Video recording of James Kenworth’s talk on Reimagining Orwell for Austerity Britain

If you’ve missed, or you want to watch again the presentation by playwright and Middlesex lecturer in Media Narrative James Kenworth on his play ‘Revolution Farm’, please follow these links:

For the full talk, click here.

For a three-minute outtake, click here.

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The long stories of short tales: genes, languages and the evolution of folk traditions (new date)

The Language and Communication Research cluster is delighted to welcome the acclaimed anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani (Durham University) for a presentation on the long stories of short tales: genes, languages and the evolution of folk traditions.

When? Tuesday 30th January 2018, 16.00 – 17.30

Where? Room CG83 (College building), Middlesex University, Hendon campus

Many fairy tales are believed to be derived from oral folk traditions, some of which exhibit remarkable continuities across cultures. Versions of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood – to take two famous examples – have been recorded in places as diverse as Italy, England, China and Antigua. The question of when and where these so-called “international tale types” originated and how they spread is one that has preoccupied folkorists since the time of the Brothers Grimm. In this talk I will show how some answers can be gleaned by integrating cross-cultural patterns in folktales with data from population genetics and historical linguistics. I will also discuss some of the cultural and psychological properties that might make certain kinds of stories particularly “catchy” and memorable, enabling them to survive the wear-and-tear of oral transmission over so many generations and across such vast distances.

Biography

Jamie Tehrany’s research focuses on how culture evolves as it gets transmitted from person to person and from generation to generation. He is interested in understanding what makes some things catch on, others die out, and how these processes shape patterns of cultural diversity within and across populations. Dr Tehrany was trained in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics (1995 – 1999) and gained a Master’s degree in Human Evolution and Behaviour at University College London (2000). He remained at UCL to study for a PhD in Anthropology (2005), writing his thesis on the transmission of craft traditions in Iranian tribal groups. In 2006 he took up a postdoctoral research fellowship at the AHRC Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity (CECD) at University College London, before joining Durham in 2007 as a RCUK Fellow, where he was appointed as a Lecturer in Anthropology in 2012, and then Senior Lecturer in 2014. His current work focuses mainly on the transmission of popular narratives, such as traditional folktales, urban legends and modern day conspiracy theories.

This presentation was originally planned for last November but had to be rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances.

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.

For a full list of all 2018 seminars, click here.

“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 C136 (College Building), Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

*Please note change in room number*

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.

Click here to see all 2018 Language & Communication research seminars.

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

 

Welcome 2017/18

We are getting really excited about the new academic year at Middlesex. We even have a week’s worth of welcome activities for our 2017-18 BA English cohort.

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For the film Screening on Thursday, September 28th, we are thinking of screening Ruby Sparks:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1839492/

It has literary references and explores lots of ideas relevant to work in English, e.g. about adaptation (without itself being an adaptation), creativity, and interpretation. Some things which have been seen as not fully working in the film (including about its ‘logic’) also raise interesting topics to talk about and we expect discussion also to focus on issues and questions about gender, genres, identity, value, . . . 

Do you have any better ideas?

Upcoming Language & Communication Research Seminars

The Language and Communication Research Cluster are delighted to announce the upcoming speakers in our seminar series:

  • Tuesday 6th December 15.00-17.00: PhD students’ presentations, at C133

 

Semester 2 Seminars: all Thursdays 15.00-16.00

  • 26 January 2017: Federico Farini (University of Suffolk) on promoting migrant-background children’s inclusion and learning in three European countries
  • 9 February 2017: Robyn Carston (University College London) on Polysemous Words: Meaning and Pragmatics
  • 23 February 2017: James Kenworth (Middlesex University) about Behind Closed Doors: dramatizing hidden truths in real stories
  • 23 March 2017: Matt Hayler (University of Birmingham) on Ambient Literature: the move from print to screen

 

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For more information, or to be added to our events mailing list, please email Anna (a.charalambidou@mdx.ac.uk).

Futures for English Studies

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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!