Fiona Shaw: ‘Outwalkers’, ‘Tell It To The Bees’ and Yaddo

 

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We are delighted that our colleague Fiona Shaw has been nominated for 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal for her novel Outwalkers  You can find the full list of nominations here

To add to this, Fiona has also been awarded a month’s residency at the prestigious Yaddo artists’ retreat, whose prior residents have included James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Katherine Anne Porter and Jeffrey Eugenideshttps://www.yaddo.org/about/history/

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Meanwhile, the film version of Fiona’s novel Tell It To The Bees has been appearing at festivals, including at Cannes and the Toronto film festival

We are very happy about this well-deserved recognition of Fiona’s work

Induction, quizzing and the new year

 

We’ve had a great start to the new academic year. Lots of lovely and lively students joined us during induction week. Here are some photos from the Humanities Induction Quiz which was great fun.

We were impressed by the general and specific knowledge of the students, and especially by the incredibly high scoring winning team.  Here they are already enjoying their weetabix (other cereals and food groups are available):

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We’re looking forward to working with our new and returning students this year!

From Private to Public Exposure: Portraits, Prints and the Royal Mistress

Dr. Claudine van Hensbergen will be giving a public lecture at Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery on Wednesday 7th November.

This talk is inspired by Exposed: The Naked Portrait exhibition.

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Nell Gwyn, attributed to Simon Verelst. NPG L248.

Simon Verelst’s portrait of Nell Gwyn (c. 1670) is one of a number the artist produced of Charles II’s most famous mistress. Nell looks out at us from the canvas, meeting the viewer’s eye with a seductive gaze. The tone of the milky pearls strewn in her loosely-flowing locks echoes the creamy skin of her exposed torso. Nell turns slightly from us, in a teasing gesture that suggests she has just wriggled free of her nightshirt for the viewer’s benefit. Yet how daring, or unique, was this portrait? And how widespread was its influence? This talk answers these questions by exploring portraiture of the mistresses of Charles II, tracing how many of these images became products for public consumption through the new technology of mezzotint engraving. England’s developing print culture, which also made numerous literary treatments of the mistress available to a growing readership, fed a cultural fascination with these women and gave them the status of early celebrities.

Claudine van Hensbergen is Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century English Literature at Northumbria University. She is close to completing a new book, Reading the Royal Mistress: Women in Print, 1660-1735, and specialises in the literary and visual culture of Britain at the turn of the eighteenth century.

For more details and booking information please visit the Laing’s website here.

The language of the lake

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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 . . .

 

Character to Caricature

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Character to Caricature 1660 to 1850 is a one-day conference organised by Northumbria Postgraduate student Montana Davies-Shuck (Northumbria) and Jenny Buckley (York).

It takes place in the Institute of Humanities at Northumbria on the 3rd of September 2018.

The keynote speaker is Elaine McGirr (Bristol).

You can find full details of the programme at:

@Character2018 or http://www.character2018.wordpress.com/

It should be a great day!

 

Studying English at University

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I’m looking forward to visiting Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington this afternoon to talk about studying English at university.

One thing we’ll be looking at is Jorge Luis Borges’s story Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote

I’m looking forward to seeing what the students think about it.

I’m also planning to show them this undergraduate essay:

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That’s the video essay. There’s also a written essay to accompany it here

Colleagues at Northumbria love visiting schools and working with students and teachers.

Do get in touch if you’e like to visit us or for us to visit you.

Remember also that we have an exciting event coming up next Wednesday when Lynne Murphy will be talking about differences between British and American English in our Annual Linguistics Lecture

There are still places available for Lynne’s talk but do book if you’d like to come

Rethinking the Anglo-Scottish Borders

On 1 June 2018, the Borders and Borderlands Research Group held a symposium on the Anglo-Scottish Borderlands at Northumbria’s Institute of the Humanities. The symposium gathered together a wide range of scholars from across several disciplines to think about the past and the future of this fascinating, occasionally fractious, and culturally rich region.

Borderlines, in the age of President Trump’s plans for a ‘beautiful’ border wall and ongoing crises from Syria to Myanmar, are unusually vexed. The largely ‘soft’ border to the north of us linking Scotland and England does not possess this level of threat. Following the Brexit referendum, however, the social, economic and environmental future of the region looks increasingly uncertain. The symposium performed its own act of ‘border crossing’, asking artists and academics between the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to think about the rich cultural resources of the region. Central to the day was an exploration of how understandings of the past might shed light on the present and help us to imagine the future of this predominantly rural region with its common bonds, shared resources but often a mutual sense of disconnection and isolation.

Across the day, the borderlands began both to come into focus and to seem increasingly complicated. Borders history presents an area that interweaves cultural, political, and environmental strands into what Professor Ysanne Holt (drawing on the region’s rich textile heritage) described as a ‘weave, a meshwork’. How to read the landscape, with its bogs and mosses, its hills and ‘debatable lands’, its rivers that connect and divide, became a productive, if unsettled, question. For many of the contributors, the methods that we use to read the area must themselves be open and flexible. Art practice – creative writing, dance, map-making, glass-making, photography, film – offers uniquely valuable responses to that question.

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[Photo credit: Oliver Moss]

This is an area often forgotten and difficult to map. The referenda on greater Scottish Independence and EU membership seem to have raised more questions than settled answers for the region. That so much of the area is rural is a part of this, and many contributors reflected on the importance of listening attentively to the voices of the region, voices that possess their own winking humour and flexible pragmatism. But a rural region is not one stuck in the past: the area has always been mobile, always been a place of change that is open to the world. The difficulty we have in mapping it may be one of its greatest strengths as we look to address the wider issues of borders and borderings so prominent in today’s society.

Claire Pençak, a Borders-based artist, described the area as one in which ‘alternative arrangements’ proliferate. The multiplicity of responses the area offers to us suggest its vitality. Perhaps we can learn to be guided by Hermes (a.k.a. Mercury), the deity of borders, crossroads, translations, transactions, who ‘signifieth subtill men, ingenious, inconstant: rymers, poets, advocates, orators, phylosophers, arithmeticians, and busie fellowes’.

This is the latest of an ongoing series of events by the Borders and Borderlands Research Group. For more information contact Professor Ysanne Holt (ysanne.holt@northumbria.ac.uk) or Dr David Stewart (david.stewart@northumbria.ac.uk)