A good life: citizenship, skills and employability in English studies

‘How can English Studies overcome instrumentalism when it comes to the employability agenda? Is it possible to move beyond having to prove that our degrees are good value because they lead to good careers? Can we work together with students to consider how to live ‘good lives’ through education?’

On the 13th and 14th of April, I attended my first ever University English  Annual General Meeting & Heads of English networking event at the University of Lancaster. The two-day meeting had everything: innovative practices in learning, teaching and assessment of English at University level, discussion of hiring and promotion practices in the sector, surviving your first year as Head of Department, recent A Level reforms, and of course TEF and REF 2021.

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I found the panel on Employability really interesting, as it showcased some exciting and innovative ways of connecting students with the wider world.

Dr Fiona Douglas (Leeds) talked about the great (but also tricky to organise) module on Heritage & Dialect that takes students outside the classroom and into local museums and blends teaching, research and public engagement.

Dr Clare Egan (Lancaster) emphasised the importance of treating degrees not as tools to get a job but as central to developing skills for everything we are doing. She showed the importance of problem-solving learning, moving from ‘careers talks’ to ‘career-focused problem solving’, helping students develop critical reflection and self awareness, and discussed modules that fully integrate work in the field: local schools, arts organisations etc.

Yvonne  Battle-Felton, co-founder of  Stories at The Storey (true story open mic night) and North West Lit Salon and Creative Writing PhD spoke about the PhD creative writing student as entrepreneur.  

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Middlesex and Haringey Sixth Form College students shortlisting submissions for ‘Haringey Unchained’ magazine

We are already incorporating many of these ideas in the BA English at Middlesex. To name just a few examples:

  • First-year modules, such as Global Englishes, include problem-solving based learning. Students have to work in groups to design and carry out an experiment testing a hypothesis. Through their empirical projects, they develop high level research skills but, perhaps more crucially, really valuable interpersonal, negotiation, leadership and teamworking skills.
  • Our students develop employability skills by mentoring local 6th form college students in producing a literary magazine, Haringey Unchained.
  • Also, from 2018-19 we will extend students’ opportunities to volunteer at local schools, act as ambassadors for English and make a positive impact to their communities through the two third-year modules ‘Work Placement’ and ‘Teaching Englishes’.
  • Students get to work with acclaimed writers and practitioners of a range of genres. These include their own tutors but also guest speakers. For example this year, second year BA English students invited and interviewed Ian McGuire, author of the celebrated novel and soon-to-be BBC series The North Water.
  • From 2018, BA English students will be involved in the organisation of the 2019 North London Story Festival.

Sneak peak on this year’s ‘Haringey Unchained’ magazine

We are very happy to report that all content (poems, short fiction, illustrations, photographs etc.) that we have submitted this year has  been added to the Haringey Unchained blog.

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Please visit here: https://haringeyunchained.wordpress.com.

 

At the top of the page, there is the following link, which reflects the partnership between students and staff of English from Middlesex University and Haringey Sixth Form Centre:

https://haringeyunchained.wordpress.com/university-partnerships/

Submission on the blog are anonymised. Anything submitted by Middlesex is demarcated by a * in the title.

Over the next couple weeks, we’ll be updating the blog so that it is a premium account so the URL will eventually change to: www.haringeyunchained.com.

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Our next and final editorial session together will be Thursday 3rd May at 4:30 pm. We are going to have to be merciless about the items we cut in order to get it to fit 52 pages.  We will spent the time placing pieces along the flat plan together.

Really looking forward to seeing the finalised version of the print magazine!

Footage of conversation with Ian McGuire

Last month, Ian McGuire, author of the celebrated novel, The North Water, visited Middlesex to answer questions from BA English students. The event was sold out and a great success. If you missed it, or would like to watch it again, here’s the footage of the discussion.

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All English events at Middlesex this week

This is the busiest and most exciting week of the year in our English events calendar. We are hosting the final Language & Communication research seminar of this series, we are welcoming two Erasmus teaching visits in English, and Creative Writing & Journalism students are running this year’s Story Festival. Here’s a reminder of all events on campus this week. We hope you’ll join us in as many as you can:

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Tuesday, 13th March

  • 12.00-14.00 Metafiction in Postmodern American Literature and Popular Culture by Dr Aleksandra Vukotić (University of Belgrade), BG09B (Building 9)
  • 14.00-16.00: Trauma, Cultural Memory, and Identity in Sebastian Barry’s ‘A Long Long Way’ by Professor Ksenija Kondali (University of Sarajevo), C136 (College Building) – Open lecture

11.00-20.00 North London Story Festival (various rooms)

 

 

Wednesday, 14th March

12.00-14.00 Intertextuality in Jeanette Winterson’s ‘The Gap of Time’. By Dr Aleksandra Vukotić, CG48 (College Building)

16.00-17.30 The Embodied Nature of Narrative: Moving with purpose with others, and its disruption in autism. By Dr Jonathan Delafield-Butt (University of Strathclyde),  New room: BG02 (Building 9) Final Language & Communication Research Seminar for this year!

 

Thursday, 15th March

15.00 -17.00 Negotiating the Technological Sublime: DeLillo’s and Antonioni’s

Murder Mysteries. By Dr Aleksandra Vukotić, CG43 (College building) – Open lecture

 

ksenFriday, 16th  March

10.00-12.00 Whoever controls your eyeballs runs the world : A “Paranoid” Reading of Media. By Dr Aleksandra Vukotić, CG09 (College building)

15.00-17.00 Fictionalizing Transatlantic Slavery: A Comparative Study. By Professor Ksenija Kondali (University of Sarajevo), PAG02 (Portacabin)

 

All welcome!

For directions to Middlesex University Hendon campus, click here.

