Storyfest starts today

Storyfest starts today! The schedule is here, and it is amazing – huge thanks to all involved. Have a browse and add any that interest you to your calendar – there is something here for everyone, all themed around Transformation.

You only need one Zoom link to get into them all:

Meeting ID: 935 5814 5807

Passcode: 422782

Today, Monday 15th March

The National Centre for Writing will be discussing how they share stories through web, podcast, social channels, print and marketing. Get inspired! This will be followed by lives workshop from a dynamic duo from MDX, Film maker David Cottis, followed by Playwright James Kenworth:

Playwright and MDX Narrative Lecturer James Kenworth (The Newham Plays) talks about his acclaimed adaptations of Animal Farm and Alice in Wonderland, arguing that these plays were not straightforward stage adaptations of literary classics, but radical re-imaginings of the original source material, and new plays in their own right. He explores the notion of literary adaptation as being similar to a DJ remix or re-edit; appropriating and changing other materials to create something new.

You can follow the festival on Twitter for all the latest news and updates @nlstoryfest.

More details on the Festival’s exciting line-up here.

BA English student wins Fairtrade Poetry Competition

We are thrilled that our third-year BA English student Marisa with her poem ‘Mirage of Eden‘ won this year’s Fairtrade Competition.

This year’s Fairtrade fortnight celebration supported the awareness of Climate Change. Students submitted poetry or spoken word pieces applying in some way the concept of: ‘Your vision of the world you want for farmers and workers worldwide, and the planet we share’.

All shortlisted poems, including Marisa’s winning entry can be found here:

The judges felt that Marisa’s piece ‘Mirage of Eden‘ was a clever read in that it told a Climate change story in a realistic fairy tale way. The title alone, captivated the judges to want to know more and felt lured in during the read:


To this vision I am bound:
the wasp buzz of a wave;
life and colour all around;
the blessings mother gave.
I am – choking – on dreams
of a rich, safe Eden –
a world serene at its seams,
uncut by cords of freedom.
Inhale fumes – exhale smoke –
a star – with wings
interrupts my hope –
and the – breath – it brings.
Fair trades and honest tongues,
sustainability will suffice.
Cemeteries of – uprooted lungs –
replaces paradise…
reward! – to those who stab-
at our womb –
and for those who tend, not grab,
the creatures, fruits, and bloom?
This rot – is in – my veins –
consume, consume, consume
we must – burn these chains
to kill – our barren doom.
Touch life beyond the computer,
rain and jungle dew,
a cleaner, greener future,
peace not just for the few.
My throat – burns
satisfaction slips my fingers
and to the past returns,
so only faith now lingers.
For libraries of celestial stories
Sun and Moon chase each other
Over unpolluted territories.
Tree nymphs will rediscover
their legs to dance and play
among skyscraper trees and towers.
Ink-free mermaids visit the bay
threading crowns of flowers,
never to know a plastic hell.
Fair costs and full cheeks
Nature, cast your spell!
Sung from mouths and beaks.
Imagine bellies full of berries,
imagine poverty, illness ended,
imagine trees alive with fairies,
imagine our earth, tended.

Marisa’s prizes includes interviews in print publications by Haringey Unchained, Russell Sage College in upstate New York and Barnet TV!

Congratulations also to second-year BA English student, Leonardo Simoes, whose poem ‘A Product of the Here and Now‘ was shortlisted. All the shortlisted poems from young people around the country have featured in the Fairtrade Foundation’s Youth Online Exhibition Hall:

Storyfest in Colour! 15-19 March 2021

A week today, the brilliant celebration of writing and creativity that is Storyfest begins! It is a huge pleasure to invite you to attend.

Too often, the hectic pace of our lives, pressures of deadlines, and the many challenges the pandemic has thrown up, can make us feel out of tune with our creative selves, and lose touch with how to nurture that creativity.

Festivals like Storyfest, free and organised by your fellow students, are here to remind you of the amazing diversity and power of stories and storytelling, across genre and across media. Creativity connects us, wakes us up, reminds us what matters and why.

This year’s festival is of course online – we have all had to adapt in different ways, and so the organising committee chose the theme of Transformation – all of the sessions will reflect this key theme. You can follow the festival on Twitter for all the latest news and updates @nlstoryfest.

In the meantime, here is a sneak preview!

You can treat yourself to workshops with leading filmmakers and playwrights, hear from award winning novelists including The Costa Book of the Year winner Monique Roffey, sharing craft secrets and exploring Magical Realism together with Leone Ross, who will be giving you a sneak peek of Faber’s lead Spring title, her novel One Sky Day.

Please visit and bookmark the festival site; North London Story Festival | Middlesex University

And you can already listen to one of the stories from one of our MA novelists, Brian Hicks. Check back for more inspiring content over the week. The Eventbrite links will be here too – I will share these on Friday.

