Dedicated Followers of Fashion

Dedicated Followers of Fashion

As always, this year, all students enrolled on the level 6 module ‘Vamps and Villains: Exploring Gothic Fiction’ were asked to give a short interactive presentation. But one group in particular showed an admirable dedication to their studies in their session on the representation of desire in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray by commissioning t-shirts  emblazoned with selected bon mots from Wilde's writing. Module leader Sonny Kandola commented that 'students Tracey Hughes, Jade Swann, Annie Simpson and Amy Rees certainly gave an inventive and engaging presentation that kept our attention throughout and challenged us to rethink the representation of desire in the text'. Wilde would, of course, have had something to say about that typo, but the group assure us that the misspelling of ‘thief’ on one of the t-shirts was entirely the printer's error. And they're LJMU English students, so we trust them implicitly....
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Careers with English: The Reader Organisation II

Careers with English: The Reader Organisation II

'The Reader' is a national reading charity with a unique shared reading model that reaches across all ages, demographics and settings, and began in Liverpool in 1997. They use great literature as a tool for living which helps people better connect with themselves and others, enabling them to realise the changes they want to make. Christopher Lynn, a recent LJMU English Graduate, began as a volunteer for the organisation back in 2014, and has gone on to secure a permanent position. Here, Chris gives LJMU English students some inspiring advice as to how to make the most of your skills, and to get a career that'll really mean something to you: 'I discovered "The Reader" through a vacancy on the LJMU graduate website (sign up folks!). Alas, it was for a senior management position, but after reading about the work The Reader does, I just had to get involved. Luckily, The Reader has a number of voluntary projects, so I signed up, and was trained to deliver weekly poetry groups...
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LJMU Writers’ Workshop presents Robert MacFarlane at Tate Liverpool

LJMU Writers’ Workshop presents Robert MacFarlane at Tate Liverpool

We’re excited that the LJMU Writers’ Workshop, run by our colleagues in Creative Writing, has invited Robert Macfarlane to come and speak at Tate Liverpool on Thursday 16 June. Macfarlane is best known for three widely acclaimed and beautifully written books that he describes as a ‘loose trilogy of books about landscape and the human heart’: Mountains of the Mind (2003), The Wild Places (2007) and The Old Ways (2012). These books are all about the human need to encounter the wildness of nature – whether it is by climbing a mountain or shinning up a tree in a suburban park. Macfarlane sees these encounters with wildness as an antidote to what he calls, in The Wild Places, our ‘retreat from the real … a prising away of life from place, an abstraction of experience into different kinds of touchlessness’. His most recent book is Landmarks (2015), an exploration of how the words we use to describe the natural world can help to reconnect us with it, and which he describes as ‘a glossary of enchantment...
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Art for Lit’s Sake: Kathrin Shawcross wins T.E.A. Competition

Art for Lit’s Sake: Kathrin Shawcross wins T.E.A. Competition

Avid fans of LJMU English will know that The English Appendage (TEA), the department's merry and dauntingly efficient band of peer mentors, recently organised a competition asking our students to create an image encapsulating one of the texts we study on the programme. The entries we received, which included photographs, drawings and paintings, gloriously confirmed what we already knew - that our students are a creative bunch, and can think in pictures as well as in words. You can see the winning entries here. Kathrin Shawcross, who was awarded first prize, is a second year English and Media and Cultural Studies student. She often uses painting and drawing as a way of expressing and expanding her interests. Kathrin said, 'when I read a particularly interesting book at university or have a certain type of music stuck in my head I will usually end up creating a picture to reflect how much I have enjoyed them'. Kathrin's winning image was the product of a lengthy process, and began...
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Prescot Work Experience: Megan Bagnall

Prescot Work Experience: Megan Bagnall

The second year 'English Work Experience' module... well - even if you haven't taken it, you can guess what it does. Part of LJMU's commitment to preparing our graduates for the world of work, the module also aims, where possible, to involve students studying English in the research activities being carried out by staff in the department. Prescot, a town eight miles to the east of Liverpool, is coming out of some very difficult economic times with a cultural revival. The long-term efforts of a wide variety of residents, community and charity organisations, and members of Knowsley council are soon to be crowned with the construction in Prescot of a Jacobean theatre and education hub. LJMU English's Professor Elspeth Graham has played an important part in this exciting regeneration, and for many years has offered students on 'English Work Experience' the chance to take part in a range of community-based cultural projects. Megan Bagnall has recently completed the module, and here she reflects upon the...
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Prison Voices: LJMU English Students publish their year’s research online

