Sunday, November 19, 2017

Codex 2017


The latest edition of Codex has been published. Are you interested in riots in South Shields or Turkish Gothic literature? If so, visit Codex for top work from our class of 2017 undergraduates at the School of Culture.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Language learners in fiction and popular culture

Dr Susan Mandala will be giving a talk in the Language Research Seminars series on Tuesday 14th November at 5pm in Reg Vardy 113. She will explore how forms of mass media and popular culture have long been of interest to analysts for what they potentially tell us about ourselves and frequent attention has been paid to representations of gender, race, class, ethnicity and power. An equally potent but lesser explored representation is that of language learners. How are English language learners portrayed in our popular dramas, sitcoms and soap operas and what makes these portraits significant? Ranging widely over programmes such as The Archers and The Big Bang Theory, this paper explores the representation of English language learners in these texts and investigates how they are ‘storied’ in some of our most popular dramas. Dr Mandala argues that these representations frequently construct language learners as ‘other’ and asks what challenges this may pose for practice, teaching training, and wider issues of cultural understanding.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Two new chapters from Geoff Nash


'Britain,' chapter 33 in Waïl Hassan, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Arab Novelistic Traditions, outlines the work of Arab British writers in the context of the volume’s examination of worldwide fiction in many languages by writers of Arab ethnicity.
'A fundamental aesthetic: Said Nursi’s re-writing of the Qur’an into the idiom of modernity' appears in Bridging the Divide: Essays on Language and Literature, and Islamic Studies – A Commemorative volume to mark the 60th birthday of Professor Abdur Raheem Kidwai (New Delhi: Viva books).  The piece discusses the Kurdish-Turkish Muslim revivalist Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s project of re-writing Islam into a modern idiom.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Reflecting on 150 years since the abolition of public execution




PhD student Patrick Low is organizing a one-day conference to mark 150 years since the end of public execution. It takes place on June 6th 2018 at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle. The event will encourage interdisciplinary insights as well as welcoming scholars from any stage in their career. Subjects for papers may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • The legislative build up to the 1868 Act
  • The effect of the 1868 Act and its aftermath
  • The broader changing nature of punishment
  • Media representations of executions
  • Individual cases and crimes
  • The role of the execution crowd
  • The wider impact and awareness of public executions
  • Capital Punishment in the arts – including visual, design, performance, media, music and literary genres
  • The science of punishment
  • Global and provincial perspectives on capital punishment 

The website has more details, including a call for papers.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Kazuo Ishiguro

The award of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2017 to Kazuo Ishiguro, prompted Tencent - China's largest social media site - to contact Dr Barry Lewis, who has published widely on the Anglo-Japanese novelist. Read the interview here.

Kazuo Ishiguro

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Re-reading Spare Rib


Professor Angela Smith has edited a collection of essays about Spare Rib, one of the most iconic symbols of Second Wave Feminism, whose influence has far out-lived the span of its publication (1972-1993).  Re-Reading Spare Rib (Palgrave Macmillan 2017) examines various aspects of the magazine - based on the digitised publication by the British Library in 2015 - in order to explore the ways in which it has influenced society in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as well as the lives of individual readers. By analysing several articles from a modern, post-feminist perspective, and using cross-generational interviews of Spare Rib readers and reflective accounts of reading the publication, the significance and endurance of the publication is demonstrated. Written by academics, experienced researchers and independent scholars alike, the inter-disciplinary nature of the text results in a multi-dimensional reading of Spare Rib suitable for both an academic and general readership interested in cultural and media studies.

In addition to Angela, two other members of the School of Culture have contributed chapters: Dr Kath Kerr-Koch, and PhD student Maria Fotiadou. Other Sunderland contributions come from Professor Catherine Donovan, Professor Donna Chambers, Professor Bridget Cooper, Dr Sheila QuaidDr Rob Worrall, Dr Paul-Alan Armstrong, Trish Bryans, and Helen Fraser.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Gun control and the Second Amendment

Dr Kevin Yuill (with Joe Street of Northumbria University) has edited a book entitled, The Second Amendment and Gun Control, Freedom, Fear, and the American Constitution (Routledge 2018). The collection of essays situates discussion about gun controls within contemporary debates about citizenship, culture, philosophy and foreign policy as well as in the more familiar terrain of politics and history. It features experts on the Constitution as well as chapters discussing the symbolic importance of Annie Oakley, the role of firearms in race, and filmic representations of armed Hispanic girl gangs. It asks about the morality of gun controls and of not imposing them. Published in the spirit of open debate about contentious subjects, it is finely balanced between those who favour more gun controls and those who oppose them. Dr Yuill’s chapter - 'From Virtuous Armed Citizen to "Cramped Little Risk-Fearing Man": The Meaning of Firearms in an Insecure Era' – argues that the two sides of the debate are simply alternative strategies to deal with existential insecurities. One side seeks a policy solution of removing all weapons while the other employs the individual strategy of packing a gun.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sunderland Literature Festival 2017


Once again, several members of the School of Culture will be taking part in the Sunderland Libraries Literature Festival (download the full programme here). These events feature our staff/students:

Colin Younger (Senior Lecturer): Expressive Writing as Therapy, City Library @ Museum & Winter Gardens, 10th October 3-4.30pm
This workshop will explore expressive writing approaches to support mental health well-being as part of Mental Health Day.