The amazing lineup includes:

David Heinemann, film lecturer at MDX will be discussing his award-winning film Voices Apart. The documentary presents three Lithuanians who hear voices that set them apart. You can watch the trailer here:

Creativity is often a collective, communal activity. On Tuesday 16th of March, Thriller writer Lara Thompson will be appearing together with her editor Sarah Savitt from Virago Press  to talk about her exciting debut novel One Night, New York, a brilliant and immersive thriller, which won her the Virago/The Pool New Crime Writer Award

Judith Bryan’s Bernard and the Cloth Monkey was Selected by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, as Part of Penguin’s new series Black Britain. This series rediscovers and celebrates pioneering books depicting black Britain that remap the nation. On Wednesday 17th March, Judith will be in conversation with MDX novelist Ariel Kahn, discussing the theme of Transformation in their books.

On the 18th of March at 7.30, reserve your places for meeting with Monique Roffey, author of Costa Book of the year award-winning The Mermaid of Black Conch, discussing Magical realism together with the amazing Leone Ross, who will be giving you a sneak peek into her novel This One Sky Day a month before its publication.

There are many organisations which support and platform new writing. The National Centre for Writing will be discussing how they share stories through web, podcast, social channels, print and marketing.

This will be followed by a live workshop from a dynamic duo from MDX, Film maker David Cottis and Playwright James Kenworth.

In addition to the live events each evening, there will be brilliant bonus content on the website, with carefully curated interviews, including:

Nalini Singh is a paranormal romance writer. The discussion touch on the topic why she’d chosen shapeshifters rather than vampires and the author’s journey from romance and thriller to paranormal romance writing.

 Nadine Dalton-West, short-listed for the British Fantasy Society award and was accepted into the WriteNow 2020 programme with Penguin. She has features in couple of anthologies including The Book of Witches. 

Writing is often a path to personal freedom, and a way to reflect on and shape the journeys that made us. Two brilliant refugee writers from Iran I’ve had the privilege of mentoring, with the support of exiled writers Ink and the Arts Council, have just had their short stories published.

Navid Hamzavi had his short stories banned in his native Iran. He and fellow Iranian writer and poet Sana Nasari talk about the pleasures and pitfalls of writing and translating their work across language and culture.

Third Middlesex Roundtable on Signs, Language and Communication: 9 and 10 February 2021

The Middlesex Roundtable on Signs, Language and Communication is an annual workshop launched in January 2019 to encourage discussion between three paradigms of language and communication theory: the integrationism of Roy Harris and his followers, biosemiotics and philosophy of communication. These areas of thought and scholarship share assumptions regarding the fundamental role played by communicative interaction in the emergence of signification, meaning and relationality. They also share views of communication and language that are not limited to the understanding of language as a code-based domain.

The Roundtable is an initiative of Paul Cobley (Professor of Language and Media, Middlesex), Adrian Pablé (Associate Professor, Department of English, Hong Kong University) and Johan Siebers (Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Middlesex). It aims to create fruitful interactions between these approaches in an informal context of invited papers, “flipped” conference style (short talks, long conversations) and, each year, a focus on a different topic.

The first Roundtable in 2019 provided participants with the opportunity to discuss basic features of the three approaches. A special issue of Sign Systems Studies based on the papers presented there was published in June 2020.

The Second Roundtable on Signs, Language and Communication on the theme of intersubjectivity, took place in January 2020 on the campus of Middlesex University London.

Due to the ongoing Coronovirus pandemic, The Third Roundtable will take place virtually, with four sessions over two days. As participants are based in widely different time zones it may not be possible for everyone to attend each session. Therefore, sessions will be recorded and transcribed and made available to participants afterwards.

The focus of the Third Roundtable will be on ontologies of language and communication

Following the ‘ontological turn’ in anthropology, the linguists Pennycook and Makoni recently suggested that the Whorfian relativity hypothesis implies “a problematic universality of both humanity and the world” (2019: 72), i.e. the assumption that nature is one and cultures/languages are many might be ethnocentric. As the authors further argue, “it is not just world views but worlds that may in themselves vary”. Hence we might ask the question whether language (mass), languages (count) and human communication more generally possess different ontologies in different worlds, as recently suggested by Hauck and Heurich (2018), and whether there are any universal linguistic or communicational phenomena at all that human beings share, one such candidate possibly being the ‘sign’? But then which kind of sign? The Saussurean sign? The Peircean sign? The Harrisian (i.e. integrated) sign?

The third Middlesex Roundtable on Signs, Language and Communication invites scholars from different fields, in particular from biosemiotics, communication studies, anthropological linguistics, applied linguistics and integrationism, to meet and exchange their views on the ‘multiple ontologies’ thesis and discuss whether the notion of a unified theory of language and/or communication (of whatever kind) is Eurocentric and therefore based on what linguist Roy Harris has called the Language Myth (Harris 1981).