Prison Voices: LJMU English Students publish their year’s research online

LJMU English's groundbreaking second year module 'Prison Voices: Crime, Conviction and Confession, c.1700-1900' examines the literature of crime and confession in both fictional and non-fictional texts across two centuries. The module's website, produced by its students, explores ways in which historical documents found in digital resources like the Old Bailey Online can be read in dialogue with novels, poems and memoirs. By reading literary and non-literary sources together, students investigate the relationships between social power and cultural authority. The module is led by Helen Rogers, who is currently designing a  new module, 'Digital Victorians: An Introduction to Digital Humanities', that first year English students will take next year. This year, Ben Chance is the first student on the module to publish his research blog. 'Art, Expression and the Condemned' explores the emotional significance of tattoos and love tokens for convicts awaiting deportation in the nineteenth century. You can read Ben's pioneering post here. It's a great example of the skills developed by the module: scholarly research communicated to...
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Careers with English: The Reader Organisation

Careers with English: The Reader Organisation

Studying English with us? Fancy a career that would allow you to carry on doing what you've been doing on your course, in a home-grown, innovative Liverpool organisation? Victoria Jordan is in her final year of an English degree at LJMU, and she is currently working as an intern at The Reader. Here, she describes what lead her to the role, and what it involves: "As you enter your final year of Uni, it starts to dawn on you that soon you will be fighting off all the other graduates for the career you really want. Internships are a great way of making you more desirable to a prospective employer, as well as allowing you to learn new skills to add to your CV.  I am currently halfway through my four month internship with The Reader Organisation and already feel more confident about entering the big, bad world! The Reader is a charity and social enterprise based in Calderstones Park, Liverpool, that promotes well-being...
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And the winners are…T.E.A. Competition

And the winners are…T.E.A. Competition

As we know you will remember, a little while ago those lovely folk at The English Appendage came up with a competition asking all LJMU English students to come up with a single image to capture a book, play or poem studied on an English module. After much deliberation, we're now very excited to announce our winners, and they are (drum roll.....): First Prize: Kathrin Shawcross, Wuthering Heights He's mean, she's moody, it doesn't end well.... You've all read this now, so this is not a spoiler. The judges loved the eerie glow of Kathrin's mixed media image. She wins a £50 Amazon voucher, but can only spend this on gothic texts. Probably.   Second Prize: Rich Albinger, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? If you're just finishing Level 4, you've got this to look forward to on your Literary and Cultural Theory module next year. If one can ever really be said to look forward to envisioning a post-apocalyptic future, that is... The judges loved Rich's...
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Nadine Muller: Why We Teach Social Media Skills

Nadine Muller: Why We Teach Social Media Skills

Ever since I took up my post at LJMU, I have been teaching an optional second-year module on social media and communication skills as part of the department's dedication to maximising its students employability. It's not the kind of module that students or parents expect to see as part of an English degree. Sure, they can see why we offer the opportunity to gain work experience in the USA, or why we have a module specifically for those who are considering going into teaching after their degree. But giving English students the chance to develop an ability to use social media platforms in a professional way has lots of benefits, and that our students recognise this is evident both in the steady increase in the number of those who choose the module each year, and in the impact the module has on their careers after their degree. So, what are those benefits? Why should English students - and their lecturers - spend any time at all thinking...
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New: Liverpool Queer Reading Group

