A-level English reform and English at University

In the 2018 University English meeting, Billy Clark and Andrea Macrae discussed academics’ perceptions and awareness of A-level English reform. The survey, funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme, was conducted  by the ‘Integrating English‘ dream team: Andrea, Billy, and Marcello Giovanelli. You can find a visualisation of their findings here.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, English subject leaders feel that they and their teaching staff are little informed about changes to A-levels. In fact, the overwhelming majority of English degrees in the UK are making no (55%) or minor (33%)  changes changes to the curriculum to support the transition of students who are taking the reformed A-Levels.

Professor Billy Clark at the Heads of Department & Subject Leaders’ Networking Day (13th April), University of Lancaster

On a more positive note, the Lang/Lit A-level is more positively viewed in Higher Education than in schools. 95% of university English subject leaders perceive it as useful in preparing students for English degree programmes. In fact, this is tallies with our own anecdotal evidence. A couple of days ago, at a local college visit, the Lang/Lit teacher was telling how the English Literature A-Level still carries much more prestige and is more popular with staff and pupils than the Lang/Lit A-Level.

And finally, a third of English degrees do not require any of the three English A-Levels (English Language, English Literature and English Lang/Lit). It looks like we are not that unique at Middlesex!

So what can we do in higher education to help the transition of our students from secondary to tertiary education?

Billy explained the importance of connecting with secondary teachers and students, awarding bodies, even our PGCE colleagues. He also showed the importance of helping first-year undergraduate students understand how university work differs from school-level work.

Jenny Stevens (Teacher of English and freelance writer and editor) presenting the post-16 perspective on English teaching and learning suggested that HE sector can help by:

  • Getting  involved in GCSE & A Level qualification;
  • Communicating with A-level student, parents and teachers via university website (podcasts/screencasts);
  • Cross sector collaborations on social media (e.g. linking with Centre for English & Media);
  • Joining the English Association Secondary Education Committee.

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.

ian 2

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:

aleks

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

***

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).

***

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).

***

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).

 

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.

jms

Language and Communication Research Seminars 2017-18 – Term 2

We are delighted to confirm the updated lineup for the second term of our 2017-18 Language and Communication Research Seminars at our Hendon Campus.

man having presentation at seminar

  • Wednesday, March 14, 12.00-14.00, Room CG48 (College Building): Aleksandra Vukotic (University of Belgrade): Intertextuality in Jeanette Winterson’s ‘The Gap of Time’. (new addition)

 

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.

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.