Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The (Dis) United Kingdom: Symposium

Centre for Writing, Place, and History


The (Dis) United Kingdom -

Historical & Literary Perspectives on Devolution

Wednesday May 2nd, 2012

1.00-6.00 pm – TC 103 Park Campus, Cheltenham

The Centre for Writing, Place and History is holding a half day symposium to bring historical and literary perspectives to the debates on devolution, separation, and nationalism. The event will consist of two lectures followed by questions and discussion and a final plenary. The lectures will be:

‘Between States: Scotland, the UK and the Prospect of Independence’

Dr. Catriona Mac Donald (Reader in Late Modern Scottish History, University of Glasgow)

'A language is a dialect with an army and a navy - contemporary Scottish poetry and the language question'

Professor Simon Dentith (Head of Department at the Department of English Language
and Literature, University of Reading)

Please note that refreshments will be provided. To book a place or for further details, contact Prof. Neil Wynn - nwynn@glos.ac.uk - 01242 714697 – School of Humanities, University of Gloucestershire.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


Every avid reader understands that some books are to be tasted, some to be seen through to the end, and others to be read again at various stages for the rest of our lives. Last week in the Guardian several writers revealed the books that sustain them.

This is not to say that we re-read the same copy or edition. Most of my undergraduate books are still in storage somewhere in the West Country. When I must re-read something, for teaching or pleasure, I have to find another copy, preferably second-hand from wonderful bookshops like this one. Then I update my profile for anyone who cares (see right).

Kindle-owners tell me about all the extra reading they enjoy now that millions of texts are now within their reach. But do these readers (a) really finish the books they start and (b) despite the ease with which they can scare up any book they choose, do they re-read - or does the Kindle (TM) encourage a marathon mentality of getting through as many books as fast as possible? I need to know.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Adrienne Rich, 1929 - 2012

Many students of literature will know some of the prose writing of the poet Adrienne Rich, who has died aged 82, if not her poetry. 'When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision' (1972) urges readers to rethink - recognise, even - the patriachal assumptions underpinning literary criticism. Her obituaries remind us that she remained a fully committed writer to the last; Saturday's Guardian piece by Julie Bindel notes how many honours Rich turned down, for she would not accept them for the wrong reasons. The L.A. Times notice reprints some of her poetry.

Rich rejected the cult of personality and the rivalries it produces. In 1974 three poets wrote a collective acceptance speech for the National Book Awards. Here it is:

We, Audre Lord, Adrienne Rich, and Alice Walker, together accept this award in the name of all the women whose voices have gone and still go unheard in a patriarchal world, and in the name of those who, like us, have been tolerated as token women in this culture, often at great cost and in great pain [...] none of us could accept this money for herself, nor could she let go unquestioned the terms on which poets are given or denied honor and livelihood in this world, especially when they are women. We dedicate this occasion to the struggle for self-determination of all women, of every color, identification or derived class: the poet, the housewife, the lesbian, the mathematician, the mother, the dishwasher, the pregnant teen-ager, the teacher, the grandmother, the prostitute, the philosopher, the waitress, the women who will understand what we are doing here and those who will not understand yet; the silent women whose voices have been denied us, the articulate women who have given us strength to do our work.

(repr. Elaine Showalter, A Literature of Their Own, revised edition (London: Virago, 1982), 315-16)