Shanties and Liverpool’s Cultural History: Gerry Smyth at the Mersey River Festival

Shanties and Liverpool’s Cultural History: Gerry Smyth at the Mersey River Festival

LJMU English's Professor Gerry Smyth participated in Liverpool’s celebrated Mersey River Festival,at the weekend, while also showcasing some of his research on one of the city’s lesser known musical traditions. Along with friends in local group the Rock Light Rollers, Gerry performed a concert of shanties (onboard work songs) associated with Liverpool during its nineteenth-century heyday as one of the great port cities of the world. The concert took place in the Albert Dock aboard a working tall ship called The Kaskelot, out of Bristol. Professor Smyth recently published an essay entitled ‘Shanty Singing and the Irish Atlantic: Identity and Hybridity in the Musical Imagination of Stan Hugill’ in The International Journal of Maritime History, 29.2 (2017), the full text of which may be accessed here.    ...
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ERASMUS in Naples: Teaching and Learning in Europe

ERASMUS in Naples: Teaching and Learning in Europe

Last week, I went to Naples for an ERASMUS staff exchange with our latest Italian partner, the University of Naples “L’Orientale.” Following a visit from Professor Anna Maria Cimitile, a colleague from Naples who gave an inspiring series of lectures and seminars here at LJMU last March, my stay concluded the first year of this fantastic partnership. Teaching in Naples for a week has been a highly enjoyable and invaluable experience, which I recommend to both staff and students in English and LJMU more widely. Naples is one of Italy’s most beautiful cities, a ‘porous’ city where, philosopher Walter Benjamin famously wrote, you can experience ‘a stretching of frontiers that mirrors the most radiant freedom of thought.’ Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean sea, it offers a vast array of historic and artistic milestones, from ancient archaeological sites to music and performing arts festivals, a thriving theatre scene, and the breathtaking landscape of the Amalfi Coast and the isles. It...
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Level 6 Students – You SHALL Go to the Ball!

Level 6 Students – You SHALL Go to the Ball!

Final year students - we know how it is just now. Deadlines looming (Dissertations on Friday - gaah!) and you can't remember the last time you enjoyed yourself, or wore anything other than a t-shirt stained with ink and tears.... But in a matter of weeks this'll all be over, and your thoughts will turn to getting out your glad rags and celebrating the end of all your hard work with your classmates and tutors. And what better place than the amazing Bluecoat, and what better way than with a three course meal, drinks, dancing and a photo booth to capture your inevitable elegance? Tickets to the Class of 2017's English Graduation Ball on Thursday 18th May are now on sale here for just £15 per person!  So raise your aching head from your books for a few moments to book yours and finish off your degree with an event you'll always remember! ...
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Clearing: Come and study English with us!

Clearing: Come and study English with us!

If you think LJMU's English course might be for you, we still have a limited number of places available. Remember, though, that the Clearing process is very competitive. Here's our advice for securing a place on our course for September 2016: Make sure you've checked all the information on our entry requirements and the course itself via the LJMU website (and that you meet those requirements). Have a look at LJMU's Essential Guide to Clearing, here, to make sure you understand the process. Stay calm and be positive: we're a friendly bunch here at LJMU English. We make Clearing offers to candidates who are open and articulate, committed to their studies, who love reading and discussing ideas, and are aware of what LJMU English, the university, and the city have to offer - be ready to convince us that this means you! We make sure that all Clearing applicants talk to an academic - a lecturer on the English programme - and they'll want...
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Liverpool For Literature Lovers

Liverpool For Literature Lovers

If you can manage to put down your books and get out of bed every now and again, there is a lot for a literature lover to do in this here Liverpool. Here are some good things: The Bluecoat: Located here, The Bluecoat is the city's hotspot for contemporary arts of all kinds. If you check out their events page and tick 'Literature' it will bring up a list of exciting literary happenings. Often they are free, or charge a very small fee. If you are a poetry fan like me then look out for their (usually free) poetry readings and groups. If you are in Liverpool this month then there is an exciting sounding Literary Walks event called Visiting Victorians on Sunday 24th July, 2-4pm. The event "evokes 19th century Liverpool and discovers how writers explored the struggles and triumphs of the town that Dickens called the ‘Copperfield stronghold'"- click the link to book tickets. The events are updated every few weeks so keep checking back to see what's on. There is...
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Student Discount

Student Discount

This is possibly the best thing about being a student (other than gaining a degree), as saving money is a student's prerogative. All you need is a bit of plastic, otherwise known as an LJMU card or NUS card, and you will be saving money here, there and everywhere! Getting your student discount in shops is fairly simple as you present your LJMU student card when you pay and you get 10% off your purchase, simple right? However, as you may notice on your new shiny LJMU card, there is no expiry date which means some shops may not accept it for student discount. Do not worry, we are here to help and have some inside information just for you... LJMU is a great university (as you know because you've chosen to go here) but you probably didn't know they are so great that they can get you a free NUS card, yes FREE! You apply for the card online...
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Eating Your Reading List

