Friday, 18 July 2014

Vampires! Dr Hilary Weeks discusses Dracula and the literary Undead

We are building a new blog especially for videos and podcasts. Check Video Resources for English Literature at UGlos for short interviews and discussions about literature, culture, education, A level texts, and everything cultural and topical that we like to argue about. You can use the tab at the top of page for a quick link.

Here I discuss Dracula with Dr Dave Webster:

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Three great names in theatre


Regular readers of this blog know that we love Cheltenham's Everyman Theatre.  Designed by the Victorian architect Frank Matcham, the Everyman has been at the centre of the town's cultural life since 1891. Each autumn, we take our new students to the Everyman for a guided tour behind the scenes, and it remains a very special place for all students of English Literature at the University.

Last week, the Everyman hosted a performance of Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey, in a new production by the celebrated Hull Truck Theatre company. Now with a permanent base in Hull, this touring company lived on the road for many years, travelling around Britian's small theatres. Its founding director John Godber gave up teaching for a peripatetic life in theatre, writing and producing many of Hull Truck's plays as well as developing an extended repertoire of new, modern and classic plays.

The Everyman, Hull Truck, and Delaney: I wasn't going to miss the chance to experience three great names in British theatre. I was also curious to see how the play would be performed. The Everyman's proscenium arch was designed for a particular type of nineteenth-century theatrical experience. John Barnes notes that to modernist writers 'the proscenium appeared conservative and restrictive, encouraging a private response in each spectator rather than a shared audience experience.'* Yet far from separating the audience from the action, the arch invites us to step through the frame while reminding us that art is not life itself, but life represented, mediated, made more intense and universal.

Mark Babych's excellent new production explores the claustrophobic physical and mental spaces of Delaney's radical play.  A buckled street lamp projects just beyond the edge of the arch, and between scenes the actors (who are also singers and musicians) step forward, stand under the dismal low-watt light to sing or play the washboard or ukelele. A grim iron walkway marks the entrance to the unheated one-room flat where the action takes place, its lattice standing in for the gasworks that the characters (but not the audience) see when they look out of the window. Like the stage set, the songs refer to a world beyond, and drew collective recognition and response from the audience; the actor playing Helen kept breaking the fourth wall, addressing the audience directly.

The best dramatic productions use material and spatial conditions to project a world, and to project us, the audience, into that world. Only our imaginations lay down the limits.

*Reference: The Oxford Companion to Theatre and Performance, ed. Dennis Kennedy (Oxford: OUP 2010), p. 481.

Images: Shelagh Delaney, early 1960s. Hull Truck Theatre. Decorated safety curtain at Cheltenham's Everyman theatre.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Join us for our Open Day on Saturday 28 June

As summer gets underway, we look forward to welcoming you to our Open Day on Saturday 28 June. To find out more, and to book a place, click here. Even if you haven't booked, do please drop by.

To see how our courses look, and the modules we currently offer, look at the course map for English Literature, for English Literature and Creative Writing, for English Literature and History, and English Literature and Language. Scroll up to the tabs on the top of this page to see our Flickr album and our new video blog.

We hope to meet you tomorrow, rain or shine.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

English Literature students and staff celebrate the end of a great year

Lots of level 6 and 5 students, and some from level 4, joined us for an impromptu party after the final exam in May. We’ll all meet again at graduation, and next year for continuing students, of course; but it was great to unwind a little while celebrating the students’ achievements. If the sun had shone we’d have moved out into the Quad. In fact there was a terrific thunderstorm that afternoon, and it rocked the exam room according to the students taking the EX316 exam.

The party was also a chance for the four students who helped to edit James Shirley’s play The Young Admiral (1633-37) for a Degree Plus internship to get their printed and bound copies. Dr Rebecca Bailey created and supervised the project. You can read her report, and the students’ guest editorials, by scrolling down.

We plan to make this little party an annual event. It's a small way of thanking students for everything they do for the English Literature course. They can all be proud of what they achieved this year. Class of 2014: we salute you. 
I've uploaded a few pictures on our Flickr album. They were all taken during a fairly sedate moment at the beginning of the party, which is just as well. Students, do please send me any photos you may have; I promise to credit you.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Guest Editorial: Alex Edwards Reflects on Editing a Seventeenth-Century Playtext

During my third year at University I undertook a Degree Plus Internship, titled Editing a Renaissance Play. Throughout the course of the internship it was necessary to decipher and understand archaic meanings, spellings and punctuation, all of which required extensive attention to detail and long hours researching and reading. Despite the long hours and hard work I have found the internship to be wholly beneficial; it has allowed me to develop a number of skills, such as prioritisation, communication, problem solving and editorial and research skills. All of which will, undoubtedly, come in handy in the working world. These skills look great on your CV and also give you that added extra employability that every employer is looking for; I have also found it to be highly useful to have my work printed and bound in a booklet as an example of my capabilities for potential employers.
Aside from the skills developed throughout the internship it also has a great social aspect, an element that helped to relieve the workload considerably.

All of the interns were English Literature students, and so I think, it goes without saying that the internship and English Literature as a course work excellently hand in hand. However anyone with an interest in editing or 17th century literature would also benefit greatly.
I would urge any student who is considering undertaking an internship to just do it; don’t let the opportunity pass you by. The workload can seem daunting at times, but with the support of your Internship Leader and your colleagues it becomes both interesting and fun, with the added benefit of extra employability and developed skill-sets.​

Guest Editorial: Emma Younger Reflects on Editing a Renaissance Play

As a student, a venture into doing and completing a Degree Plus Internship was a very worthwhile one. It was easy to balance with my coursework, even amongst the pressures of third year and was both enjoyable and interesting. It gives you something extra to talk about on your CV and was a great experience to use to complete the employability award, which is never a harmful thing!
Although I discovered that the editing process was not for me, the whole experience itself was invaluable and enjoyable. I wish I had known about Degreeplus sooner, otherwise I would have most definitely completed more alongside my course.
Degreeplus internships are a great way to gain professional experience and I would recommend this to everyone.

Guest Editorial: Dane Abley on his Editing Internship

I really enjoyed the internship. It was great to have something that I wanted to do to distract from that which I had to do. Not that I allowed it to distract to the detriment of my other assignments and study.

Having previously helped a friend with the editing of his book, I was interested in the process, and the internship allowed me to learn the proper skills of editing, specifically for editing a play. This internship taught me the skills and gave me the confidence to know that I could do a better job, should my friend ask me to work on another of his books, and the confidence to seek out employment in editing.
I haven't yet started the job hunt, but when I do I'm sure the experience of the internship will make me stand out when applying for a position in editing and / or publishing. I'll let you know!