Dr Alison Younger (Senior Lecturer): Folklore and Fable in the North East, Houghton Library, 16th October 2-3pm
This session will explore the extraordinary folklore and fables of North East England.

Short Story Competition Launch, Waterstones, The Bridges, 16th October 5pm
In association with Waterstones, the University of Sunderland will launch a Short Story Competition.

Dr Geoff Nash (Senior Lecturer): The Gothic Terrorist: from Robespierre to Jihadi John City, Library @ Museum & Winter Gardens, 18th October 5-6.30pm
Gothic, terrorism, and the terrorist are rarely linked - why is this? Geoff Nash addresses the question by tracing a Gothic dimension to images of terror coming out of the political violence of the French Revolution, analysing the appearance of the anarchist terrorist in late nineteenth century fiction, and discerning in stories and journalism about contemporary terrorists and terrorist groups the hated/desired figure of the Gothic outsider.

Colin Younger (Senior Lecturer): The Hero’s Journey: How to Write a Best Seller, Washington Town Centre Library, 21st October 11-12.30pm
The Hero’s Journey is a concept at the heart of many stories and by following the structure you too will be able to write your own best seller.

Dr Sarah Dobbs (Senior Lecturer): Prosegression, City Library @ Museum & Winter Gardens, 28th October 1-3pm
This session explores and pushes the boundaries of prose fiction, giving all writers new and exciting structures to work from. After the session, feel free to submit work from the workshop for consideration for a new journal in prose fiction - Prosegression, which is coming soon. Peer reviewers include flash fiction experts David Gaffney, Tania Hersham and the world’s first professor in short fiction, Professor Ailsa Cox.

Spectral Visions Press Book Launch, Holmeside Coffee, Holmeside, 31st October 6pm
Spectral Visions Press is an innovative publishing house located at the University of Sunderland. It specialises in publishing outstanding works of creative writing, niche pieces, and writing concerned with, and inspired by, Gothic literature and Gothic studies. To include ‘Tyne And Wear’d’ and ‘A Bestiary of Monsters.’ Pay bar available.

Philippa Abbott (Doctoral student): The Struggle of the Female Victorian Underclass, City Library @ Museum & Winter Gardens, 1st November 5-6.30pm
‘The Angel in the House’ was the ideal to which many Victorian women were expected to aspire. However for those at the lowest end of the social scale, this ideal was unattainable as with no money they could not feed their family and had to go out to work. Mrs Sheppard (from William Harrison Ainsworth’s Jack Sheppard 1839) contradicts some of the assumptions made by Victorian society and highlights the struggles that women of the lower and underclasses battled with on a daily basis.

Steve Watts (Head of School of Culture): John Buchan, Richard Hannay and The 39 Steps, City Library@ Museum & Winter Gardens, 2nd November 10-11.30am
An exploration of the extraordinary life of John Buchan with an introduction to his most enduring character, the irrepressible Richard ‘Dick’ Hannay, acknowledged as the forerunner and inspiration for 007 James Bond through this classic novel.

Dr Peter Hayes (Senior Lecturer): Scott Joplin: The Triumph of the Tragedy of his Opera, City Library @ Museum & Winter Gardens, 3rd November 2-4pm
Scott Joplin is famous for his piano ragtime. However, Joplin also aspired to be an opera composer and wrote two operas, one of which, Treemonisha, still survives. Treemonisha folded after a single performance in New York, and its failure is said to have contributed to Joplin’s early death. A surprising connection between Sunderland and Scott Joplin will be revealed and explained in a combined lecture on Joplin’s life and performance of some of his works.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Resurrection Man

Heather Askwith
Heather Askwith is a new Creative Writing PhD student in the School of Culture, under the supervision of Dr Sarah Dobbs. She is writing a novel called Resurrection Man as part of her thesis, which seeks to explore fears around the body from the Victorian Era and the parallels between this and contemporary fears. The novel will be set in two time periods and seeks to evoke the style of these periods as an exploration of narratology. In parallel with the writing of the novel, Heather will research the connections between gothic Victorian writing, modern horror writing and self-reflexive styles. She is interested in the development of horror fiction in response to developments in science and medicine. Her thesis seeks to explore the presentation of fears surrounding the body both in Victorian Gothic literature, and in contemporary modern texts, also considering a feminist angle and the presentation of female bodies. 

Heather has been writing creatively for five years. Having completed her MA in Creative Writing at Northumbria University, she won the Northumbria Student and Alumni Award at this year’s Northern Writers’ Awards. Heather won for the opening to her young adult novel, The Death Clock, a horror story set within Jazz Age New York. As a result of her award, Heather was sent to meet with industry professionals in London and there met James Wills, agent from Watson, Little, who has since signed Heather as a client. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Sunderland graduate awarded prestigious research scholarship

Rosie Hordon-Clark (who has a BA and MA in English from the School of Culture) has been awarded a funded, 4-year PhD Scholarship from the School of English at Dublin City University, under the supervision of Dr Gearòid O'Flaherty. Rosie will explore the relationship between Angela Carter and feminism: to what extent can Angela Carter be identified as a feminist; what kind of a feminist was Carter; and what areas of her work are at odds with feminist thought? Her research will provide a chronological analysis of a selection of Carter's work, exploring the changes in feminist positions that Carter adopts in response to the ambiguities and complexities of Second-Wave feminism.