Eating Your Reading List

Everyone loves a bowl of plain pasta and a pot noodle butty, but a few decent meals here and there can make a huge difference to your life, let alone your ability to study. There’s tons of food advice for students around, but can you use the books on your reading list as a cooking aids? Yes: yes you can. How much fun would it be to eat along with your favourite characters? (The answer is: SO MUCH FUN!) Here’s what culinary delights some of your first year texts have to offer, along with helpful links to simple recipes from the World Wide Web: Wuthering Heights fans can treat themselves to ‘boiled milk or tea’ and a delicious ‘basin of milk porridge’. If you’re feeling very hungry try ‘a plateful of cakes’. Hopefully your accommodation doesn’t make you feel like you’re living on the set of A Taste of Honey, but some ‘biscuits and a flask of coffee’ may brighten your early...
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Your Massive Reading List

Your Massive Reading List

Have you read the book for this week? Have you? Have you read all of the books IN THE WORLD? Because you need to - immediately! You are an English student now and the most important thing about being an English student is making sure that you never do anything other than read, read, read, and read some more. If you haven’t read and made extensive notes on every text on your reading list before the first week of teaching then you have already failed your degree and might as well throw the lot of them in the Mersey right now. Or maybe that’s not true. Maybe everything will be alright. Maybe you don’t need to read anything at all. Just sit back, make a cuppa, and spend the next 72 hours watching Netflix. Or maybe, just maybe, we can find a healthy and reasonable balance here. Getting to grips with the amount of reading you are required to do at degree...
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The Independent Scene: Food and Drink pt.1

The Independent Scene: Food and Drink pt.1

As the only non-North West based member of T.E.A (Midlands, not Southern), I would like to share some of my new found Liverpool knowledge with all and sundry. Since I moved to God's city, despite there already being a wealth of trendy and delicious treats on offer, it seems a new place opens up every week. My only issue with this is that despite trying my best, I cannot afford to get everywhere to sample everything, though not for lack of trying. Integral to my and many others' enjoyment of all the delights Liverpool has to offer is 'Independent Liverpool', a mysterious group or entity hell bent on destroying our need to ever leave the city. 'Independent Liverpool' offer a card (£15 for one, £20 for two, buy one for your mother) that helps with your wallet, and a website http://independent-liverpool.co.uk/ that constantly updates you on how best to enjoy Liverpool without resorting to a Costa and a pre-packaged Sainsburys sandwich. Not only does...
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The Independent Scene: Food and Drink pt. 2

The Independent Scene: Food and Drink pt. 2

I am predominantly vegetarian although I am actually a pescatarian. So, I am writing part two of where is good to eat and drink from a slightly different perspective. Liverpool has so many great places to eat and drink it's hard to choose, thus I am breaking them down a little... My Favourites Breakfast/Brunch: My favourite has got to be Moose Coffee. Situated on Dale Street, it's not too far to walk but far enough from the John Foster building to work up a bit of an appetite: you'll need it as the portions aren't stingy. The New Jersey Moose is my personal fave. It is a plateful of amazing flavour-packed potato hash and oozing runny eggs. They do a wide range of breakfasts, sandwiches, pancakes and waffles. There are a lot of veggie options and you can add extras like smoked salmon and bacon. Be sure to get there with plenty of time to spare though, this place gets full very quick! Dinner/Lunch (depending where you're from):...
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Masters by Research with LJMU English

Masters by Research with LJMU English

LJMU English welcomes applications for our MRes programme for 2016-17. This is a year-long course that gives you the opportunity to realise a research project of your own devising, under guidance from an individual supervisor and alongside a lively community of postgraduate students within and beyond the English department. Come and develop your research skills with us! See the postgraduate pages on this site or for further information and application links see the University web page: https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/study/courses/postgraduates/english. Please note that the deadline for applications is Wednesday 20th July, 2016. We will consider applications after this date but places may not be available....
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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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English Class of 2016: We DID Go to the Ball!

English Class of 2016: We DID Go to the Ball!

