Monday, 30 March 2015

Celebrating success!

It's the time of year when, as Personal Tutors, the English team invite their students to come and discuss their academic progress, offer advice on how to improve assignments and encourage students' dreams for the future.  So it was with great delight, when I was popping to the Cheltenham Everyman theatre with a group of students recently, that the review I read about Absence of War was by one of my own former tutees, Alice Lloyd.

Alice achieved her 2.1 in English Literature in 2013 offering a lovely dissertation on John Milton's Paradise Lost. Bearing in mind Milton's firm belief in freedom of speech and expression, it seemed perfectly natural for Alice to continue her studies with an MA in Journalism at the University of Gloucestershire for which she was awarded a Merit in 2014.

Now, Alice is Editorial Assistant at So Glos, the leading online guide to Gloucestershire Arts. Alice's passion for the Arts was evident as a student when she volunteered at the Parabola Arts Centre and I remember Alice making lots of lively contributions to the Stages of Drama strand. So, for all our students pondering their futures, the most important thing is to aim high and follow your dreams! Here is Alice's review, courtesy of So Glos, and I'll certainly be looking out for further recommendations. To read the full review please click on the link below.

'Sharply satirical and tackling topical issues, The Headlong Theatre Company breathed new life into David Hare's The Absence of War at the Everyman Theatre.

With a growing sense of apathy, cynicism and general angst sweeping the nation in regards to current politics, as well as the media build-up surrounding the 2015 general election, David Hare’s The Absence of War has never been more topical.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Chloe Phillips' reviews 'Absence of War' at the Cheltenham Everyman

On Thursday 19th March, twenty two students from across Humanities enjoyed a brilliant staging of David Hare's Absence of War at the Cheltenham Everyman. Chloe Phillips, a third year English Literature and English Language student, shares her thoughts on the production:
Last week’s performance of The Absence of War by David Hare at the Everyman Theater, Cheltenham went beyond all my expectations of this play. Although a great piece of writing, I was slightly concerned that this was going to be a disinteresting play (too political) and a little bit tedious with its focus on a failed politican, George Jones. However, for me, the performance was a memorable success.
Headlong Theatre's take on the text was powerful and enlightening, making me care about politics and politicans in ways that are not part of my normal day to day life. As an audience, we were offered an intimate look into the trouble and care politicians put into trying to make their visions part of Britain which was really refreshing. Although Hare wrote his play for the 1992 elections, we cannot deny that the issues raised have many similarities with those of the all important 2015 elections, with just as much scrutiny being put on our politicians today. Due to these electric parallels, Absence of War could not have been staged at a better time.

It was not just the star cast that were brilliant but all of the company performed their parts to perfection. Their accents, while distinct, were not overbearing and difficult to understand. The thread of humour that ran throughout gave us moments of relaxation before the stress and frustration of political reality took hold of us, too. Another portrayal of political parties came through with this performance, that of a family. The party members showed their affection and ease with each other whilst also expressing respect and protection towards their leader.

As someone who has no interest in politics of any era, it was going to be difficult to impress me. This play, however, came across as not only intelligent, but also easy for the everyday audience to understand without having an in depth knowledge of the political world. The emotion was understandable and even made me feel sympathetic towards the characters. Overall the experience was highly enjoyable and has left me watching out for other Hare and Headlong Theatre performances.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Come to our Applicant Day on Thursday 26 March

Our Applicant Days will give you first-hand experience of what it's like to study for a degree in English Literature, and English Literature with Creative Writing, with us. Please join us on Thursday 26 March to meet the team and current students, and to take a 'taster' seminar.

You can book online here: Book your place at the Applicant Day.

We look forward to meeting you this Thursday.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Bringing Gloucestershire poetry to Gloucestershire schools: a new DegreePlus opportunity

Bluebells in Dymock Woods, 2014. Photo: HWeeks

Here is an exciting internship opportunity through DegreePlus that will be of especial interest to anyone who loves poetry and is seeking classroom experience.  

The  Dymock Poets were a group of writers and artists (not just poets) who lived in and around the village of Dymock at the beginning of the twentieth century: Edward Thomas, Robert Frost, Lascelles Abercrombie, WW Gibson, and others. I wrote a post about a visit to Dymock for the blog last year.

The Friends of Dymock Poets want to promote awareness of these Gloucestershire poets in local schools and have asked for our help in making it happen. Our University Archives hold an important collection of related material, so we have strong connections to these writers and to their milieu.

