A Happy New Year to all our students. Opportunities ahead….

Happy New Year, and welcome back. We hope that you had a great and restorative Christmas break, trust you are rested and ready for semester two.

Next week is Future Plan Week (23 – 27 January) and there are so many opportunities to develop skills, find some new ones, and be inspired. Thirty-four events are scheduled. Here are just a few to whet your appetite:

Log in through the Future Plan Portal for full details.  Follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/futureplan.glos.ac.uk.

More news: the call for Student Ambassadors has gone out this week. Student Ambassadors play an essential role in University life, assisting at events, representing their courses at Open Days by talking to prospective students and their parents, and much more. It’s a rewarding job for current students, not only financially (you can earn up to £9.38 an hour), but more importantly in terms of the skills and experience that you’ll gain to help your future career, and which count towards your Gloucestershire Employability Award.

The role is suitable for students in levels 4-5. If you want to apply, or just want to learn more, go to the Future Plan Portal.

Graduation Day

The Class of 2016 English Language and Linguistics students graduated on the 24th of November at the Cheltenham Racecourse. Despite the cold, everyone was very excited to be there. Hats flew into the air, and people caught up with each other’s news. Congratulations to Shannon O’Connor-Churchill on being awarded the English Language prize!20161124_124958

Weather-world

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Arran Stibbe has published a teaching ‘story’, Living in the Weather-World: reconnection as a path to sustainability, as part of a European Union funded Erasmus+ programme. The story uses ecolinguistics, ecocriticism, photography and embodied experience to encourage students to reconnect with the natural world around them. A third year English Language student, Jessica Iubini-Hampton, co-authored an Italian version of the story, and it will also be translated into Turkish and Slovenian. It can be downloaded here: https://intheweatherworld.wordpress.com/publications

 

University Archives and Special Collections celebrates the Dymock Poets on 1 December

The University of Gloucestershire Special Collections and Archives is launching the Dymock Poets Online Catalogue. Several years in preparation, this database makes the Archives Dymock holdings accessible for the first time and is a tremendous research resource. To celebrate, the UoGSCA is hosting an evening of poetry and seasonal goodies. Students will read poems and there’ll be a chance to hear about our longstanding ties with the Dymock Poets.

For more details, click here, or email Louise Hughes, Principal Library Advisor (Archives) at archives@glos.ac.uk

Thursday 1 December
6:00 – 7:30 pm
University Archives
Francis Close Hall (QU024)

Everyone is welcome

EU project in Slovenia

I am back from a research visit to Slovenia as part of a European Union funded project in Environmental Education. The project gives me a chance to apply ecolinguistics to practical teacher training, with the aim of incorporating critical language awareness into environmental education in schools across Europe. It was an inspiring trip, with a chance to visit organic farms and discover traditional Slovenian ways of living. Arran.

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Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate: Yah-Boo!

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).

 

Bob Dylan’s elevation to Nobel Prize winner is something that has been in the wind for a while you can say, since every year his name is mooted as a candidate, a kind of standing reproach for some to the literary elitism of the Nobel committee. However, as so often with Dylan, the actuality of the prize has been divisive, testifying to his continuing power to stoke controversy over the value of what he does: specifically the literary quality, or even literary status, of his work.  On the one hand, poets and writers throng to celebrate the award, and Seamus Perry, Chair of the Oxford English Faculty, makes an enthusiastic claim (with which I find it hard to disagree): that ‘Dylan winning the Nobel was always the thing you thought should happen in a reasonable world but still seemed unimaginable in this one’. On the other hand, the briefest glance at the internet or social media shows how actually how totally unimaginable it appears to so many people in fact that it should have been awarded in this world. Above all, the award has just irritated so many people who appear bamboozled by it, leading novelist Irving Welsh to claim in an oft-repeated tweet, that it was a ‘nostalgia award’ wrenched from ‘senile, gibbering hippies’. 

