UROP 2020: Tracing the Nigerian Civil War in the archives of Heinemann’s African Writers Series

Dr Sue Walsh is looking to recruit a student in the middle year(s) of their undergraduate degree (second year, or third year of four year degree) to work on a project working on the archives of Heinemann’s African Writers Series, which published Chinua Achebe’s famous novel Things Fall Apart as the first novel in the series. A full description of the project can be found here:


The African Writers Series was particularly significant for the development of postcolonial literature in Africa; one reason for this was that Chinua Achebe acted as its editorial adviser and as well as being credited as the father of modern African literature he is also an influence on contemporary writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. When the series was first established in 1962, Nigerian authors were among its most significant contributors, many being from the south-east (including Achebe); but in 1967 civil war broke out when the south-eastern part of Nigeria attempted to secede from the rest of the country.

The focus of the project will be to conduct initial research to see where and how the civil war is referenced in the archives relating to particular authors who wrote about the war or were based in the south-east. Since Heinemann was in the difficult position of being a British company (Britain supported Nigeria during the war) publishing a significant number of authors from the secessionist side of the conflict whilst trying to maintain its offices in Nigeria, you will also research into where and how the civil war is discussed in the papers of the publishers during this period (1967-70). You will be responsible for writing a blog on your research to be hosted on the Special Collections website, and in collaboration with me (Dr Sue Walsh), and you will write an article supported by an online exhibition of material curated from the archives to be launched in Black History Month, October 2020.

The project involves:

Original research on the African Writers Series in the Heinemann archives: tracing references to, and discussions of, the Nigerian civil war and its impacts both on individuals and on Heinemann’s publishing ventures in Nigeria. Identifying relevant materials within the archives to examine, document, and write about (in blog posts for the Special Collections website) in relation to the issues above. Research on archive materials relating to selected Nigerian authors who wrote about the civil war, and on selected uncatalogued papers. Co-authorship of an online article and co-curation of online exhibition material for the new Special Collections website promoting the AWS archives to be published at the beginning of Black History Month, October 2020. Research for project (50%) Blogging about the research (20%) Co-authorship of article with co-curated exhibition (30%).

I welcome applications from students who have a willingness and ability to work independently and think critically and have an interest in post-colonial literature.

The project will be for the equivalent of 6 weeks at 30 hours per week paid at the rate of £220/week. I am aiming for the placement to by mid-to late June but pre-booked holidays and other commitments can be accommodated.

To apply for the project please check out the full details of the project at the link above, and send your CV, with details of two referees, and a brief cover letter/email explaining why you are interested in this specific opportunity to Dr Sue Walsh (s.a.b.walsh@reading.ac.uk) by end of day (5pm) on 3rd April 2020.

Interviews are currently planned to be held in the first week of summer term 2020.
UROP 2020: a chance to complete a research project, get paid and boost your employability! For more information  see: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/UROP/ForStudents/For_students.aspx


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Centre for Health Humanities: (Dis)ability at the Centre

Join us to explore the experiences and representations of (dis)ability
past and present, through different media, in and outside of

3 February, 12-1.30pm, Chancellors G13
Dr Kai Syng Tan (Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University)
‘Neurodiversity in Higher Education Research Network?’

24 February, 12-1.30pm, Chancellors G13
Dr Marjorie Gehrhardt (Modern Languages, University of Reading)
‘Learning to live with visible facial differences: the reintegration of facially injured
servicemen in post-WW1 Great Britain’

9 March, 12-1.30pm, Chancellors G13
Professor Hannah Thompson (Centre for Visual Cultures, RHUL)
Title tbc

23 March, 12-2pm, Chancellors G13
Nicole Brown (UCL), in conversation with representatives of the Staff Disability Network
‘Ableism in academia: the lived experiences of disabled, chronically ill and/or
neurodiverse staff in higher education’

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Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies spring term seminars

Thursday  30 January, 4.30pm, Edith Morley 124

Myra Bom (Royal Holloway, University of London)
‘Agency and Divorce. The Case of Constance of France (1165).’

Thursday  19 March, 4.30pm, Edith Morley 124 

Christa Gray (University of Reading)
‘Dead body problems: burials in Jerome’s Lives of Holy Men.’ 

Thursday  26 March, 4.30pm, Edith Morley 124 

Megan Leitch (University of Cardiff)
‘Sleep and its Spaces in Middle English Literature: Emotions, Ethics, Dreams’. 

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Early Modern Research Centre spring term seminars

Monday 10 February, 1 pm, Edith Morley 181

Dr. Gillian Woods (Birkbeck),’ “Go make your liuely battel”: representing violence on the Renaissance stage’.

