“Four legs badass, two legs wasteman!”: Reimagining Orwell for Austerity Britain

The Language and Communication Research cluster is delighted to announce the presentation by playwright and Middlesex lecturer in Media Narrative James Kenworth on his play ‘Revolution Farm’.

When? Wednesday 24  January 2018, 16.00 – 17.30

Where? Room BG09A (Building 9), Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

Revolution-Farm-5In 2014, James was given special permission by AM heath Agents on behalf of the George Orwell estate to adapt and modernise Orwell’s classic satire, Animal Farm, and give it a fresh, contemporary twist, injecting its timeless tale of a revolution that went wrong with a gritty, urban, ‘in-yer-face’ language.

The play was unique in another respect: it was staged on one of London’s longest established and largest inner city farms: Newham City Farm, home to a large collection of farmyard favourites such as cows, horses and sheep.

In this presentation, James will explore the process/methodology of adapting a literary classic with a contemporary spin, with special emphasis on a creative and expressive approach to playwriting language/dialogue. The paper will also address the challenges of setting the play on an inner city farm and how the use of non-conventional theatre spaces affects and reconfigures the relationship between a play and audience.

Biography

imageJames Kenworth is a Playwright and a Lecturer in Media Narrative at Middlesex University. His writing include ‘verse-prose’ plays Johnny Song, Gob; black comedy Polar Bears; issue-led plays Everybody’s World (Elder Abuse), Dementia’s Journey (Dementia); plays for young people/schools The Last Story in the World; and a Newham-based trilogy of site-specific plays, When Chaplin Met Gandhi, Revolution Farm and A Splotch of Red: Keir Hardie in West Ham.

His play, Dementia’s Journey, won the 2015 University of Stirling International Dementia Award in the category: Dementia & the Arts. When Chaplin Met Gandhi and Revolution Farm is published by TSL Publications. A Splotch of Red has recently been published in a collection of political plays by Workable Press, a new publishing imprint dedicated to trade unions and organised workers.

He has extensive experience of planning, preparing and teaching playwriting and creative writing programmes/workshops for a wide variety of age groups and learners including children, young people, students and adult learners. He has worked on a regular basis on the delivery of these programmes with leading arts and educational organisations such as Spread The Word, Cardboard Citizens, Workers Educational Association University, Newham Adult Learning Service, Newham Libraries, Newham College, Community Links, Soho Theatre, University of East London and Middlesex University.

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

1st Haringey Unchained – Middlesex Meeting

unchained_05We were really excited to welcome at Middlesex the twelve enthusiastic and motivated Haringey Sixth Form College students, with their inspirational teacher, Angie Smith.

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Doing some creative writing critique

Four of our BA English students will work with the Haringey students to edit a literary magazine, ‘Haringey Unchained’: a platform for high-quality original creative work in various forms: prose, poetry, illustration and photography.

In addition to the magazine, a larger collection of submissions can be found online at https://haringeyunchained.wordpress.com/.

So, if you are into writing, illustration, photography and would like your work to be considered for the ‘Haringey Unchained’ magazine and blog and reach a wide audience, please contact our four Middlesex students coordinating the project for more information:

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Our first Middlesex – Haringey group photo

 

Visit to the British Library

Last week many of our first year BA English students and tutors had a great study visit at the wonderful British Library.

group pic

Firstly we wandered through the ‘Treasures of The British Library’ exhibition and our students had to find answers to the following questions:

  1. Which author from Humpshire has some teenage writings on display in the library?
  2. Who received a letter from Charles Darwin that’s on display in the library?
  3. Why might that letter have been difficult to receive and read?
  4. Which work on display in the library contains the line ‘I’m not half the man I used to be’?

As our amazing students were equally good; the group that submitted the best photo of themselves in the library were declared winners.

So, this is the winning entry:

British Library photo 011117_1

And these are the runners up:

British Library photo 011117_2   British Library photo 011117_3

 

We ended our visit in a magical way, at the enchantedly busy Harry Potter: A History of Magic’ exhibition.BL-Harry-Potter-624x351-roundel

Rhyme and Reason: “creative criticism” and thinking in verse: video recording

If you’ve missed the a talk and poetry reading by poet, philosopher and literary critic Christopher Norris, that took place on October 18th, fear not!

Chris discussed his shift from a philosopher and literary critic to a poet. He introduced and read a number of his philosophical villanelles and also (my favourite) a satirical one about George Osborne.

We have videorecorded this very well-attended and fascinating session.

Here is a teaser:

 

 

And here’s the full session:

 

(next time I’ll try not to sit right in front of the camera)

Language innovation and language change: taking the longer view

We are absolutely delighted to welcome the internationally renowned sociolinguist and Professor at Queen Mary University of London, Jenny Cheshire, for a presentation on new youth language in London and Paris.

When? Wednesday 6 December 2017, 16.00 – 17.30

Where? Room BG09A (Building 9), Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

Recent patterns of immigration have had different linguistic outcomes in the cities of Europe. In this talk Jenny considers two such different outcomes. ‘Multicultural London English’ (MLE) is a variable repertoire of core innovative forms of English (including, for example, a new pronoun (it’s her personality man’s looking at) and a new quotative (this is me “why you doing that for?”) heard in many multilingual areas of London. For many speakers MLE is the usual vernacular style of speaking, while for others it is a style that they adopt from time to time in order to sound ‘street cool’. Monolingual young Londoners as well as their bilingual friends all use the innovations, though their use is spearheaded by the bilingual speakers. Our research in multilingual areas of Paris replicated the London research but, in contrast to London, found very few linguistic innovations.