On the (rather damp) evening of Thursday, 19th May 2016, an extraordinary thing happened. Final year students of LJMU English, having finally finished all of their assessments (and fully cognisant of a variety of critical approaches to the fairy tale form), DID go to the ball - the inaugural English Ball, held at Oh Me Oh My on Water Street in Liverpool. Single honours student James Heery, together with his trusty band of co-organisers and ticket-sellers, were determined that the end of their time as part of LJMU English would not go unmarked. Graduation tends to be a time for families, and the final year students decided that the end of assessment would be a much better time to celebrate with all their friends from the course. Funded by a combination of ticket sales and a donation from the English department, the event included welcome drinks, dinner, music, and even a chance (between showers) to visit the venue's roof garden with its incomparable...
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Hauntings: Vernon Lee Event at the Bluecoat

Hauntings: Vernon Lee Event at the Bluecoat

At Liverpool's Bluecoat gallery on Saturday, 21st March, LJMU English's Sondeep Kandola took part in 'Hauntings', an afternoon of performances and discussion inspired by the work of Vernon Lee, a pseudonym of the British writer Violet Paget (1856 – 1935). Lee was one of the most influential women writing in English in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries who wrote inventive and impassioned fiction, drama and essays on topics such as European identity, gender inequality, war and globalisation. A continental intellectual and pacifist, Lee both participated in, and anticipated, the wider shift from Victorian earnestness to Modernist play that shaped British literature at the turn of the twentieth century. In light of the turbulent friendships that she had with figures such as Henry James, Oscar Wilde, H. G. Wells and Virginia Woolf and the recent upsurge of interest in the culture of the fin de siècle and lesbian Modernist writing, the event (which featured readings and performances from her influential collection of ghost stories Hauntings(1890) by Nathan Jones and Maria Fusco)...
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Nora & Jim: Marginal Voices, Centre Stage at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre

Nora & Jim: Marginal Voices, Centre Stage at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre

We got another chance to see LJMU English's Gerry Smyth's play Nora & Jim at Liverpool's Unity Theatre on 31st March and 1st April 2016. The play premiered during the Liverpool Irish Festival in 2015, and is told from the point of view of James Joyce's partner, Nora Barnacle, when the lovers were apart in the autumn of 1909. By imagining Nora's responses to the letters Joyce wrote to her, it gives voice to a marginalised figure who was left legally vulnerable during their separation as an unmarried woman with two illegitimate children to Joyce. The play forms part of the wide-ranging project Marginal Irish Modernisms, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. You can visit their microsite here to find out more, and discover further resources on key figures of the movement. Nora & Jim is a cross-School collaboration for LJMU. Written by Gerry, it is directed by David Llewellyn (head of the LJMU Drama department) and features two former LJMU Drama students: Jade Thomson as...
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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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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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Sondeep Kandola at the Playhouse

Sondeep Kandola at the Playhouse

  The Haunting of Hill House, an adaptation of the 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson, is proving a critical and popular success at the Liverpool Playhouse: the Guardian review loved the play's 'unsettling suggestion we can only save ourselves – because we are all alone in the dark'. Jackson's novel is a student favourite on our third-year 'Vamps and Villians: Exploring Gothic Literature' module, and on 10th December 2015 LJMU English's Sonny Kandola gave a talk exploring that text in terms of the female Gothic, domestic trauma and neurosis. Ruminating on Jackson's own tortured life, she linked the breakdown of the central character, Eleanor, to the anxieties around women's social role exploded by Betty Friedan's 1963 sociological study The Feminine Mystique. Sonny traced the symbolism of the (Gothic) house in the American psyche back to work of Edgar Allen Poe, explaining how the house had been used to represent fears about political legitimacy in a comparatively young nation and anxieties about the dead hand of the past that the ghost in the...
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Congratulations LJMU English Graduates!

Congratulations LJMU English Graduates!

Monday wasn't the sunniest day, but the Graduation of our 'Class of 2015' was still a brilliant occasion. Congratulations to all the single- and joint-honours students who have studied with us over the last three (or so) years: we were delighted that so many of you came back to the John Foster building for a drink and a strawberry or two to celebrate. Please do keep in touch and let us know all the amazing things you get up to, either via individual tutors or via this website. As you can see, the gallery below is somewhat dominated by pictures of your tutors looking daft impressive in their robes. If you'd like to add some of your own pictures of the festivities to the LJMU English site (yourself looking daft, or daft, or just plain gorgeous in your robe, for instance), please just email them to Alice Ferrebe (High resolution, medium size, if possible!) with a sentence confirming your permission. We wish all our graduates...
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‘Libraries Gave us Power’

‘Libraries Gave us Power’

Policy Provocations 2012 poses the question – do we still need libraries? When I think about what libraries have meant to me, I find myself (as many do) in emotive territory. My earliest encounter with library membership involved visits to Widnes’s Kingsway Library on Saturday mornings as a child of about 5 or 6. My mum was a nurse working night shifts, so to give her some peace to sleep, my dad would take my older sister and me off to the local market for the weekly shop and then we would stop off at the library to choose our books. My sister, in her early teens, would often get albums of her favourite bands (an embarrassing amount of All About Eve I am sorry to tell) which she would then ‘tape’ on a double cassette deck (retro) noting with care the tracks on the new sleeve and making compilations. I joined the book club, gamely reviewing the classic The Owl...
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