Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Come and visit us on an Open Day, 27 and 30 June

Are you thinking of studying English Literature at the University of Gloucestershire? Then come and meet us on one of our Open Days:
  • Saturday, 27 June 2015 
  • Tuesday, 30 June 2015 
  • Saturday, 03 October 2015 
  • Saturday, 31 October 2015 
  • Saturday, 21 November 2015
Book your place here: Undergraduate Open Days at UGlos

Our students love their course.  They tell us that our teaching inspires them and that we support active, individual learning (97% on this year's National Student Survey).

We offer a wealth of chances for students to develop interests beyond the classroom. This year, we've enjoyed field trips to see the internationally-acclaimed William Blake exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and to Lacock Abbey, as well as a guided tour of Pre-Raphaelite paintings at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. As drama lovers, we go to the theatre as often as possible (last year we saw Webster's  The White Devil at the RSC in Stratford-upon Avon) and work closely with Cheltenham's celebrated  Everyman Theatre.  Cheltenham is home to the international  Literature Festival  and our English Literature and Creative Writing courses take centre stage, with hundreds of free tickets for students, plus workshops, talks and activities, and matchless volunteering and working opportunities. We also have close ties to the celebrated  Wychwood Festival.  

Our students are at the heart of what we do. The student - run English Literature Society arranges trips, social events, and talks. Scroll down the blog archive to read reviews and articles contributed by our undergraduate writers, and take a look at our Flickr gallery.

We're looking forward to seeing you. Don't forget to book your place: Open Days at UGlos.

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Scholarly Research Project Edition

It has been a delight to edit this compilation of student essays which showcases the enthusiasm, energy and passion for research which is a hallmark of English Literature students at the University of Gloucestershire.

'HM5000: The Scholarly Research Project' ran for the first time in 2013-2014, focusing on the transformative nature of research. A key part of the research process is sharing your finding with others. Students were keen that they, too, should have the opportunity to publish their own research once the module was completed. So it was agreed that the best twelve essays would be selected for an in-house publication. In typical academic fashion this has been rather protracted, but this in itself, has given students an insight into the realities of academic research!

The essays in the bound volume (pictured) are an example of the excellent research skills of the second year English Literature cohort from 2013-2014 - now about to graduate! They display the students' interest in a remarkable range of writers and of genres, spanning Lewis Carroll to Charles Bukowski, and Fairy Tale to Absurdist Theatre. Most of all, these Scholarly Research Projects reveal the lively minds and commitment to learning of their undergraduate authors which is such a joy to witness and remains a privilege to teach.

I look forward to seeing the edited volume from HM5000 2014-2015 - the papers presented at the HM5000 conference were super. Now, your readers await!

Photo: Dr Rebecca Bailey

Monday, 15 June 2015

Edward Thomas and Gloucestershire: Heather Cobby MA reports on the May Hill celebrations

The School of Humanities has been celebrating its long-standing connections with the Dymock Poets. The University  Special Collections and Archives houses the Gloucestershire Poets, Writers and Artists Collection, and in June the School joined forces with the Edward Thomas Fellowship and Friends of Dymock Poets for a weekend conference, reported in the local press. Dr Debby Thacker (Senior Lecturer emerita, English Literature) gave a paper on how the Dymock poets allowed expression of the child's voice in their work.

Heather Cobby wrote her Master's thesis on Edward Thomas's prose work and other unpublished writings, and is also a member of the Edward Thomas Fellowship. She reports on the recent  festivities held at May Hill in Thomas's honour, exclusively for the English Literature blog. Heather's report captures the sense of place and community that inspired Thomas. The beautiful  illustration was contributed by pupils at Huntley Junior School.

May Hill village hall was the bustling centre for a day of celebration on Saturday June 13th . People from several counties joined the locals to enjoy all things `arty`,  `crafty` and poetic, which had been inspired by or produced on May Hill and its immediate surroundings.

The idea for the day was conceived by The National Trust as one of their `spirit of place` events, and sprang from the fact that Edward Thomas started to write his important poem `Words` while sitting on the slopes of the hill. Thomas was on a cycling tour from Gloucester to Coventry and had cycled to May Hill with his friend, local solicitor and botanist, John (`Jack`) Haines.   

The day`s events included two guided walks led by National Trust rangers and, at appropriate stops, poems and readings inspired by the hill were read. Some of these were written in the early twentieth century by the local group of `Dymock Poets`, but there were also more modern ones by the walkers themselves. The rangers were on hand to explain their management of the hill and to point out birds and flowers of interest as well as to answer any questions. Unfortunately nearly all the poems and readings referred to the normally wide-ranging views from the hill, which were completely obliterated by fog and drizzle. Nevertheless, the walkers were undeterred and professed to enjoy the `spiritual` atmosphere as we climbed the hill. There had also been a poetry competition for poems inspired by the hill for which first, second and third winners of National Trust vouchers were announced in the hall at lunch time.

