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.

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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!

Separated By A Common Language?

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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

Lisa Matthews – Launch of Callisto

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Northumbria Creative Writing PhD student Lisa Matthews launches her new collection of prose poems Callisto in June. The Newcastle launch takes place at the Lit & Phil on Wednesday 13th June, 7-9pm. Lisa will be reading from the book, with support from Gillian Allnutt, Linda France, Crista Ermiya and Jo Colley. She will also be attempting an audience recitation of one of the poems from the book. All welcome.