Monday 24 February, 1 pm, Edith Morley 181

Dr. Alanna Skuse (Reading), ‘Biting one’s tongue: glossotomy and gesture in The Spanish Tragedy

Monday 9 March, 1pm, Edith Morley 181

Dr. Lauren Working (Oxford, TIDE project),  ‘Coming of Age with Empire: Performing Colonization at the Inns of Court’


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University of Reading’s 2019 Beckett week, 6-9 November

We are delighted to welcome you to the University of Reading’s 2019 Beckett week, 6-9 November in the Minghella Studios, Whiteknights campus, Shinfield Road RG6 6BT.

Events include:

A conference on Beckett and Italy on 7th-8th November, 9.30am onwards. Minghella Cinema. You can book and find the fees and schedule here:

This link also allows you to book for the free performances on the evenings of Wednesday 6th, Thursday 7th and Friday 8th as below:

Wednesday 6th November 7.30pm. BULMERSHE Theatre Minghella Studios: Staged reading of Creative Fellow Robert McCrum’s play about Samuel Beckett and PG Wodehouse in Paris at the end of WW II directed by Michael Hoffman with David Horowitch and David Threlfall. Followed by Q &A

Thursday 7th November 7.30pm. BULMERSHE Theatre Minghella Studios:. Premiere of Creative Fellow Tim Parkinson’s string quartet followed by Q&A

Friday 8th November 6pm. BOB KAYLEY Theatre Minghella Studios: Public performance of ‘This Here: An exploration of fragility and embodiment amongst stroke survivors’, inspired by Beckett’s work, created and performed by Rosetta Life, a company that works with stroke survivors. Followed by Q&A

On Saturday 9th November we will be holding the 2019 Beckett International Foundation seminar from 10.30 – 17.30. You can find the schedule, fees and book by following the link below.

Please register by 2pm on Friday 1 November:

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The English Society reports on the English Literature Department Research Evening.

Last week The English Society and other students attended a research evening hosted by some of the staff from the English Literature department, Karin Lesnik-Oberstein and David Brauner. It was a very informative and enjoyable evening, giving students an interesting glimpse into pathways to follow for a potential career, one that many hadn’t considered. We have gained an insight into how our lecturers have developed their careers and come to find their specialist subjects, something that a lot of students have wondered about during their time at the university. Something the English Literature department has been lacking is a stronger relationship between the students and the staff and this event definitely started to bridge the gap. It was a nice chance to speak to our lecturers outside of lectures and seminars in an informal and personal setting. David’s specialist subject of ​graphic novels was interesting to learn about, hearing stories of how this had come from reading his older brothers comic books, eventually leading to a job as a lecturer in an English Literature department. Karin’s story was slightly different as she doesn’t have a set specialist subject. Despite this, it was just as interesting to hear about the ways in which she can apply literature to other departments such as maths and science, considering how reading can be applied to these things. We also enjoyed hearing about the favourite authors of the two lecturers; with David stressing his love for Leo Tolstoy, and Karin surprisingly yet interestingly labelling Freud as her favourite. The setting of this first research evening was perfect. It was such an intimate group, so everyone was able to ask the questions they had and got detailed and informative answers. Alongside the enlightening evening, we also had a selection of crisps and cakes – something that was appreciated by all.

We are all looking forward to the next evening in November with Nicola Wilson.

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Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies Seminars Autumn 2019

Seminars will be held on Thursdays at 4.30 pm in Edith Morley 124 unless otherwise stated.

11 October FRIDAY, 4.30pm Edith Morley 124

Helen Nicholson (University of Cardiff), ‘Queen Sybil of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade’

14 November

Stenton Lecture: 6.30pm in the Van Emden lecture theatre.

Ronald Hutton (University of Bristol), ‘Reconsidering the Question of Pagan Survivals in the Christian Middle Ages’.

The lecture will be proceeded by a colloquium in the afternoon – more details to follow

28  November

Jonathan Harris (Royal Holloway, University of London), ‘The late Byzantine aristocracy and the mystery of the Perivleptos’

12 December

Carole Hillenbrand (University of Edinburgh)  ‘Odd men out?  The Turks in twelfth-century Syria’


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“From Switzerland” by Peter Robinson published by LONGITŪDINĒS

On 1 October, “From Switzerland”, Peter Robinson’s new sequence of poems, appeared on the LONGITŪDINĒS website, the first publication of this new founded magazine.