Continue reading “Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate: Yah-Boo!”

Jonathan Marshall writes some short articles on the origins of place-names

Jonathan published six short articles over the Summer on the etymologies of place-names along the Thames-Severn canal system. The mini-series appeared in ‘The Trow’, the official magazine of the Cotswold Canals Trust.

Anyone interested in the history of the Stroudwater Canal and the Thames and Severn Canal will notice that we have some intriguing place names along the route. Place names are fun to investigate, because they can give us some fairly good clues about the cultural heritage of an area. The study of the origins of words is called etymology, and of course that includes any word, not just place names. Almost every place name carries an older original meaning underneath its modern form, and that meaning would have been clear to people in past times. There is a linguistic richness and diversity behind each one, and sometimes it is difficult to uncover the origin of a particular place name. In England, we have place names with their origins in Old English, Old Danish, Old Norse, Cornish, Norman French, Latin, and ancient Celtic. Many of us may have wondered about the origins of the name of our home town, or of a place that we pass regularly. Modern place names could be seen as ‘linguistic fossils’, as they originated as living units of the language, coined by our distant ancestors to describe such features as their topography, geography, appearance, situation, use, ownership or some other association. Most have, over time, been pronounced differently, shortened, and generally lost the link to their original meaning.

One thing to bear in mind is that English used to sound quite different to what it does now. The consonants and vowels have both changed gradually over time. For example, we used to have a consonant, usually represented in spelling by an ‘h’, in words such as ‘hring’ (ring) and ‘hrafn’ (raven). That consonant was pronounced as a ‘voiceless velar fricative’, like the one in the German word ‘auch’ and in the Scottish pronunciation of the word ‘loch’. It slowly weakened and fell away in words such as ‘through’, ‘thought’, etc. and changed into an ‘f’ sound in ’laugh’, ‘rough’, etc. Our vowels were more like those in German and Dutch. If you imagine a Northern English pronunciation of a e i o u in ‘cast’, ‘best’, ‘seat’, ‘goat’ and ‘cup’, you will not be far off. The low vowel used in the south of England in ‘cup’ did not exist yet. Also, all sounds were pronounced, so we didn’t have for example ‘silent e’ at the end of words.

Upper Framilode

One of the place-names near the north-western end of the canal is Upper Framilode, which has the Celtic river name ‘fram’, meaning ‘fair, fine’, followed by the Old English word ‘gelad’, meaning ‘difficult crossing’. That gives us ‘difficult crossing over the fair river’. One can see how, over many generations, the pronunciation has changed from ‘framgelad’ to the modern one, as the hard ‘g’ softened and then vanished, and as the vowel in the second syllable moved back in the mouth from ‘a’ to ‘o’. The latter mutation is seen elsewhere, in words like ‘lang – long’ and ‘ald – old’, which appear in place names, too.

Guest talk from Prof. Andrew Goatly

 

On Thursday, Andrew Goatly, honorary professor at Lingnan University, gave an invited speech entitled Grammar and the human nature relationship in environmental discourse and poetry for English Language and Linguistics students.

The talk was delivered with passion and clarity; yet also gave a highly technical, linguistic overview, which highlighted role of language in building our somewhat arrogant relationship with the environment, and how we use it to escape agency in the destruction of the world around us.

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Cheltenham Literature Festival 2016 starts today

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.

Facebook site (not affiliated with the University of Gloucestershire).

Image: CLF 2016 brochure.

Social Media Intern

https://futureplan.glos.ac.uk/students/jobs/detail/279589/

Above is the link to an opportunity for students in our School, including one from English Literature. I do hope the link works okay; you should be able to find it on there anyway. Basically, every year we look for someone to help out with our online presence by twetting, tittering or blagging (oh, and taking photos) whenever an event comes up. This can be anything from Open Days to one-off lectures. You get some training, work experience and a tablet.

If you are more up to date with this sort of language than I am, then this might be for you.

Paul