Thursday, April 26, 2018

Post-Now: Synthetic futures in fiction

We all know that novels are more than just stories; they often tell us about our lives and ourselves. This talk by Guy Mankowski  will consider how writers have taken fiction to its limit by questioning how we live now and how we might live in the future. Guy’s novel How I Left The National Grid examined how, in postmodern culture, subculture and nostalgia offer people some room to shape the world they want to live in. From the future societies described in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go to the exotic technologies in JG Ballard’s Vermilion Sands, this session will also look at how literary fiction has imagined - and proposed - synthetic futures.

Dr Guy Mankowski is the author of four novels: Letters from Yelena (Legend Press) was awarded an Arts Council Literature grant, used in GCSE training material by Osiris in 2015, and adapted for the stage. How I Left The National Grid (Zer0 Books) was written as part of a PhD in Creative Writing and published in the UK, US and Canada. His fourth novel, An Honest Deceit (Urbane Publications) was awarded an Arts Council Literature grant, longlisted for The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize, and adapted for Audible.

Wednesday 9 May 2018
Reg Vardy 213, St Peters Campus, Sunderland
Free refreshments
Open to all

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Landscapes of evil

Dr Miguel Gomes (Languages) has published a chapter entitled 'Landscapes of Evil and the Narrative Pattern in Beowulf: The Anglo-Saxon Hero’s Journey through the Labyrinth'. Miguel uses the idea of labyrinth as a symbolic landscape to explain the structure of Beowulf. He argues that the poem presents an intricate design in which elements such as alliterative patterns, repetitions, variations, recurrent themes and other additions form a maze resembling the journey that the hero himself will have to undertake. To a certain extent, this structure resembles the curvilinear and rectilinear patterns of contemporary decorative art, as seen in the Lindisfarne Gospels or the Book of Kells. Miguel claims that the labyrinth, conceived as a metaphor, a physical and a mental representation, could well be a more comprehensive alternative to previous proposals for the analysis of the poem. He supports this assertion by analysing different passages that connect with the idea of labyrinth, creating a clear tension between linearity and circularity that contributes to the greatness of the poem. Perhaps the final purpose of a labyrinth is precisely not having a purpose. The joy, mystery and greatness of the journey itself - as for Beowulf-  should be the main attraction.

Gomes, M. 2018. 'Landscapes of Evil and the Narrative Pattern in Beowulf: The Anglo-Saxon Hero’s Journey through the Labyrinth'. In María José Esteve Ramos and José Ramón Prado-Pérez (eds) Textual Reception and Cultural Debate in Medieval English Studies. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

History undergraduate wins research bursary

Matthew Thomas, a third year history undergraduate, has received a bursary from the Society for the Study of Labour History, enabling him to visit Norfolk Record Office and collect important documents regarding the Burston School Strike, the longest strike in British history (1914-1939). The findings from this research will be revealed in Matthew's dissertation, a study of the role of school strikes in labour history. The main focus is on the Burston and Washington/Usworth strikes, which were vastly different in their execution, but had similar aims. Matthew's research in Norfolk unearthed some invaluable documents, including a copy of the school log book for the Burston and Shimpling School which describes the conduct of the school and gives details of the attendance rates and disciplinary action under Mrs. Higdon, the headmistress and wife of a Labour activist. This material helped Matthew to provide the necessary context for the dispute between the local authorities and the Labour-supporting headmistress, as well as the children who backed her and voted in favour of founding the alternative Burston Strike School. In addition, Norfolk Education Committee minutes, newspaper articles, pamphlets and booklets all provided fascinating accounts of the strike: its motivations, politics, and the ways in which these affected local government and industrial relations in general.
Handbill for the opening of the Burston Strike School, dated May 1917.
Original held at Norfolk Record Office. MC 31/38, 478x1.


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SURE: Research from the University of Sunderland