many, many women in their sixties who began their activism decades ago. One woman had come from Alaska for the march. ‘I’m just tired,’ she said. ‘I’m really, really tired. I thought we’d won these battles, and here we are again.’

Though the vast majority of marchers were women and girls, there were men there too, and the ones I saw were proper allies, their slogans and their behaviour very much in support of the women they came with (lots of ‘I’m with her!’ signs). All of us felt a call to action, all of us realised that marching alone won’t be enough. All of us know it’s going to get darker before it gets light again – we don’t get to sit this one out.


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