English students recently went to see Pacifists and Protesters at the Parabola Arts Centre. The production brought to life the little-known story of suffragette and anti-war campaigner Alice Wheeldon, who was sent to prison during the First World War on the charge of attempting to assassinate the Prime Minister. Wheeldon’s real crime was sheltering conscientious objectors, and the play showed how the evidence against her was fabricated by a secret agent, leading to some dramatic courtroom scenes in which Alice and her family were brought up against the full legal force of the government of the day. Alice was eventually released after going on hunger strike, but sadly died not long after. The production concluded with a devised piece that combined physical theatre and music with the words of poets, pacifists and protesters.
Students on our third year Modern and Contemporary American Literature module will be speeding into the new semester via an exploration of Jack Kerouac’s classic work of Beat literature On the Road. Legend has it that the author typed the book on a continuous sheet of typewriter paper stuck together so he would not have to pause in the composition of his ‘spontaneous prose’. Here’s an example from the book:
the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live with, mad to talk, made to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…
Here’s a quick look back to 2017, when students on our 19th Century American Literature module had the chance to visit the American Museum near Bath. The texts we’d covered at that point included Native American Literature and short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, so it was great to see some Native American weaving and beadwork, as well as a tavern from Massachusetts that had been reconstructed in the museum’s basement (complete with an open fire and beds to sleep three). There were also some parallels that could be drawn between the museum’s folk art collection and the ‘folk’ aspects of Hawthorne’s short story ‘Young Goodman Brown’ that we’d been studying. In addition to the displays and exhibits relating to the 19th century and earlier, we saw an exhibition of elegant Jazz Age dresses and photographs which was great for those students planning to take our 20th century American literature module next year!
Class of 2017, we salute you. Every one of you made a unique contribution to English at the University of Gloucestershire. We wish you every success for the future. And please stay in touch by joining our Facebook group, following us on Twitter @EnglishGlos, or better yet, come back and visit us.
Students and staff from across the School went to see Aphra Behn’s great Restoration play The Rover at the RSC Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, last Wednesday. Second-year English Literature student Anne Johnston reviews the play below. The photo is courtesy of Aman Atwal, who took some great photos for our gallery. Our thanks to both students.
Photos are reproduced for educational purposes only.
John Hughes is Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature at the University of Gloucestershire, and is the author of Invisible Now: Bob Dylan in the 1960s (Ashgate, 2013).
The 2016 Cheltenham Festival of Literature begins today and runs until October 16. This year’s programme is outstanding. The festival’s theme is ‘America Uncovered’, and speakers include Sarah Churchwell, Reginald D. Hunter and P.J O’Rourke. History students already know that their Course Leader Dr Christian O’Connell is taking part in a session on New Orleans’s music and culture on 12 October. Other highlights include appearances by novelists Ian McEwan, Eimear McBride, Lionel Shriver, Sarah Perry, Etgar Keret, and Val McDermid; travel writers Colin Thubron and Sara Wheeler; poets John Agard and Lemn Sisay; historian Mary Beard; director Oliver Stone; and many panel discussions on international literature, history, music and politics. Over 200 events are scheduled, plus a full programme for children. And that’s just the official business. Cheltenham is a wonderful place to be during festival fortnight. We look forward to a week packed with books, coffee, music, and talk.
New events have been added this week. You can find out what’s on day by day.
Are you planning to go to any events, or are you working as a Festival volunteer? Please send us a review. We’d love to publish your writing on the English Literature blog.
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Image: CLF 2016 brochure.