The language of the lake

alexbellosUrosimage

Today’s puzzle from Alex Bellos in The Guardian requires a range of skills which can be developed in English Language programmes (and in other subjects, including maths).

As Alex says, today’s puzzle is ‘hard, but not impossible’. He also suggests that working on puzzles like this can help you develop the skills needed to find a job with technology firms such as google. That suggestions is based on this article by Sam Gibbs in which he reports thoughts from google’s head of search, Ben Gomes.

Alex’s puzzle is one that has been used in the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad, one of several linguistics olympiads held around the world which then select teams to enter the International Linguistics Olympiad. The UK Linguistics Olympiad has been  very successful with lots of school students taking part each year.

You have until 5pm UK time today to solve it before Alex reveals the answer . . .

 

Writers and intellectuals on Britain and Europe, 1918–2018

Here again is the call for papers for a major conference coming up in November.  The deadline for abstracts is 30 July 2018.

. . .

CALL FOR PAPERS

Writers and intellectuals on Britain and Europe, 1918–2018: 

An international conference 

Northumbria University | Newcastle upon Tyne | 1-2 November 2018

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Prof. Jason Harding (University of Durham)

Prof. Bob Eaglestone (Royal Holloway, University of London)

(For additional confirmed speakers, please see https://europeanconversations.com/programme/)

The British EU Referendum on 23 June 2016 once more threw into relief Britain’s conflicted relationship to and with the rest of Europe. While newspaper discourse and political rhetoric have been the focus of much popular and critical attention, debates around the referendum and its likely consequences have not been limited to journalists and politicians. Writers and academics were among those publicly commenting on Britain’s position in Europe, from J.K. Rowling, whose vocal tweets courted controversy among her fans, to EU law expert Professor Michael Dougan (University of Liverpool), whose videos on the subject of the Brexit campaign and its impact have been viewed by millions of people in Britain and abroad. 2017 also saw the emergence of what was quickly dubbed ‘BrexLit’, including high-profile titles such as Ali Smith’s Autumnor Adam Thorpe’s Missing Fay.

This conference seeks to connect the diverse literary and scholarly interventions in current and recent Brexit debates with earlier interventions by British writers and intellectuals into the relationship between Britain and Europe. It aims to bring together creative writers and researchers in literary and cultural studies with an interest in Britain and Europe to facilitate an exchange of ideas and encourage cross-period and cross-disciplinary exchange. The central questions and concerns to be addressed by the conference – Britain’s relationship to Europe and the place of writers and intellectuals in the process of defining this relationship – are likely to remain topical for some time to come, as Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union progresses through the negotiating stages.

The conference sessions will cover three main strands: (1) European debates of the inter-war years and the 1940s, (2) literary interventions in the wake of the 1975 United Kingdom European Communities membership referendum, and (3) present-day writers and intellectuals and the Brexit debate. The conference will offer a space to address any kinds of interventions, both for and against closer ties between Britain and Europe.

Three central questions will be addressed by the conference: 

(1) What contributions did/do writers and intellectuals make to debates about Britain’s integration into Europe in the public sphere? 

(2) How did/do writers and intellectuals reflect privately and in correspondence with each other on matters relating to Britain’s integration into Europe?

(3) What motivations drove/drive writers and intellectuals’ involvement in these debates, and how are these articulated? 

The conference looks at writers’ and intellectuals’ contributions to Anglo-European debates over the past century, seeking to draw out parallels and to establish challenges and opportunities. A public round table event will serve to articulate some of the lessons to be drawn from such a comparison, and will look at the experience of writers and academics who have themselves intervened in debates around Brexit.

We invite proposals for papers from researchers and writers that speak to any one of the conference strands and/or questions. Please send abstracts of up to 300 words, accompanied by a short biographical statement and contact details, to Dr Ann-Marie Einhaus at ann-marie.einhaus@northumbria.ac.ukEXTENDED deadline for submitting abstracts: 30 July 2018.

Thanks to generous support from UACES, there will be some support available for postgraduate speakers without institutional travel funds. Please indicate on your proposal whether you wish to be considered.