You can find out more about the project and how to apply at the DegreePlus webpage:

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

English Society Event: 'King Lear' at the Everyman

The English Society is planning to go and see Shakespeare's King Lear at the Cheltenham Everyman.
Tickets are a bargain at £12 and are the best seats available so this will be a wonderful evening. Please let Beth Norris ( know before 12pm Friday 6th March if you would like to go.

 The performance is on Tuesday 24th March, and starts at 7:45pm. Please be outside the theatre at 7:30pm to receive your tickets. Information on how to pay will be posted shortly on the societies Facebook page, or please feel free to contact Beth Norris ( with any questions.

 Please be aware tickets are non-refundable due to the commitment to the theatre. The Society looks forward to hearing from you soon!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

2nd year student Nicola Riley reports on her visit to the Museum of London exhibition on Sherlock Holmes

The Museum of London: ‘Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die.’

For me, one of the many things that I enjoy about going home for couple of days is checking the ‘Time Out,’ page on the Internet and having a peek at the popular events in London that are occurring during the week. On this occasion, as I had a look on the page The Museum of London’s ‘Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die’ exhibition came to my attention. Also, as I live towards the end of the Central line, it is incredibly easy for me to take a trip into London for the day.

Firstly, before entering the exhibition itself, there was much excitement between my mum and me, due to the entrance being a huge bookcase and the guide of the exhibition requesting for us to find the doorway. When entering, I immediately saw the oil painting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle dated from 1897 that hung upon the wall. From the artist’s portrayal of Conan Doyle, he immediately comes across as a man of intelligence and I thought that the artist’s portrayal of him was particularly interesting as it also offered a look on Victorian portraits.

As we continued to walk around the exhibition, the more and more knowledge we gained from the character of Sherlock Holmes that we had not known before. There was a great use of mixed media on display, from manuscripts to illustrations; to short clips of Sherlock Holmes’ television series and films that have been produced from different times; as well as, audio clips from the stories in the background. By the Museum of London’s wide range of material, it created a huge curiosity for me as it enabled me to understand the great impact that Conan Doyle’s character, Sherlock Holmes, had upon society and the long line of films adaptations and television series that have been produced as well as how the figure of Sherlock Holmes has transcended over time.

I also appreciated that there was not only the opportunity to view the excellent handwriting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original manuscripts, but to also have the chance to glance upon the first credited detective fiction short story of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue.’ It is known that Conan Doyle was an admirer of Poe’s work and of his creation of the brilliantly analytical detective of Monsieur C. Dupin. Due to currently studying Conan Doyle’s ‘Hound of the Baskervilles,’ and Poe’s ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ in my Crime fiction module with Charlotte Beyer, I found that aspect of exhibition most engaging, as well as, having the chance to compare their markedly different handwriting which I found most intriguing.

Playing on the wall besides such manuscripts, there was a filmed interview with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from 1927 describing the growth of his creation, Sherlock Holmes, and the response he had received from female fans that considered Sherlock Holmes to be real. One reaction that I found particularly humorous was that a woman wrote to him claiming that she would love to be Sherlock’s maid and that she had a great hobby of bee keeping, as bee keeping had recently appeared in one of Conan Doyle’s short stories at the time.

One of the rooms that I found particularly interesting to explore was a collection of paintings of London by a variety of artists, as it is known that London held a central role within Conan Doyle’s stories. The Museum displayed Victorian London through many illustrative and historical elements; my two personal favourites were an etching of London from a bird’s eye view as seen from a hot air balloon in 1884 which men had to take shifts to complete over a period of months to Claude Monet’s painting ‘Pont de Londres,’ capturing the thick fog of Victorian London in 1902.

Continuing on from this section of the exhibition, there were many props and costumes on display; including the Belstaff coat and blue scarf that is used in BBC’s Sherlock series, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. As well as, forensic kits, photographs, typewriters, and many other props used in other television and film adaptations.

I personally believe that the exhibition as a whole was appealing for not only fans of Conan Doyle’s literary works, but as well as, for people that have an interest with the Benedict Cumberbatch television series, the many film adaptations of Sherlock Holmes and also the fascinating history of London. Furthermore, if you go to visit the Museum of London, you are certainly in for a treat as it is a short walk to St. Paul’s Cathedral or you can also cross over the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern or the Globe Theatre after your visit to the Museum.

£12.55 (£11.45 without donation)
£10.45 (£9.45 without donation)