Emerging Research in English


Yesterday we had our first ever event jointly organised by the ‘Language & Communication’ and ‘Promotional Cultures’ research clusters.


Our PhD candidates talked about aspects of their ever evolving research projects. These are the titles of the presentations:

  • Salim Bouherar:  “Idiom teaching and understanding: A first language or imperial culture?”
  • Narmina Fataliyeva: “Linguistic and extra linguistic factors regulating the synonym choice in political discourse”
  • Benoît Leclercq (pictured above): “Understanding the concept of semantics in relevance theory”
  • Tatjana Milosavljevic: ”Neoliberal Britain in Black British cultural production of the 1980s”
  • Kyu Hyun Park: “Speech production in intercultural communication”
  • Ramona Pistol: “Metaphor and metarepresentation’

We could have kept discussing the projects for hours, but unfortunately had to leave the room at 5pm, as it was booked for another event. Undeterred, we continued the conversation at the beautifully decorated Atrium of the College Building.



Thinking About English


Our BA English programme at Middlesex takes a broad and inclusive view of English, encompassing all of the very wide range of activities which have been thoughts of as part of the subject and not assuming sharp boundaries within or at the edge of English.

There are several different things which helped to encourage us in this direction. For me, it began in discussion with students who seemed more open to this inclusive approach. Some of them approached me and asked why our programme didn’t seem to have much ‘lang-lit’ work (‘like we did at school’).

Thinking about this led to work exploring the current situation at school and at university with Andrea Macrae and Marcello Giovanelli. We worked on two research projects funded by the Higher Education Academy. These involved discussion with staff and students at schools and in universities, a workshop at Middlesex exploring these topics, and we produced two reports based on this (available via the Integrating English site).

Andrea, Marcello and I then set up the Integrating English project, which aims to promote this broad, inclusive view of English, and to help teachers and students at school by providing access to research ideas and other resources. We organise conferences for teachers (the fourth conference takes place at Middlesex on the 11th of November, the day before we host the National Association for the Teaching of English post-16 conference). We also run a website for the AQA awarding body called The Definite Article, where we publish digests of research papers and other resources.

This academic year is a very exciting one for us as we have launched our new degree which reflects this thinking about English. It’s very early to judge things but we have had a great time working with our new students so far and we’re looking forward to exploring ideas about English with them.

We’ll post more thoughts and resources on our thinking about English here, including some from events where we discuss this (Andrea, Marcello and I have been invited to give three presentations on our view of English this year). To start with, here are the slides from the presentation I gave at the Futures for English Studies seminar at the Open University in September:

Billy’s presentation at Futures for English Studies, Open University, September 2016

We’d love to carry on the discussion here so please comment or get in touch if you’d like to join in.




Integrating English Conference 2016


We are very excited about our forthcoming (FREE!) Integrating English conference for English teachers which be taking place at Middlesex University on the 11th of November. It will be immediately followed on the 12th by the NATE (National Association for the Teaching of English) post-16 conference which we are also hosting at Middlesex.

This will be our fourth annual Integrating English conference. It will be a one-day event with a mix of talks and interactive workshops, led by HE academics and teachers, designed to offer support for teachers and provide new tools and techniques for studying English.

These events have been very successful with teachers in the past and we have received very positive feedback on previous events. You can see some feedback from last year’s conference in Oxford on the Integrating English events page 

You can find more information on this year’s conference, and a booking form, at the Integrating English Conference 2016 page

Meanwhile, here are some of our speakers:

(Andrea Macrae, Marcello Giovanelli, Billy Clark, Nigel McLoughlin, Marina Lambrou)

We are very grateful for support from our sponsors which makes it possible to offer this event for free:

Middlesex University School of Media and Performing Arts

Poetics and Linguistics Association

Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press have kindly donated copies of their A/AS Level English Language and Literature for AQA Student Book (Cambridge University Press, 2015) for us to offer to early bookers (just two or three left at time of writing)

If you’re an English teacher, fill in the booking form on the Integrating English Conference 2016 page and come along.

If you know any English teachers, spread the word!

We’re looking forward to  another fun and productive day exploring ideas for teaching English


Futures for English Studies


We’re  looking forward to meeting our new first year BA English students tomorrow. We’ll be posting thoughts here from our work together on the BA English programme, things we have discussed in class, and anything relevant to the programme.

Last week, I went to a very enjoyable and interesting event at the Open University. It was an event to celebrate the publication of the book Futures for English Studies edited by Ann Hewings, Lynda Prescott and Philip Seargeant, all of whom work at the Open University.

It’s an excellent collection, exploring a range of ideas about the past, present and future of English, and there was lots of interesting discussion at the event.

I spoke there about our view of English as a broad and inclusive subject, covering work on language, literature and writing (and other things, including a wide range of genres and types of texts).

Andrew Cowan, Head of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, spoke about the rise of creative writing in the US and the UK, about differing views of the connections between writing and other subjects (particularly literary studies), and about differing views of the relationships between creative and critical work.

Matt Hayler, from the University of Birmingham, spoke about ‘digital humanities’ and about ‘digital cultures’, exploring different ways of thinking about each and future research directions.

These were followed by a roundtable discussion with a large number of speakers.

I was asked some very good questions after my talk, including some useful thoughts about our BA English programme.

Lots of interesting and useful points were made in the discussion and they suggested lots to think about with regard to the nature of English, how subjects interact in general, how communicative (including reading and writing) practices are changing, and lots more.

Two things which I thought were particularly interesting were that it provided evidence for two things I have been thinking for a while now:

  • that there is lots of positivity about English at the moment, confirming my view that this is an exciting time for the subject and a great time to be studying English
  • that there is a growing interest in seeing English as a broad and inclusive subject (and less interest in establishing boundaries)

I’m delighted to see more evidence for both of these!