Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A talk on Thomas Hardy's Dorset next week

'Rural Idylls and Royal Ideals: Hardy's Dorset in the Twenty-First Century'
A talk by Professor Emeritus Roy Jones
Tuesday 27 May 2014
Francis Close Hall QU122
12:15 - 2:00
Everyone is welcome

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Gloucestershire's own Poets' Corner

Of the many writers and artists who have drawn inspiration from Gloucestershire and the borderlands, the Dymock Poets represent a particular moment in English life in the years leading up to WW1. Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, Eleanor Farjeon, and others, along with the American poet Robert Frost (for a while) settled in Dymock from about 1913 - 16.  They were drawn by the area's isolated beauty and the promise of companionship and support for their art, and for something more. Matthew Hollis writes: 'They came from the cities for an elemental life, for the earth beneath their boots or the breeze that stirred the wheat fields.' * Perhaps they idealised rural life, which is hard and unforgiving, then as now. For a while, though, the beautiful Leadon valley gave them the space and freedom that allowed them to develop as writers and artists.

We can still experience some of that peaceful beauty in Dymock today. In Spring, the paths to Dymock Woods trail through daffodils and bluebells. St. Mary's Church Dymock stands behind the village green, but the visitor is in for another surprise: the Poets Corner in the northwestern part of the church, where an exibition of poems, paintings, publications and information celebrates the Dymock Poets's achievements. Read more at the church's web page on the poets. You can see some more photos at our Flickr gallery.


                                                                  'oh! yet
                                                    Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
                                                    And is there honey still for tea?'
                                                    Rupert Brooke, 'The Old Vicarage, Grantchester' from Collected Poems (1916)
Frost and Thomas formed a close creative friendship, going for long walks in the Dymock Woods and along the valley. Thomas taught Frost to think his poems through the body, through the act of walking, not simply seeing. Roger Ebbatson remarks that 'Thomas's verse constantly implies the point of view of the walker in the landscape.' * In return, Frost teased his friend for being constitutionally indecisive and hesitant. A walk through the daffodil paths at Dymock is thought to be the origin of one of Frost's most famous poems. 
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost, 'The Road Not Taken' (1915)
Frost went back to the USA; Thomas was killed in action in France on Easter Monday 1917.
The University of Gloucestershire preserves the Dymock Poets Archive, part of our Gloucestershire Poets, Writers and Artists Special Collection.  Several research staff and postgraduate students in the School of Humanities have a particular interest in Thomas's work. But our connection with the work of local poets and writers goes beyond academic curiosity. Cheltenham and Gloucester are situated between the Cotswolds and the Severn, not far from the Forest of Dean and the Welsh borders. Our identity is strongly regional. Gloucestershire inspires everything we do, and it is the place to which we return continually in our work and university life.
* References: Matthew Hollis, Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas (London: Faber, 2011), p. 116; Roger Ebbatson, An Imaginary England: Nation, Landscape and Literature, 1840-1920 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), p. 167.
Photos: Hilary Weeks.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

English Literature announces the English essay competition for Sixth-Form and FE Students

First prize: a new iPad

Four Runners-up receive a £20 Book token

The English Literature Course at the University of Gloucestershire is launching a new Essay Prize.
The competition is open to all those currently studying for any AS or A2-level examinations (or equivalent) in the UK. The first prize is a new iPad, and there will be four runners-up prizes of £20 book tokens.

Entries must be no longer than 1500 words including footnotes but excluding references. All sources must be referenced.

The deadline for the 1500 word essay is 5pm on Friday 24 October 2014 and will be judged by English Literature lecturers. The winner will be announced on the English Literature Blog on 1 December 2014.

To enter please choose one of the titles below and email your entry to  (please note you may only submit one entry to the competition).

Entries must be written as a Microsoft Word document. Entries will normally be acknowledged within 5 days. In your email, please put your name, the Sixth Form or FE college you attend, and the title you have chosen to answer. The subject of your email should be 'essay competition'.

