The University of Gloucestershire is proud to sponsor this year’s prestigious Cheltenham Poetry Festival. There is so much for everyone. The Festival kicks off on Wednesday 18 April at 8:00pm at the Bottle of Sauce and The Railway with Barroom Bards, an evening of crapulent poetry presided over by the gods of wine and Dr Mike Johnstone, not necessarily in that order. Read all about this year’s events over at the Creative Writing blog.
The full festival programme is here.
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!
The Laura Brereton Prize is awarded annually to an English Literature student who made an outstanding contribution to the course. Loz Apperley, BA Hons English Literature and Creative Writing (Class of 2017), is this year’s recipient. Dr Paul Innes presented Loz with the prize at the School of Liberal and Performing Arts’s Graduation tea and prizegiving in the Chapel, Francis Close Hall. Many congratulations, Loz; we’re extremely proud of you.
Dr Debby Thacker organised a special careers event last week that brought current Humanities students and graduates together to talk about careers. Bethany Norris, third-year English Literature student and President of the UoGlos English Literature Society, reports.
Thanks to Debby Thacker (who I’m sure we’re already missing!), a supper was arranged where past students came and talked to current students about their careers and how they got to be there. All the guest speakers had something unique to offer us.
Alex Beresford, an ITV weatherman and who is also currently on Channel Four’s Britain’s Most Extreme Weather, spoke first and told us how he broke into media. What stood out most was that he never gave up, despite that industry being so hard to get into. He believed that he could do it, and although it wasn’t a straightforward path to where he is now, he got there with hard work and determination. He wasn’t afraid to ask for opportunities or jobs. After all, how can a potential employer consider you if you don’t let them know you want to be considered?
In fact, that was something that everyone said. They couldn’t put enough emphasis on asking potential employers for internships, work experience or positions that you would like. As many of us already know work experience is really important for making applications, building a CV and making sure that’s the career path that you want to go down. Many of the alumni were proof of this; some had graduate level jobs from completing work experience or internships with their current employers. They also said the contacts they made through other placements helped them further their careers as well.
Further study was also discussed as many humanities students will go on to do a MA, PGCE or even a PhD. Although post-graduate study is mainly self-funded there are loans, grants and bursaries available depending on where you go and what you do.
The main message I got from talking to the alumni is that it’s all right to not know exactly what you’re going to do after education, and that it’s ok to change your mind. You just have to do what makes you happy.
Dr Debby Thacker with ITV broadcaster Alex Beresford. Dr Beresford holds a BA Hons in English Literature and an honorary doctorate from the University of Gloucestershire. More pictures in our Flickr gallery.