Goodbye 2015-16: Humanities round-up

The new academic year is not far away. Meanwhile, in the quiet of August we can look back at a very, very busy period from May to July.  First, our Back to the Future alumni supper brought together successful alumni and current students. The English Literature and Creative Writing courses had a high profile at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival Professor John Hughes and Dr Paul Innes spoke (respectively) to the public on the songs of Dylan and Shakespeare’s history plays.
Next up, the School of Humanities contributed three major events to the University Festival. Creative Writers rioted (as usual) with original work, guest speakers, and a conference dinner, all part of the Creative Writers Riot LINK organised by Lania Knight and students.
On June 8, the schools of Humanities and Media joined forces for their first ever creative collaboration:  Alchemy: a Creative Experiment.  What would happen, we asked ourselves, if an English Literature student got together with a songwriter? An historian with a film-maker? A Creative Writer with a Radio Production student?  The student alchemists who joined the project took the creative risks such a project entails; and we found gold. Members of the public, students and staff gathered at Cheltenham’s Wilson Gallery on June 8 for a gala evening (with champagne).  Ben Cipolla won the Grand prize of £250, but all the alchemists won £50. These artists produced some staggering work, and you’ll be able to find out more about the event in September (there are some photos on the English Literature Flickr gallery). Very special thanks go to Melody Grace, BA Hons English Literature (class of 2016), for reporting and photographing the event.
And the very next morning, the Humanities Student Research Conference presented and celebrated undergraduate research from levels 5 and 6 (photos here). It was truly inspiring to be part of this conference and to hear about work of such high calibre, as you can see from the programme.  My thanks to all the students who took part, with very special thanks, and all good wishes, to our new graduates. 

I wish all new and returning students a fabulous summer. See you in September 2016. 

Second week of the University Festival is Humanities week

The University Festival got under way last week, with loads of events scheduled across the University of Gloucestershire. This week, however, belongs to us.  Alchemy: A Creative Experiment, in which Humanities and Media students join forces, will set the house on fire at our gala champagne event at Cheltenham’s prestigious Wilson Gallery on Wednesday 8 June at 7:30pm. This free public event is for the community too and is being publicised widely across the county’s media. What happens when song, folk music, poetry, film and radio collide? You’ll find out tomorrow evening at the Wilson.

Book your ticket here.

Creative Writers are rioting, as always. Students and staff have put together a stellar event of guest readings and student work in Writers’ Research Riot on Wednesday 8 June.  Alan Bilton, Joanna Campbell and Anna Lewis are three of the writers joining students for a panel discussion at Francis Close Hall at 3:00, and the mayhem moves to the Frog and Fiddle from 8:00pm. Details at the UoG Creative Writing blog.

The Humanities Student Research Conference should also be in your diaries for Thursday 9 June, FCH TC002, 11:00. The programme is being finalised and ranges from the death industry to slow food, J.G. Ballard and Gloucestershire protest.  Delegates will be plied with food and drink and we Humanities people never turn down a chance to argue and debate. 

We rule.

The full University Festival programme is here.

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 Potternovels, 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.

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.