LONGITŪDINĒS is an arts and literature magazine, with annual print editions and online content. It is conceived as an arts and literary platform that gathers in one place the work of the most interesting writers and artists based in Europe. Its aim is the promotion and the dissemination of a European Art and Literature, at a time in which local politics seems to push towards the construction of walls and closure of borders. Its name LONGITŪDINĒS reflects this intention to cross boundaries.

The print edition includes the original texts alongside their English translation. Translations into other languages are published on the website when they become available.

LONGITŪDINĒS recognises the fundamental role covered by translation in the dissemination of culture and aims to make it an integral part of its project and to give translators a too often unrecognised credit. Translators who would like to collaborate are invited to get in touch with the editors at editors@longitudines.com.


LONGITŪDINĒS is now inviting submissions for its First Issue, due to be published in Autumn 2020. They are looking for artworks, and short prose, poetry and drama written in any European language.

Submitted artworks and texts must be previously unpublished. Multiple submissions are acceptable as long as we are notified immediately if they are accepted for publication elsewhere. Print quality artworks and texts in PDF must be submitted by 1 January 2020 to submissions@longitudines.com. All submissions must be accompanied by a short bio of the author. Texts should not exceed the following specifications:

Prose: 6,000 words

Poetry: 150 lines

Drama: 3,000 words

Submissions will be acknowledged. Authors will be notified of editorial decisions.

For queries contact us at info@longitudines.com or visit www.longitudines.com.

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Immy Mason-Evans on ‘Mastering your Masters (based on experience)’

You will expect your masters to feel like the natural step up from your undergraduate degree. You will expect to feel confident and comfortable discussing theories, criticism and your own literary analysis. After the longest summer, fuelled by the success of your undergraduate achievement you will feel prepared and excited for this new journey. This is short lasting. I’m sorry. In your first seminar you will feel like your brain has replaced all literary intellect with each episode of that summer’s Love Island. Your peers will each seem like literature student deities; omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent both in and out the classroom. This is intimidating, you will sit in the least noticeable spot, feeling inherently incapable and refusing eye contact. You are incessantly aware that at any moment MI5 will storm the room with warrants and evidence of your wrongful acceptance onto the course, revealing you as the fraud you are and whisking you away in the back of a van never to be seen again (this will make it difficult to focus on Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World and make it unlikely you investigate the utopia in your end of term essay).

After a few weeks of perpetual self-torture and agonising over manuscripts and Mary Shelley you will organise a meeting with the director of your course. You reveal your fraudulence in the programme, confess your complete inadequacy and admit your inability to understand even the likes of Biff and Chip let alone Materiality and Textuality. You will plead guilty to your failure and announce you are dropping out of the course. They suggest you wait out the term, hint at brighter skies ahead and wryly muse on Imposter Syndrome. You will self-diagnose yourself with Imposter Syndrome after reading the Wiki-page on the walk home, console yourself and remind yourself of the evidence of your competence. You will then start to wonder if you might be faking the whole imposter thing and that at any moment MI5 will storm the room, reveal you as a fraudulent fraudster and whisk you away in the back of a van never to be seen again.

Regardless, I am happy to announce that the reversion to first year seminar silence only lasts the first half of first term. You will succeed in your first assignments and put the MI5 investigation into jeopardy. By second term you will have found your voice again, your deity-peers will appear more human and you will voluntarily participate in seminars. The crippling self-doubt remains – I am afraid it comes part and parcel with the pursuit of knowledge – though you will find ways to drown it out (Lo-Fi Hip-Hop Beats to Study/Relax To). You will spend all your time reading and researching, at some mundane moment at approximately 3.08pm on a Thursday you will realise this is enjoyable not terrifying. The transformation concludes with a preference for Park House over Park Bar, shocking.

I appreciate this sounds like hard work and survival. It is. Not forgetting the money worries, working part-time job(s) and maintaining a social life, it will be the hardest year of your life. Also the best. In twelve months you will make the same level of self-discovery and self-improvement that took three years during your undergraduate. Friendships will deepen, new ones will come, you will continually improve your close reading and writing. You will spend a summer writing a 15,000 word dissertation so central to your life, your dreams and your ego that upon completion you consider going to the council and registering a birth. You will surpass yourself in all ways. MI5 are no longer at the door. (This being said, I won’t feel safe until I graduate.)                    – Imogen Mason-Evans


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Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein on BBC4

BBC Radio 4 recently aired a documentary on Hairy Art that featured Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein.

If you missed it when it first aired (Tuesday, 13th August at 11.30am), you can still listen to it on BBC Sounds

For more information on Professor Lesnik-Oberstein’s research, please visit her webpage.

 Karin did an interview for ABC Australia on women and body hair recently, another sign of the continued interest in her work. You can read the article here.

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