New: Liverpool Queer Reading Group

 “As a theoretical perspective, ‘queer’ functions as a verb meaning to trouble, subvert, make strange or perverse – its very invocation, queer scholars routinely explain, ruptures, overturns, blurs and decentres. Queer is about refusal, resistance indeterminacy, and transgression…” - Laura Doan, Disturbing Practices The Liverpool Queer Reading Group is starting this week, and is intended as an interdisciplinary reading group for Liverpool's universities and beyond. The monthly meetings aim to create a space in which members can engage with different theories, theorists and intersections in the field of queer studies. We will meet monthly in the John Foster Building, Liverpool John Moores University. All are welcome to our first session on Thursday 10th March at 5pm, John Foster Room 1.33, in which we will be ‘Introducing Queer Theory’. No preparation is needed as we’ll be discussing (provided) extracts from Maggie Nelson’s book The Argonauts. Just come along, or get in touch if you're interesting in joining: Email: queertheoryliverpool@gmail.com Twitter: @queer_liverpool Blog: https://queerliverpool.wordpress.com/   ...
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Bella Adams’s Pre-Show Talk at Liverpool Playhouse: A Raisin in the Sun

Bella Adams’s Pre-Show Talk at Liverpool Playhouse: A Raisin in the Sun

On Thursday 3rd March, LJMU English's Bella Adams will be giving a pre-show talk on Lorraine Hansberry's ground-breaking 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun, which is on at the Liverpool Playhouse from 2nd-5th March. James Baldwin claimed of the play that, ‘Never before, in the entire history of theatre, has so much of the truth of black people’s lives been seen on the stage'. Bella's talk will explore the cultural and political context of the play, and you can get tickets to hear her speak here. Bella said, 'My talk will focus on Lorraine Hansberry’s varied political interests, the critical reception of the play, the Chicago Southside setting and housing segregation. This wasn't a play I knew well before I heard it was coming to the Playhouse, and reading and researching it has been fascinating. In fact, I'm thinking of adding it to the reading list for my Race in America module next year.' If you're studying that module, or fancy seeing a fascinating...
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‘A Friend in Rose’: LJMU Drama & English Student at Luminous Landscapes

‘A Friend in Rose’: LJMU Drama & English Student at Luminous Landscapes

You know when you're wandering around Liverpool's Festival Gardens in the dark, clutching the hand of your grumpy five-year-old? Perhaps you don't. But imagine if you were, and you suddenly recognised one of the amazing people involved in the Lantern Company's Luminous Landscapes event as one of your students! Here, Siofra McKeon-Carter, a final year Drama and English student, answers my star-struck questions after a really memorable event: How did you get involved with the Lantern Company? I got involved through their student placements as I had worked with one of their team before on NCS The Challenge. (By that way, that's also a fab organisation for students to work for over the summer, and you can find out about them here.) What did you do as part of Luminous Landscapes?  I was part of the team working the puppet Rose, aka the 'old lady, keeper of the lakes'. Rose may be elderly, but she's also around ten feet tall. How did you prepare for your performances?  We actually met Rose about two...
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Writing Working-Class Womens’ Lives: LJMU English Students Speaking at Oxford University on International Women’s Day

Writing Working-Class Womens’ Lives: LJMU English Students Speaking at Oxford University on International Women’s Day

Students on the Level 6 LJMU English module 'Writing Lives' have been invited to share their research on working-class women’s autobiography at the Gender, Women and Culture seminar at Oxford University on the 8th March 2016. Soraya Nas and Catriona Parkinson, two of the module's student researchers, will be talking about their author blogs. Helen Rogers, who designed and runs this innovative module, will explain how LJMU English students are contributing to a public history project to create a digital archive of working-class autobiography in Britain, from the 17th to the 21st century. She will also discuss some of our preliminary findings about working-class women’s life-writing, based on our research on memoirs from the Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies. Helen said 'We all feel particularly honoured that on International Women’s Day we will be involved in celebrating women’s lives, writing and history'. Soraya Nas will be talking about Elizabeth Rignall, born in Yorkshire in 1894. In her author blog, Soraya shows how Elizabeth’s memoir, All So Long Ago, ‘brings to light the...
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Liverpool 2016: City of … English Homework?

Liverpool 2016: City of … English Homework?