Talks will be limited to 10 minutes at the most and are intended to stimulate conversation, dialogue and discussion. If presenters or discussants would like to share a paper, handout or slides with the participants in advance, please send your document to Johan Siebers (, who will then distribute it before the Roundtable (there is no expectation or need for this, just a possibility).

9 February

Session 1: 10:00-12:00 GMT (11:00 CET; 18:00 Hong Kong; 05:00 Philadelphia; 03:00 Boulder; 02:00 West Coast)

Zoom link:

Kalevi Kull (University of Tartu): On Arbitrariness

Sarah Bro Trasmundi (University of Southern Denmark): The Troublemaker of Linguistic Meaning

Charlotte Conrad (Dubai): Towards an Integrationist Understanding of Communication

Nathaniel Barron (Birmingham University): Something’s missing with Amerindian Perspectivism: Ernst Bloch and the question of the One of the Many

Session 2: 15:00-17:00 GMT (16:00 CET; 23:00 Hong Kong; 10:00 Philadelphia; 08:00 Boulder; 06:00 West Coast)

Zoom link:

Elena Fell (Tomsk Polytechnic Research University): Confusing Monologues with Dialogical Engagement as a Cross-Cultural Communication Problem between Russians and Westerners

Bob Craig (University of Colorado, Boulder): What is an Ontology?

Per Linell (Gothenburg University): Epistemologies, Not Ontologies

Adrian Pablé (Hong Kong University): The Ontology of the Linguistic Sign

10 February

Session 3: 10:00-12:00 GMT (11:00 CET; 18:00 Hong Kong; 05:00 Philadelphia; 03:00 Boulder; 02:00 West Coast)

Zoom link:

Chris Barnham (Chris Barnham Research and Strategy Ltd.): The Ontology of the Peircean Sign: Is it a Synthetic Identity?   

Sinead Kwok (Hong Kong University): Is Translation a Universal? A discussion between a Hermeneutician, a Semiotician and an Integrationist

Joana Bicacro (Lusófona University Lisbon): (No Title)

Johan Siebers  (Middlesex University): Communication Ontology and Forms of Life

Session 4: 15:00-17:00 GMT (16:00 CET; 23:00 Hong Kong; 10:00 Philadelphia; 08:00 Boulder; 06:00 West Coast)

Zoom link:

Chris Hutton (Hong Kong University): McLuhan and Harris on Writing and Thought: Shades of Korzybski?

Peter Simonson (University of Colorado, Boulder): Peircean Speculative Rhetoric, Biosemiotics, and ‘the Ontological Turn’

Jan David Hauck/Guilherme Heurich (LSE, UCL ): Linguistic Natures: Towards an Ethnographic Theory of Language

Dorthe Duncker (Copenhagen University): What is There to Talk About? Language Ontologies in a Harrisean Perspective

Presenters and Discussants (as of 1 February)

  • Chris Barnham (Chris Barnham Research and Strategy Ltd.)
  • Nathaniel Barron (Birmingham University)
  • Mats Bergman (Helsinki University)
  • Joana Bicacro (Lusófona University Lisbon)
  • Sarah Bro Trasmundi (University of Southern Denmark)
  • Paul Cobley (Middlesex University)
  • Charlotte Conrad  (Dubai)
  • Stephen Cowley (University of Southern Denmark)
  • Bob Craig (University of Colorado, Boulder)
  • Dorthe Duncker (Copenhagen University)
  • Elena Fell (Tomsk Polytechnic Research University)
  • Federico Filauri (University of London)
  • José Gomes Pinto (Lusófona University Lisbon)
  • Jan David Hauck (London School  of Economics)
  • Guilherme Heurich (University College London)
  • Chris Hutton (Hong Kong University)
  • Artemis Ignatidou (University of London)
  • Sinfree Makoni (Penn State)
  • Kęstas Kirtiklis (Vilnius University)
  • Kalevi Kull (University of Tartu)
  • Sinead Kwok (Hong Kong University)
  • Per Linell (Gothenburg University)
  • Nigel Love (University of Cape Town)
  • Adrian Pablé (Hong Kong University)
  • Andrea Peloumbi (Middlesex University)
  • Lydia Sanchez (University of Barcelona)
  • Vic Seidler (Goldsmiths)
  • Johan Siebers  (Middlesex University)
  • Peter Simonson (University of Colorado, Boulder)
  • Sune Steffensen (University of Southern Denmark)
  • Lars Taxen (Linköping University)
  • Francesca Vidal (University of Landau)
  • Nicholas White (University of Portsmouth)