Tag: literature

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.

aci_ba-english.jpg

 

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?

New Partnership with Haringey Unchained

We are absolutely delighted to be the 2017-18 University partner of the Haringey Unchained. Haringey Unchained is a collective of students aiming to showcase the creative talent of Haringey Sixth Form Centre in Tottenham, London.

This collective publishes a volume of creative writing every year. Below is their 2017 collection, in collaboration with the University of Warwick.

har-e1499187201698.jpg

The collection is a great read and was launched on June 22nd, at  the final show of the Haringey Unchained and We Move Creative Arts Festival. Poetry readings were combined with dance performances inspired by the poems in the collection. Industry experts in the audience enjoyed the show as much as we did.

To find more about the work of Haringey Unchained check their website: https://haringeyunchained.wordpress.com/

We are really looking forward to working with students and staff at Haringey Sixth Form College. Our Middlesex students at BA English will work with and mentor Haringey students in editing volume 3 of Haringey Unchained.

All submissions welcome!

Have you missed any of our Language and Communication Research Seminars?

This year’s hugely successful series of Language and Communication Research Seminars is coming to an end.

We have uploaded some of our seminars on youtube, so that you can catch up on the ones you’ve missed or re-watch your favourite ones!

You can find Dr Matt Hayler (University of Birmingham) full talk on “Wandering Bodies – Ambient Literature and Thinking with Place”.

Check also Dr Federico Farini’s (University of Suffolk) talk about “SHARMED: promoting migrant-background children’s inclusion and learning in 3 European countries” given on 9th March 2017.

Finally, you can see the highlights from the “Images of Tradition“, a talk by Professor Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway).

More coming soon at MDX BA English youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9yz85YMykcx5jFHhq313pw

Last date to register for free teachers conference

illc_2016_speakers_mosaic

Our free conference for English teachers (mentioned in our previous post) is just under three weeks away. The last date to register is next Monday, 31st October.

This will be a really fun and useful event. Teachers always respond positively to the opportunity to step outside the classroom to exchange ideas,  to hear about current research, and to consider how to apply some of these ideas in class. Some of the sessions will focus on developing specific resources and activities for class.

This year, the conference takes place the day before the NATE (National Association for the Teaching of English) post-16 conference, New Directions in Post-16 English, which is also being hosted at Middlesex.

If you can spare two days, why not come to both? If you’re already coming to one, maybe you could take an extra day to attend the other event.

You can find out more and book for the Integrating English conference here:

Fourth Integrating English Conference for Teachers

and for New Directions in Post-16 English here:

New Directions in Post-16 English

There is also a blog for the Post-16 conference here:

Post-16 conference blog

Hope some more teachers out there can join us.

Contact me if you have any questions about this.

Thinking About English

ba-english-middlesex

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.

 

 

 

Marlowe, Shakespeare, Authors and Speech Recognition

marlowe_wee

The news that Marlowe is to be credited as a co-author for some of Shakespeare’s plays is big news, of course. It’s fascinating to think about how long debates have been going on about authorship of Shakespeare’s and other plays (e.g. Arden of Faversham, which is now being credited partly to Shakespeare). It seems we really do care about who produced the plays and not just about the plays themselves, even though there are, of course, lots of different views about the relative importance of texts, authors, contexts, readers, etc.

I’m also a bit amazed that linguistic evidence has been used to determine this, as there was a time when it seemed to be largely overlooked, despite what looked to me like some fairly clear evidence it provided, e.g. in the work of Jonathan Hope

Meanwhile, linguists are most excited about the news that an automated speech recognition system has achieved parity with human transcribers. I find this far more amazing. I remember John Wells explaining some of the difficulties which made it seem very unlikely that machines could ever come close to humans in this. It is amazing that they can now perform so well. Here’s Geoff Pullum commenting on it in response to the Language Log post:

geoffpullum_comment

I think my favourite speculation on who wrote Shakespeare’s plays was a story in 2000AD in which the plays were written by a time-travelling scholar from the future who travelled back in time to find out who wrote them, panicked when there was no sign of Shakespeare in Elizabethan England, and wrote them himself to make sure future generations wouldn’t miss out

 

 

 

 

Looking for inspiration on PhD topics?

If you are looking for inspiration for a PhD topic in English, here’s what our current PhD students are up to.

In a recent round table discussion, our current PhD students discussed with each other their doctoral projects. I was impressed both by the fascinating topics and novel approaches but also by the interesting questions our students asked each other.

Here are the topics of some of our current research candidates in language, linguistics and literature:

  • Kick the bucket1000-59719058_thumbnail-744x635

How can you teach English idioms to learners of English as a foreign language? Salim proposes that this should be done through the medium of learners’ home culture.

  • Do you say ‘napkin’ or ‘serviette’?

Narmina is looking at the factors that affect choices between synonyms.

  • This government is a parasite

Are some metaphors easier to understand than others? Ramona explores the (different) systems through which we process metaphors, employing Relevance Theory.

  • Neoliberalism promises meritocracy, upward social mobility, and individual freedoms. Surely it’s a good thing, then!

Tatjana explores the subversion and containment of neoliberal ideology in Black British fiction from the 80s to present day.

  • Do you change the way you speak when addressing ‘foreigners’?

Kyu looks at how speakers adjust their language when they understand their interlocutor as a member of the same or a different culture, employing approaches from pragmatics.

  • ‘If you spoil Star Wars for  me, I will Imperial March my way over to you.’

Do we employ semantic or pragmatics processes to understand ‘imperial march’ in this tweet? Benoit argues that Construction Grammar and Relevance Theory are in fact complementary perspectives and help us understand the semantics-pragmatic interface.

Can’t wait to see how all these projects evolve!