If you're an LJMU English student, it's likely that you've recently been offered a free trip to some sort of cultural happening in Liverpool to further inspire you in your studies. Level 4 students on 'World, Time and Text' went to see rapper Testament remixing William Blake's poetry back in November. Last month Level 5 'Shakespeare' students saw The Winter's Tale at the Liverpool Playhouse, and students on the Level 6 modules 'Vamps and Villains' and 'Our House' have also been to the Playhouse to see The Haunting of Hill House.  We're lucky to live in a place that gives us so many opportunities to extend the thinking we do and the discussions we have in class. So why not make it one of your New Year's resolutions to make the most of even more of the cultural opportunities our amazing city has to offer? We're not saying it'll guarantee better marks, but well... it can't hurt. And do remember that all LJMU students get amazing discounts with the University's...
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The Winter’s Tale: LJMU English Fieldtrip

The Winter’s Tale: LJMU English Fieldtrip

LJMU Level 5 Shakespeare student, Hugh Adam, writes about the 18th November production of The Winter's Tale. The Winter’s Tale Performed at the Liverpool Playhouse, the Northern Broadsides’ production of The Winter’s Tale captures all the vital emotional elements of the text (jealousy, betrayal, abandonment, acceptance, comedy, redemption), while adding a modern twist sure to please all theatre goers, not just Shakespeare enthusiasts. Beginning in Sicily, transposed from the time of its writing to New Year’s Eve 1999, The Winter’s Tale opens with the celebrations of old friends Leontes, the King of Sicily, and Polixenes, the King of Bohemia. In accordance with the play’s complexity of tone, the celebrations are bittersweet for Polixenes, who longs to return to Bohemia and his family. His eventual decision to remain in Sicily (convinced by Leontes’ wife, Hermione) gives the insecure Leontes grounds to suppose an affair between the two, leading the King of Sicily (and those around him) into a vicious, jealousy-fuelled turmoil. The first three acts...
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Teaching the British 1950s in China, 2015

Teaching the British 1950s in China, 2015

Each year, Shanghai University run an 'International Semester' in June, when students completing their first year of study have the chance to pick short courses across a range of disciplines that are designed and taught by academics from outside China. In June this year, I was lucky enough to be one of those 60 or so teachers myself, and offered a course based upon material both from my last book, Good, Brave Causes: Literature of the 1950s, and my experience on teaching one of LJMU English's first year modules, Literature in Context. I stayed on campus - which, as SU has just under 40,000 students, is like a town within the city, with canteens, sports facilities, and supermarkets, and dormitories sleeping four undergraduates to a room. My class consisted of 32 students studying a wide variety of subjects, from engineering to... well, English. Though all of the students had studied the English language since primary school, not all of them had practice in...
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Love’s Labours Lost: Live in Liverpool

Love’s Labours Lost: Live in Liverpool

On the 11th February 2015 a number of students attended a live streaming of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost in a Royal Shakespeare Company production coming to us in FACT Liverpool from Stratford-Upon-Avon. Set in an Edwardian country house, this was an excellent production of one of the lesser-known plays. The visit was arranged for Level 5 students taking the Shakespeare module but other students and postgraduates also came along. The play (and its comedy) really came to life although, sitting in a cinema, it was difficult to know whether or not to applaud along with the enthusiastic audience in Stratford! We did, however, have the advantage of taking in food and drink. Second-year student Andrew Stevens-Davies commented: ‘Having not attended a Shakespeare performance before, I did not know what to expect from a cinematic viewing of a live performance. That being said, my expectations were immediately surpassed. As an English student studying Shakespeare I quite often find myself getting frustrated with the...
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Level 4 Field Trip: Brontë Parsonage, 22 October 2014

Level 4 Field Trip: Brontë Parsonage, 22 October 2014

'The reader is shocked, disgusted, almost sickened by details of cruelty, inhumanity, and the most diabolical hate and vengeance, and anon come passages of powerful testimony to the supreme power of love—even over demons in the human form.' So ran the review of Ellis Bell's Wuthering Heights in Douglas Jerrold's Weekly Newspaper in 1848, and Emily Brontë, the novel's real author, clipped out that review and kept it in her desk until her death only months later.  On 22 October 2014 students and staff from our first-year core module Reading English were able to see that desk (and even the sofa on which she died) on a suitably wind-swept visit to the Brontë Parsonage Museum, in Haworth, West Yorkshire. Here, Level 4 students Megan Bagnall and Jessica Blain describe their trip: The Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth: arguably the capitol of Brontë country in West Yorkshire. After travelling by coach, rather than horse and carriage, we arrived at our destination for an afternoon of education, enlightenment...
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