Monday, 21 January 2013

George Orwell Day

Placa de George Orwell, Barcelona. Photo: H. Weeks
President Obama's second inauguration may have pushed the first annual George Orwell Day out of the headlines, but both occasions are remarkable and deserving of our notice. To mark the 63rd anniversary of Orwell' s death, Penguin Books have declared January 21 a day to remember and to re-read Orwell's novels, essays, and journalism. Today's Guardian collects the events in this article. It includes links to the  upcoming season,  The Real George Orwell  and to Orwell's celebrated 'Politics and the English Language'. Do Orwell's five rules of good writing still mean anything in the digital age? You decide.

He thought of the telescreen with its never-sleeping ear. They could spy upon you night and day, but if you kept your head you could still outwit them. With all their cleverness they had never mastered the secret of finding out what another human being was thinking.
              from Nineteen-Eighty-Four (1949): 2.7
George Orwell (Eric Blair) 
25 June 1903 - 21 January 1950

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Should your Humanities degree make you 'employable'?

Just before the Christmas break, research students and staff from the School of Humanities staged a debate on a subject exercising everyone in the HE sector: employability. Rowan Middleton, a postgraduate student of English Literature and Creative Writing, reports.

Panellists Dr Will Large, Dr Martin Randall, Professor Melissa Raphael, Dr Arran Stibbe and Dr Debby Thacker each outlined their position on the topic 'Should the Humanities embrace or resist the pressure to incorporate "employability" into its programmes?" before engaging in a lively debate. Some of the issues and questions raised are as follows.
  • The difficulty of defining 'employability'
  • A ‘wary handshake’ approach which combined ‘employability’ skills with a critical awareness of work.
  • A potential ‘backlash’ arising from the increased use of internships in the workplace.
  • The dangers involved in seeing people as ‘human capital’.
  • The need for humanities students to put more work into improving their CVs.
  • Are the arts ‘parasitic’ on society or a necessary part of society itself?
The debate could have continued, but we ran out of time – now is your chance to join the debate online by leaving a comment below...
Readers, what do you think?