For those not walking, there was plenty to occupy them in the village hall. Local schools were showing their pupils` amazing colourful and very professional artwork that had been inspired by the hill. Tall pines displayed themselves next to bushy hawthorns and there were imaginative views of the whole hill, even including a road at the bottom. At the entrance to the hall the side of a large awning had been used for anyone coming or going to add their artistic ideas to a huge wall painting depicting animals, birds and flowers associated with the village and the hill. Refreshments were available in the form of Fairtrade tea and coffee, a May Hill Ploughman`s lunch and a wonderful assortment of cakes made by a local catering company.

Stalls in the hall included jewellery, curtain pulls and key rings made out of local wood and snoods, hats, jumpers and other clothing made from wool from sheep farmed on May Hill. Beautiful cards and pictures of May Hill in a variety of materials abounded and one local artist was selling self-illustrated books of her own poetry inspired by the landscape and nature of the hill. Another local artist`s own illustrations decorated a book of some of Edward Thomas`s poems. To add to the celebratory atmosphere, a local folk couple were playing their own suitably rustic music.  The whole day reflected the wide variety of excellent local talent produced by our wonderful May Hill.

Edward Thomas, undated photo.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

We salute our undergraduate research students

On Monday 8 June, a group of very bright students helped to put undergraduate research under the spotlight at the Humanities Student Research Conference. This event was part of the University of Gloucestershire’s annual Celebration of Research and the Festival Fortnight.

The conference brought together the work of level 5 and level 6 scholars. Bethany Norris (English Literature) presented her work on Jane Austen and modes of Gothic and anti-Gothic. Drawing on contemporary notices of Austen’s novels, Bethany demonstrated Austen’s engagement with contemporary politics and satire.  Niall Gallen (English Literature and Creative Writing) spoke on J.G. Ballard’s interventions into ‘reality’ and representation in The Atrocity Exhibition. Niall’s presentation combined the verbal with the visual, demonstrating postmodern nightmares (or perhaps daydreams) of ‘conceptual’ reality, cut asunder from accepted norms of seeing and responding to disaster, particularly when they are mediated through TV images.

The diversity of research undertaken in the Humanities at undergraduate level was amazing. Historians Grace Cooper and Matt Saffery produced a teaching booklet of Horrible Early Modern History, and led a discussion about how the concept of ‘childhood’ is always determined historically and culturally. Alice Kerks (Theology and Religious Studies) developed a set of Christian aesthetics from her reading of the Harry Potter novels, combining theology with literary criticism. Jack Miles (History) used postcolonial formulations of the Other as a lens through which to critique how Cornwall and Cornish history and culture are experienced and represented, particularly in tourism.

Medieval children were really horrid.

Niall Gallen and Bethany Norris.

Alice Kerks.

Two Dissertation students gave fascinating presentations that also helped level 5 students to see what kind of work they would undertake next year. Jordan Spencer (History) discussed his research project on JFK’s legacy, and sparked off a conversation that could have gone on into the evening.  Evan Lewis (English Language) gave a witty and sage presentation on the dissertation journey, illustrated by pictures of vertical mountain ascents and bricked-up cul-de-sacs, but which in his case led to a rich project on the linguistics of sustainability, ‘The Dark Mountain’.

There was more: we ran a short panel on student societies, with Bethany and Niall speaking on the activities of the recently-founded English Literature Society, while Erika Mellor and Rachael Colmer spoke about the flourishing History Society. Dr Dave Webster gave a droll but typically thoughtful talk about the School’s annual field trip to Cordoba, with many incriminating photos.

Finally, we were delighted to present the fruits of last year’s research to some students whose work has been published in a special volume, edited by Dr Rebecca Bailey. Our special thanks go to Rebecca for this effort (and watch this space for a report). We’d like to make these beautiful publications an annual event – and the Conference will be back next year.

The Conference was funded by the School of Humanities. We thank Dr Debby Thacker (English Literature), whose successful bid provided the money to support student development.  Our biggest thanks go to the presenters and delegates, and we’re grateful to those who would have liked to have contributed but could not. We've signed you up for next year’s event.

The programme is here; click for more photos.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Humanities Student Research Conference

We're excited to announce that the Humanities Student Research Conference takes place next Monday 8 July, at Park TC013, from 11:00- 3:00. Students who have pursued research on Humanities modules and beyond will present their findings to a wider audience.  When we say that projects will range from Faust to Harry Potter, from horrible children's history to postmodern dystopias, taking in Jane Austen and the Cornish landscape along the way, you'll know that there is going to be plenty to talk about. We are delighted to have this chance to showcase undergraduate research expertise. The Conference is part of the University's Celebration of Research and the Festival Fortnight.

Please join us for this superb conference, which includes a veggie buffet lunch. No booking is necessary. Everyone is welcome.

The complete programme can be seen here.