Lisa Matthews wins Welshpool poetry competition

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Final-year PhD candidate/PGR researcher Lisa Matthews has been announced as the winner of the 2018 Welshpool Poetry Festival competition. The event took place over the weekend of 8/9 June, and festival judge Andrew McMillan said of Lisa’s prize-winning entry:

‘Gaze’ is a poem that I’m still working out each time I read it; the definite nature of the title is misleading, it’s a kaleidoscopic, shifting poem which keeps returning the reader to a place of uncertainty. Each time we return to it things appear slightly clearer, we see a little more, but then the ground moves beneath us again. It’s as if we are looking at the world through a diamond.

Lisa’s doctoral research at Northumbria explores the role of prose poem sequences in transforming life experience into poetry; and ‘Gaze’ is a prose poem triptych taken from an emergent practice strand.

The news is timely as Lisa’s fourth collection, Callisto, has just been released by Scotland-based publisher Red Squirrel Press. Callisto is made entirely of interconnected prose poem sequences and Gillian Allnutt has described Callisto as a “courageous book, clear-eyed, unflinching”. For more details about Lisa and her writing/research visited her academic profile and writer’s portfolio.

To read Lisa’s prize-wining poem ‘Gaze’ visit the Welshpool website, where you can also view Andrew McMillan’s full statement about the selected poems, and get more information about this annual festival.

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)

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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.

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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

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.

Border

[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)

On The Farm

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(It’s behind a paywall but) there’s a fascinating piece by our colleague Daisy Hildyard in the current issue of the London Review of Books:

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n11/daisy-hildyard/on-the-farm

The piece relates to Daisy’s most recent book The Second Body which is published by Fitzcarraldo.

Daisy is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Northumbria, working on a project which involves shadowing people, from scientists to butchers, who know about animal’s lives.

The project, her novel and this article are all fascinating.

Inventing the Myth: Political Passions and the Ulster Protestant Imagination

 

We are delighted to hear that our colleague Connal Parr, who is a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in the Humanities here at Northumbria University, has been nominated for the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize

Connal’s book, Inventing the Myth: Political Passions and the Ulster Protestant Imagination, is an innovative and original exploration of Ulster Protestantism, focusing on the intersections of theatre, culture and politics and highlighting new perspectives which challenge some of the ideas which often circulate about twentieth-century Protestant culture. Here’s a description from the book’s website:

“Through its exploration of class division and drama from the early twentieth century to the present, the book restores the progressive and Labour credentials of the community’s recent past along with its literary repercussions, both of which appear in recent decades to have diminished. Drawing on over sixty interviews, unpublished scripts, as well as rarely-consulted archival material, it shows – contrary to a good deal of clichéd polemic and safe scholarly assessment – that Ulster Protestants have historically and continually demonstrated a vigorous creative pulse as well as a tendency towards Left wing and class politics. St. John Ervine, Thomas Carnduff, John Hewitt, Sam Thompson, Stewart Parker, Graham Reid, Ron Hutchinson, Marie Jones, Christina Reid, and Gary Mitchell profoundly challenge as well as reflect their communities. Illuminating a diverse and conflicted culture stretching beyond Orange Order parades, the weaving together of the lives and work of each of the writers highlights mutual themes and insights on their identity, as if part of some grander tapestry of alternative twentieth-century Protestant culture. Ulster Protestantism’s consistent delivery of such dissenting voices counters its monolithic and reactionary reputation.”

The Whitfield Prize is awarded by the Royal Historical Society for an author’s first book in the field of British or Irish history. You can read more details here

Congratulations, Connal!