The conference website is www.europeanconversations.com

Bridges and Oceans (well, one ocean)

building bridges

It’s a busy week for Humanities colleagues at Northumbria.  With assessment boards over, we’ve been reviewing the delivery of modules and programmes this academic year and preparing for next.  There are lots of good things to celebrate, including lots of great achievements by students and staff, and we have lots of good ideas for next year.

Tomorrow, we have two important events happening on campus.

First, we are being visited by school subject leaders and teachers of English and History for our Building Bridges day.  We will spend the day discussing some of of our teaching and other activities and exploring ways we can work together to develop resources and activities to support teaching and project work.

One focus of the day will, of course, be how things have changed recently, including the effects of GCSE and A Level reforms.

lynnemurphygallery

After that, Lynne Murphy will be giving the Northumbria Annual Linguistics Lecture, exploring differences between British and American English.  Bookings for this quickly got close to our initial capacity so we adapted things so we can accommodate a bigger audience. It’s not too late to book a place:

Separated by a Common Language? Northumbria Annual Linguistics Lecture

We’ll tell you more about how things go after tomorrow

Separated By A Common Language?

lynnemurphygallery

We are delighted to announce that Professor Lynne Murphy, from the University of Sussex  will be delivering the Northumbria Annual Linguistics Lecture on our city campus at 6pm on Wednesday the 20th of June.

Lynne is a very engaging speaker and this will be a fun and fascinating talk.

The event is free and open to all. Places are limited so book here to make sure you reserve a place:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/northumbria-annual-linguistics-lecture-2018-tickets-45985097665

Time and date: 6pm, 20 June 2018

Location: Lipman Lecture Theatre (Lipman 031), Lipman Building, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST

Directions and campus map: https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/our-campuses/newcastle-city-campus/

Title: Separated by a Common Language? the complicated relationship between American & British English

Summary:

When faced with British English, Americans are apt to be impressed and are often made a bit insecure about their own linguistic abilities. When thinking about American English, Britons often express dismissiveness or fear. This has been going on for nearly 300 years, developing into a complex mythology of British–American linguistic relations.

This talk looks into the current state of the “special relationship” between the two national standards. How did we get to the point that the BBC publishes headlines like “How Americanisms are killing the English language” while Americans tweet “Everything sounds better in a British accent”? The answer is in a broad set of problematic beliefs. We’ll look at how different the two national Englishes are (and why they’re not more different), why neither has claim to being older than the other, and why technology isn’t making us all speak or write the same English.

About Lynne:

Lynne Murphy is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England. Since 2006, her alter ego Lynneguist has written the Separated by a Common Language blog. There, she reflects on UK–US linguistic differences from the perspective of an American linguist in England, while fighting the good fight against linguistic myths and prejudice. She continues that fight in The Prodigal Tongue: The Love–Hate Relationship between British and American English (Oneworld, 2018).

Queries and further information: If you have any questions about the event, please contact Billy Clark: billy.clark@northumbria.ac.uk

Building Bridges 2018

Booking is now open for our free event for teachers of History, English Language, Literature and Creative Writing at our City Campus East on the 20th of June.

We will discuss recent curriculum changes, explore ways for school and university students and teachers to work together, and offer and discuss resources for teachers to use in delivering content at Key Stages 4 and 5.

There is further information and booking form here:

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/academic-departments/humanities/study/building-bridges—humanities-conference/

Book early to make sure you don’t miss out!

 

From Shakespeare’s Stage to the Digital Page: Why Study English Literature at Degree Level?

Katy Shaw, our Professor of Contemporary Writings, has written an article for the UK English Media Centre about the many reasons why an English Literature degree is a great choice for for graduates of the future. Read it here:

https://www.englishandmedia.co.uk/blog/from-shakespeares-stage-to-the-digital-page-why-study-english-literature

shakespeareipad

Hauntology

There are many excited readers this week as they have been receiving their pre-order copies of Hauntology, the new book by our colleague Professor Katy Shaw

Katy is Professor of English Literature at Northumbria and a leading figure in work on 21st century writing, working class literature, representations of post-industrial regeneration, and the languages of comedy.

As its subtitle says, this book explores ‘the presence of the past in contemporary literature’. We can’t wait to see what it says about the work of Simon Armitage, Jez Butterworth, Zadie Smith, David Peace and others.

The book is dedicated to Mark Fisher, a key name in work on hauntology and other areas of criticism.