Week of events hosted by the Language & Communication Research cluster

The week commencing 12th March will be the busiest week yet for our cluster; we have the final Language & Communication research seminar for this term:

The Embodied Nature of Narrative: Moving with purpose with others, and its disruption in autism

Dr Jonathan Delafield-Butt, Reader in Child Development (University of Strathclyde)

Wednesday 14 March 2018, 16.00 – 17.30, Room BG02 (Building 9) – note room change

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We are welcoming two Erasmus visiting professors who will give a number of exciting seminars.

Dr Aleksandra Vukotic (Assistant Professor, University of Belgrade), Erasmus+ visiting professor will give three transdisciplinary interactive seminars and an Open Lecture in the domain of literary, media, cultural, and film studies:

1. Metafiction in Postmodern American Literature and Popular Culture: Tuesday, 13 March, 12.00-14.00 at room BG09B (Building 9)

2. Intertextuality in Jeanette Winterson’s ‘The Gap of Time’: Wednesday, March 14, 12.00-14.00, room CG48 (College Building)

3. Negotiating the Technological Sublime: DeLillo’s and Antonioni’s Murder Mysteries: Thursday 15th March, 15.00-17.00, room CG43 (College building)

4. Whoever controls your eyeballs runs the world : A “Paranoid” Reading of MediaFriday 16th March, 10.00-12.00 at room CG09 (College building).

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Professor Ksenijah Kondali (Assistant Professor, University of Sarajevo), Erasmus+ visiting professor will give a seminar entitled Fictionalizing Transatlantic Slavery: A Comparative StudyFriday March 16th, 15.00 – 17.00 at PAG02 (Portacabin).

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You are welcome to attend any or all seminars  – no prior knowledge needed.

And of course, in addition to all these, Creative Writing & Journalism students are organizing a whole-day North London Story Festival (March 13th).

 

“No one talks like that. Sorry”: video-recording of Jane Hodson’s presentation

A couple of weeks ago the Language and Communication Research cluster welcomed distinguished linguist and literary scholar Professor Jane Hodson (University of Sheffield) for a presentation on what people are doing when they discuss the representation of accents in film and television.

Here’s a one-minute teaser of Jane’s fascinating talk.

And here’s the entire presentation!

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The lighting is not fantastic. Sorry. But the presentation well worth watching.

Happy watching!

Dr Aleksandra Vukotić, University of Belgrade, coming to Middlesex for an Erasmus+ teaching visit: 12-16 March 2018

We are delighted to host Dr Aleksandra Vukotić, University of Belgrade (Faculty of Philology) for an Erasmus+ teaching visit between March 12th and 16th, 2018. She will give three transdisciplinary interactive seminars and an Open Lecture, in the domain of media, cultural, literary and film studies.

Metafiction in Postmodern American Literature and Popular Culture

Tuesday, 13 March, 12.00-14.00 at room BG09B (Building 9)

In this session, Aleksandra will explore the reasons why metafiction became immensely popular in the 2nd half of the 20th century, especially in the 60s in the U.S. Through numerous examples from the U.S. fiction and popular culture (from ‘Pulp Fiction’ to the latest season of ‘Twin Peaks’) she will discuss why we cannot dismiss metafiction as ‘a thing of the past’ and why metafictional strategies still have the capacity to inspire us to think critically about today’s world.

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Intertextuality in Jeanette Winterson’s ‘The Gap of Time’

Wednesday, March 14, 12.00-14.00, room CG48 (College Building)

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Whoever controls your eyeballs runs the world : A “Paranoid” Reading of Media

Friday 16th March, 10.00-12.00 at room CG09 (College building).

This seminar explores one of the most pressing issues of today’s world – the problem of ever-present violence in the media and terrorism as a new world narrative. It focuses on the feedback loop between media and violence, escalating in terrorist attacks (which would be ‘nothing without the media’ as Baudrillard explained), again as reflected in contemporary fiction and film. It also discusses the misuse and abuse of the power of media, inviting the audience to think about the possible ways out of this ‘vicious circle.’ The novelists and filmmakers who closely follow and explore media strategies in their works (only to subvert them) will surely be a fertile source of ideas and inspiration.

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Aleksandra will also give an Open Lecture on Thursday, 15th March, 15.00 -17.00, Room CG43 (College building):

Negotiating the Technological Sublime: DeLillo’s and Antonioni’s Murder Mysteries

Have we placed too much faith in reason and technology? Is technology our fantasy? As we rely more and more on technological advancements and innovations, do we move away from the factual reality towards fiction and illusion? Is our wish to explain away the mysteries of our time through science and technology ultimately a death wish? Or, as a character notes in DeLillo’s Zero K, Does technology have a death wish?

Michelangelo Antonioni, one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century, and Don DeLillo, one of the greatest contemporary American novelists, have repeatedly adressesed these questions in their works, examining what happens with the human need for the marvellous and the sublime in the world of technology which promises revelations of all mysteries. We will discuss this topic through examples from Antonioni’s cult film Blow-Up (1966) and DeLillo’s novels Libra (1988), Underworld (1997) and Falling Man (2007), focusing on the characters’ fascination with dead bodies caught on film and photograph.

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Aleksandra Vukotić is Assistant Professor at the English Department of the University of Belgrade. She holds a PhD in American literature, and she is currently preparing a manuscript on history and fiction in the novels of Don DeLillo. Aleksandra is also a freelance translator and member of the editorial board of the Belgrade BELLS Journal published by the University of Belgrade. Her interests include, among other, contemporary American literature, selected problems of literary theory, literary and visual studies.

You are welcome to attend any or all of Dr Vukotić’s seminars. No need to register.

For an outline of all Language & Communication events the week commencing March 12th 2018, please click here.