Alchemy: A Creative Experiment is at the Wilson Gallery, Cheltenham, TONIGHT

Sound and words bridge Shakespeare’s world with our own. A stand-up comedian suffers an existential experience. Pictures are installed and some may move. A film called The Battle of Five Spices is shown. It can only be Alchemy: A Creative Experiment. Humanities and Media students take over the Wilson Gallery from 7:30 (not 7:00) TONIGHT. FREE. Book your place by clicking here.

Come and meet us at our Open Day on Saturday 3 October

Are you thinking of studying with us? Come and meet us this Saturday at our Open Day at Francis Close Hall and find out more about the English Literature BA Hons course, the School of Humanities, the staff and student life.  You can opt for a degree in English Literature alone, or combine your literary study with Creative Writing, History, or Language. Take a tour around our campus and Library, talk to Student Ambassadors, and get a sense of our academic community. Teams from Student Finance and Accommodation will be there to answer your questions.

Francis Close Hall is a five-minute walk from Cheltenham town centre, and on Saturday, the international Cheltenham Literature Festival will be underway – one of the highlights of the autumn term.  Plan on a visit to town and see how many writers, broadcasters and journalists you can spot on the walk between Imperial Gardens and Montpellier Promenade.

You can book your place by clicking on this link. We’re looking forward to meeting you.

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Heather Cobby wrote her Master’s thesis on Edward Thomas’s prose work and other unpublished writings, and is also a member of the Edward Thomas Fellowship.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.

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.

Announcing the Humanities Student Research Conference, 8 June 2015: Call for Contributions

Monday 8 June 2015, 11:00 – 3:00
Park Campus TC013

Call for Presentations/Contributions

Humanities undergraduates on HM5000 are invited to be a part of this special conference celebrating University research.

We’re looking for some students to present their work (10 mins plus discussion) to an audience of fellow students and other researchers. If you created a PowerPoint presentation for the HM5000 class, you have nothing more to prepare.

We’d also love you to create a poster presentation, or digital stories, to be displayed in the conference room on the subject of your research topic. We’ll have prizes for the presenters.
Finally, if you don’t want to present, we would love to have your help running the conference: introducing speakers, welcoming guests, helping with the display.

There’ll be a vegetarian buffet lunch.

To get involved, please contact Dr Hilary Weeks

Acclaimed nature writer, broadcaster Tim Dee to speak at the University of Gloucestershire

The School of Humanities is proud to host Tim Dee, the acclaimed nature writer, naturalist, BBC radio producer and broadcaster, at our latest Humanities Public Lecture on Thursday 19 February. Tim Dee works at the intersection between language and the natural world. His first book, The Running Sky (2009), meditates on a year’s birdwatching. The poet Kathleen Jamie credits Dee for sensitising her ear to the natural world, and remarks that ‘an outing with him is a lesson in listening; several poets owe what listening skills we have to Dee’s tuition’. *  Four Fields (2013) reconfigures the field study as fields (of) study – of landscape, nature and cultural study – in Montana, Ukraine, Zambia and the Fens.

Tim Dee’s lecture on Thursday evening, ‘Atlantic Seaboard and Lodgings: Spring Seeking at the Edge of an Ocean’ explores a new project: a personal and poetic response to Spring. We hope very much you’ll join us for this special event. We’d like in particular to extend a warm welcome to our Applicant Day visitors who will have met us in the afternoon; please stay for the lecture and join us for a remarkable evening.

Book your place through the University’s Online Store, here.

Humanities Public Lecture: Tim Dee

Thursday 19 February
Francis Close Hall, UoG

7:30pm, TC001

Everyone is welcome

*Kathleen Jamie, review of Four FieldsGuardian, 24 August 2013.

Take a trip around the fabulous Everyman Theatre next Wednesday!

During Activity Week, on October 8 we are going to have a guided tour around the fabulous Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. For an hour, you’ll have a VIP view behind the scenes of one of the country’s oldest rep theatres. You’ll be taken around the theatre, backstage, under the stage, above the stage; see the costumes and props, and find out about the theatre’s history (and current  productions).
If you are going to the performance of She Stoops to Conquer on the evening of Thursday 9 October, this tour around the Everyman is an absolute must.  And it’s on us – there’s no charge.
The tour runs on Wednesday 8 October from 2:00 – 3:00pm. We’ll gather in front of the CEAL building at 1:30 and walk over. Please email me on if you want to go.

University Induction Week begins on Monday

Freshers are already beginning to arrive at the University. On Monday morning we meet our new students, our colleagues in learning. It is an exciting and anxious time all round. Will students feel at home? Will our lectures be ready for the first week of classes? Will it rain?

You may think that we are just arriving back ourselves after a long summer recess – on the contrary – but despite the hard work, September always energises us. For students, Induction week marks the beginning of three years of study in a new home town; for staff, the beginning of a productive, creative partnership.  There’s a nice article in The Guardian that offers the staff perspective on Freshers’ week.

Have a great weekend. We’ll see you on Monday morning.

Growing Humanities: Professor Shelley Saguaro’s Inaugural Lecture

Dr Martin Randall reports on Professor Shelley Saguaro’s Inaugural Lecture

Professor Shelley Saguaro’s Inaugural Lecture was hugely successful in bridging the gap between the personal and the scholarly. Indeed, her memories of her academic life were also something of a plotted (no pun intended) history of the Humanities at the University of Gloucestershire. The lecture also provided the audience with a Feminist reading of a number of women writers whose work has influenced Shelley over the years and these careful literary analyses reminded the audience of the absolute centrality of Humanities critical thinking. And finally, Shelley offered a persuasive and illuminating discussion on the deep, and surprising, connections between plants and politics.

You can watch a podcast of Shelley’s lecture here: