Tag: Middlesex University

“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 BG09A (Building 9), Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

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.

Visit to the British Library

Last week many of our first year BA English students and tutors had a great study visit at the wonderful British Library.

group pic

Firstly we wandered through the ‘Treasures of The British Library’ exhibition and our students had to find answers to the following questions:

  1. Which author from Humpshire has some teenage writings on display in the library?
  2. Who received a letter from Charles Darwin that’s on display in the library?
  3. Why might that letter have been difficult to receive and read?
  4. Which work on display in the library contains the line ‘I’m not half the man I used to be’?

As our amazing students were equally good; the group that submitted the best photo of themselves in the library were declared winners.

So, this is the winning entry:

British Library photo 011117_1

And these are the runners up:

British Library photo 011117_2   British Library photo 011117_3

 

We ended our visit in a magical way, at the enchantedly busy Harry Potter: A History of Magic’ exhibition.BL-Harry-Potter-624x351-roundel

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

 

 

 

 

Futures for English Studies

futuresforenglishstudies

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!

 

Welcome to London English

Welcome to London English

Welcome to London English. We have set up this new site as we prepare to welcome the first students on our brand new BA English programme at Middlesex University

We’ll be telling you more about our English programme here soon but the main thing we’ll be using this site for is to discuss examples and ideas we’ll be looking at in class or that connect with work in English in some way.

We’re really looking forward to meeting our new students next week and working on the new programme together.

We hope that we’ll soon have some pictures to share from the Welcome events next week. In the meantime, we’re sharing a picture of some members of staff in Brighton last year when we gave presentations at the Higher Education Academy’s Inspire conference .

If you have any questions or thoughts about the site, email Billy Clark at: b.clark@mdx.ac.uk