Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Jack Zipes speaks on 'The Grimness of Contemporary Fairy Tales' at the first Humanities Public Lecture at the University of Gloucestershire

The School of Humanities welcomed Professor Jack Zipes, the internationally-recognised scholar of fairy tales and children's literature, to Francis Close Hall last Wednesday evening for the first Humanities Public Lecture. More than a hundred people, including students and members of the public, joined us for this very special event.

Photo courtesy of Debby Thacker. Flowers and poster design by Simon Cuttell.

Professor Zipes is Emeritus Professor of German at the University of Minnesota and a prolific author. Dr Debby Thacker, herself an expert on children's literature, introduced Professor Zipes, noting that he had 'changed the way we think about fairy tales'. His lecture, 'The Grimness of Contemporary Fairy Tales', challenged everything we thought we knew about these formative stories.

Noting that the word 'grim' sits within a wide semantic field in both German and English - it connotes gloom, fierceness, roughness, authority - Professor Zipes asked us to bring 'a critical Grimness' to our sense of what these tales mean to us. Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm are the 'experimental founders of folklore' committed to storytelling and to the most demotic literary form, the fairy or 'wonder' tale. Their genius was 'personal, profound, artistic and scholarly' (and linguistic, since they gave their name to a vowel shift). However, their work also belonged to the new print culture that emerged in the early nineteenth century; the brothers questioned the tales even as they conserved and validated them.

Many contemporary writers have been drawn to the Grimm tales. Professor Zipes singled out Anne Sexton, Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt, Margaret Atwood, Emma Donoghue, Tanith Lee, Sara Maitland, Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman and Cornelia Hoegland as writers who have 'contested the authoritative sources while reshaping them'.

A short question and answer session with the audience followed, and Professor Shelley Saguaro proposed a vote of thanks. But that wasn't all: Professor Zipes stayed behind to chat with a few English Literature students and to sign their copies of The Complete Fairy Tales (Vintage 2004). Well, it is a class text, as Stanley Fish would say.

We thank Professor Zipes for a truly memorable occasion. We also thank Harriet Heathman, Sam Hyde, and Nicola Riley for their invaluable assistance, and all English Literature and Humanities students who attended.

Professor Zipes and Dr Thacker. Photo: H. Weeks

Friday, 15 November 2013

Jack Zipes to give Public Lecture at the University of Gloucestershire

We are thrilled to welcome Professor Jack Zipes, one of the world's leading literary scholars, to the School of Humanities public lecture series. Professor Zipes will be speaking on "The Grimness of Contemporary Fairy Tales" on Wednesday 20 November at Francis Close Hall, main lecture theatre TC001, at 7.30pm.

Jack Zipes is Professor Emeritus of German at the University of Minnesota and has previously held professorships at New York University, the University of Munich, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Florida. In addition to his scholarly work, he is an active storyteller in public schools.

Regarded as one of the world-leading scholars on storytelling, folk and fairy tales, he has published over 30 books including Sticks and Stones: The Troublesome Success of Children (2000), Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children (2004), Hans Christian Andersen: The Misunderstood Storyteller (2005), Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre (2006), The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-tale Films (2010), and The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre (2012). He has also translated a number of story collections.  More information about this event is here.

Tickets cost £5. For staff and students, there is no charge, but you must book your tickets through the Online Shop.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Standing room only at the English Literature talks on Saturday!

We are delighted that so many people came to visit us on Saturday. And yes, we need a bigger, better room for the English Literature talks - we'll work on it. To all our visitors, thanks for your patience and forebearance. Thanks also to our Student Representatives and Ambassadors who contributed so much to the talks and, we hope, made your visit worthwhile.

If you visited us on November 9, please feel free to post a comment.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Open Day on Saturday 9 November at Francis Close Hall

Please join us for our second Autumn Open Day on Saturday 9 November. The October Open Day went fabulously well, particularly since the sun came out in time for lunch. We are hoping to be as lucky again with the weather.  Francis Close Hall is the Gothic bit of the University, a five-minute walk from the town centre. Take a virtual tour of Francis Close Hall here.

You can find out about English Literature, English Literature and Creative Writing, and our other Humanities courses, including English Language and Linguistics; History; Religion, Philosophy and Ethics [RPE] and Theology and Religious Studies [TRS].

You'll meet some of the staff team, and people from Finance and Accommodation are on hand to answer your questions. Best of all, you'll meet current students who can talk with you about what it's  like to study with us. Our friendly Student Ambassadors (trying not to freeze in blue sweatshirts) will take you on a campus tour and are also happy to chat about life and work at the University of Gloucestershire.

Please take a look at our course maps for English Literature and  English Literature and Creative Writing  to see the modules we offer (clicking on the module titles will bring up full descriptors and links to reading lists).  And finally, this blog features posts on student activities, our research, the Cheltenham Literature Festival, and anything else of a literary nature that captures our imaginations as lifelong readers and writers. Please scroll through.

We hope to see you next Saturday.