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In this talk Jenny will consider why young people in multilingual areas of Paris are less linguistically innovative than young people in similar areas of London. She will argue that, in general, increased mobility increases linguistic variation and linguistic change, but the extent to which the variation is innovative is determined by what Dell Hymes termed ‘the longer view’: the political, social and cultural context. Nonetheless, looking at the interactions of individual speakers in both London and Paris shows that young people use linguistic variation to accomplish similar interactional and interpersonal goals, whatever the larger scale sociocultural and political context.

Biography

Jenny Cheshire is Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary, University of London. She Jenny-Cheshireworks on different aspects of language variation and change. She has received numerous research awards recognising her significant contributions to the field of sociolinguistics, including Multicultural London English. Her recent projects have analysed language innovation in multicultural London, and language change in multicultural Paris, especially syntactic and discourse-pragmatic change. She is also interested in developing educational resources for studying language variation and change. She has written over ten books and 90 articles in peer-reviewed international research journals and edited collections. For a list of selected publications, see http://jennycheshire.com/publications. Jenny is currently editor-in-chief of the journal Language in Society and a Fellow of the British Academy.

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

Languaging: Just another description of semiosis?

The Language and Communication Research cluster is delighted to welcome Professor Stephen Cowley (University of Southern Denmark) for a presentation on language and semiosis.

When? Wednesday 15 November 2017, 16.00 – 17.30

Where? W147 (Williams building), Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

Contemporary humans carry the mark of Cain or, alternatively, bear responsibility for (most) earthly life.  Should we shoulder this burden?  In striving to understand the question, Stephen Cowley turns to what the folk call ‘language’ and, in so doing, contrast views that begin with semiosis and languaging respectively.

Leaving metaphysics aside, language is seen as both human and semiotic (see, Cowley, 2011; 2017; Love, 2017). Pursuing parallels/contrasts between semiotic and radical ecolinguistic views, Cowley turns to language-activity. Using canonical examples, he shows how the fields differentiate between humans and other social mammals. Specifically, while humans can be seen as a symbolic species (e.g. Deacon, 1997), they can also be seen as ecologically constituted (e.g. Ross, 2007). On the latter view, far from being symbolic, languaging enacts embodied cultural activity.  On this deflationary view, the symbolic is, above all, a mode of description.

Humanness draws on nothing fancy but is, rather, rooted in coming to hear utterance-acts as repeatables (den Herik, 2017). Later, using mimesis (Donald, 1991), collectives make up new kinds of understanding and responsibility. Just as people come to take a stance to languaging, they learn to see pictures or marks as signs.  It is concluded that earthly responsibilities are, as Ross suggests, ecologically constituted.

 

Stephen Cowley

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Stephen Cowley is Professor of Organisational Cognition at the University of Southern Denmark (Slagelse Campus). Having completed a PhD entitled “The Place of Prosody in Conversations”, he moved from the UK to post-liberation South Africa and shifted his academic focus to Cognitive Science. In empirical work, he has examined prosodic, kinematic and verbal interactions within families, between mothers and infants, with robots, in medical simulations and in the practice of peer-review. Tracing intelligent activity to agent-environment interactions gives new insight on language, problem finding, decision making and how temporal ranging serves people, groups and organisations. He coordinates the Distributed Language Group, a community that aim to refocus the language sciences on the directed, dialogical activity that grants human life a collective dimension. His papers span many areas and, recently, he has edited or co-edited volumes entitled: Distributed Language (2011, Benjamins) Cognition Beyond the Brain: Computation, Interactivity and Human Artifice (2017, Springer, 2nd Edn) and Biosemiotic Perspectives on Language and Linguistics (2015, Springer).

References

Cowley , S.J. (2011) Distributed Language. Benjamins: Amsterdam.

Cowley, S.J: (2017). Changing the idea of language: Nigel Love’s perspective. Language Sciences, 61: 43-55.

Deacon, T. (1997). The Symbolic Species; Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Donald, M. (1991). Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Herik, J. C. van den (2017). Linguistic know-how and the orders of language. Language Sciences, 61, 17-27.

Love, N. (2017). On languaging and languages. Language Sciences, 61: 113-147.

Ross, D. (2007). H. sapiens as ecologically special: what does language contribute? Language Sciences, 29: 710-731.

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

 

Dialect and Heritage – project to update the historic ‘Survey of English Dialects’ (SED)

We talked in class about the ‘Survey of English Dialects’ (SED). There are some exciting news about a new dialect project to update this most comprehensive survey of dialects in England and open its records to the public. The project has just received a £798,000 National Lottery to continue the work of the Survey of English Dialects, under the direction of Dr Fiona Douglas, University of Leeds.

This story has been picked up by a number of newspapers in the past few days (thank you to Dr Maggie Scott for pointing it out) including:

Happy reading!