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.

lancaster

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.

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).

 

Street Art Tour

On February 13th a select group of first and second year BA English students braved the freezing cold, together with James Kenworth and myself for a tour of iconic and ever changing street art in Shoreditch.

We say everything: painted chewing gum, preserved Banksy satirical street art and newly painted graffiti; subtle and bold work; elaborate pieces and ‘anti-style’, old and new, expensive commercially commissioned murals and illegal vandalism.

All through the eyes of our tour guide, a local artist and illustrator who is closely connected and involved with the street art scene in London.

We even got a glimpse of some street artists that talked to us about their pieces!

This is just a small selection.

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.