The University of Gloucestershire reserves the right to publish entries but entrants will retain copyright over their work. We intend to publish the winning essay on the English Literature Course Blog at

Choose one of the following titles:

Title 1: The Book in a Bottle. The Second Flood has drowned the world, and you can save only ONE book for future generations. Which book must survive? Argue your case.
Title 2: ‘Oh! It is only a novel’ (Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey). Is the novel form relevant to contemporary culture?
Title 3: ‘Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life’. (Charles Dickens, Hard Times). Is fiction more important than fact, and if so, why?

·       1500 words maximum
·       Your essay must include the title, your name, your school, and state your contact email at the top of the page
·       The essay must be an attachment to the email as a Microsoft Word document

Any essay that does not satisfy these three conditions will not be considered by the judging panel.
The panel decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Professor Shelley Saguaro delivers her Inaugural Lecture on Wednesday 14 May

Professor Shelley Saguaro's Inaugural Lecture, Much Madness, Such Sanity: Growing in the Garden of Humanities, will discuss the relationship between our discipline and what it means to be human. Her title draws on her longterm interests in the natural world, creativity, women writers from the seventeenth century to the present, and gardens. More information can be found here .

The lecture takes place on Wednesday 14 May at Park TC014 at 6:00 campus. Refreshments will be served in Elwes Reception area from 5:00, and there will be a drinks reception after the lecture at 7:00. Places are free of charge to staff and students, but you must book your place by emailing


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Hail and farewell

Anna Stebbing (University of Worcester) was the guest speaker at the final seminar hosted by the Centre for Writing, Place and History today. She demonstrated how the poet Edward Thomas's 'poetic evocation of the weather world' can be read within the framework of ecocriticism, including Heideggerian analysis of nature. As usual, the conversation was richly diverse, although the event was rather poignant, as organiser and chair Professor John Hughes remarked. For more than five years the CWPH has brought guest speakers to the University of Gloucestershire and offered scholarly dialogue to staff and students, as well as opportunities for colleagues to contribute. Never is this intellectual activity more welcome than when we are all buried under heavy marking and admin loads, or revising for exams.

The Centre has presented research seminars on topics ranging from Thomas Hardy, Richard Jefferies, F.W. Harvey, Ivor Gurney, and nineteenth-century illustration, to Baudrillard and 9/11 literature, and British Communist culture. Speakers have included (among many) Rebecca Welshman, Brian Maidment, Roger Ebbatson, Simon Dentith, and Roger Deeks. The Centre also organised a symposium, 'The (Dis) United Kingdom' on English and Scottish cultural identity and history.

The CWPH's scholarly work, like that of its fellow Humanities research group the Centre for the Bible and Spirituality, will be subsumed into the 'Being Human' project, established recently as a University Research Priority. With its discussion of weather, human consciousness and globalization, Anna's paper bridges the two research areas and looks to future projects.

Our thanks go to John for running the Centre and organising its activities. We will miss those Wednesday afternoons.

Dr Debby Thacker wins University Teaching Fellowship

Congratulations to all colleagues whose achievements were celebrated at the Staff Excellence Awards 2014, but our special congratulations to Dr Debby Thacker on receiving a University Teaching Fellowship. More photos in our Flickr gallery here and at the University Flickr page.

The School of Humanities dominated this year's Staff Excellence Awards: from left, Dr William Large (Religion, Philosophy and Ethics), Dr Debby Thacker, Dr Dave Webster, Dr Roy Jackson (both RPE).

Friday, 2 May 2014

Research seminar on Edward Thomas, poet of Gloucestershire and WW1

The Centre for Writing, Place and History
'"The sun filled earth and heaven with a great light": Edward Thomas's poetic evocation of the weather world'
Anna Stebbing (University of Worcester)
Wednesday 7 May 2014
Francis Close Hall HC204, 5:15
Everyone is welcome
Image: Bluebells in Dymock Woods.
Reproduced for educational purposes only