Monday, September 18, 2017

Not so clean eating

Professor Angela Smith has recently given a paper at the 3rd FoodKom International Conference, held in Ljubljana, Slovenia.  Angela considered the recent shift in food communication which has seen a rapid rise of the concept of 'clean eating' as an all-embracing notion of wellness. In the UK, the pioneers of clean eating have recently sought to distance themselves from this controversial area of cooking and lifestyle by rebranding themselves as purveyors of a more generic wellness agenda. Angela showed how the self-appointed clean-eating gurus who write the blogs and cookery books associated with the concept nevertheless seek to persuade us to exclude huge groups of food types and to 'get the glow'.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

History undergraduate wins prize for research


Leanne Smith receives her prize (Photo: Sunderland Echo)

Leanne Smith, who graduated this summer with a First Class degree in history has won the annual Sid Chaplin Memorial Prize for the best undergraduate dissertation on North East history. Her study, entitled The Struggle Over Female Labour In The Durham Coalfield, 1914-1918, examined how the Durham Mining Association (DMA) resisted pressure from colliery owners and the government to accept the introduction of female labour during the First World War. Leanne's research made use of the holdings of the university's North East England Mining Archive and Research Centre (NEEMARC) and her work will be published in the journal of the North East Labour History Society. You can read Leanne's interview in the Sunderland Echo here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Criminal corpses

PhD student Patrick Low has taken on the role of Online Exhibition Creator for the University of Leicester's Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse. This Wellcome Trust funded project explores the criminal corpse from the disciplines of archaeology, medical and criminal history, folklore, literature and philosophy, revealing the ways in which its power was harnessed, by whom, and to what ends in Britain between the late seventeenth and twentieth centuries. Patrick was approached by the project team after they had read his blog on execution in North East England: Last Dying Words. You can visit the website here.

                
                 William Heath (1829): Burke and Hare suffocating Mrs Docherty for sale to Dr Knox;
                 satirizing Wellington and Peel extinguishing the constitution for Catholic emancipation. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The linguistic landscape of North East England


Research on language attitudes and perceptual dialectology has shown that north-east English is one of the most widely recognized and positively evaluated varieties in Britain. There is also a rich tradition of dialect writing associated with the region, and a long history of both ‘folk’ and scholarly attention to local forms of language – for example, it is the only part of England to have a major corpus devoted to it – the Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English. However, one element is missing from the otherwise well-charted dialectological terrain. Dr Michael Pearce has addressed this gap in a chapter published in Perspectives on Northern Englishes (Mouton de Gruyter, 2017), which gives an account of localized forms in the ‘linguistic landscape’ (that is, the public display and representation of written language on road signs, advertisements, house names, vehicles, and so on). This first foray into an under-researched aspect of the region’s local linguistic ecology describes and contextualizes a corpus of signs compiled in 2014–15, showing how they draw extensively on a set of features which previous studies have revealed to be enregistered as part of north-east dialect. The implications of the findings are discussed and the – perhaps surprisingly – infrequent appearance of such forms in the linguistic landscape is addressed.
You can read more about Michael's research on the language of the region here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

PhD student gives paper at major international linguistics conference

PhD student Maria Fotiadou has recently given a paper at the 9th International Corpus Linguistics Conference (Birmingham University). Her paper explored the issue of competitiveness in the ‘graduate job market’ and the notion of ‘employability’, as presented by Universities in the UK through their career services webpages. It is part of a wider project that seeks to understand the role of careers services inside academia. With a combination of Critical Discourse Analysis methods and Corpus Linguistics tools, the analysis focuses on identifying, interpreting, explaining and evaluating (Baker and McEnery, 2015, pp. 2-3) the ‘reality’ presented by these services as students are expected to ‘invest’ their time at university in getting prepared for the transition from HE to the workplace.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

'How the hell did this get on tv?'

Professor Angela Smith has given a paper at the Ross Priory Broadcast Talk Seminar. The topic of her paper was nakedness in dating shows; in particular Channel 4’s Naked Attraction. This is a show that opens with the assertion that ‘Online dating has been a complete nightmare […] with the status symbols we wear getting in the way of finding our perfect mate.’  With full nudity, lingering close-ups and graphic descriptions, many viewers took to Twitter to express dismay that the show had made it to mainstream television, and led to the Guardian referring to it as symptomatic of the dystopian media landscape of 2016. Angela's paper will explore how the shock of graphic nudity is ameliorated by the linguistic strategies of positive politeness that all participants seem to collude with. Such amelioration would appear to be a defence against accusations of voyeuristic and pornographic content on mainstream television.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Great Writing Conference 2017

Dr Sarah Dobbs will be giving a paper at the 'Great Writing Conference 2017', to be held at Imperial College, London. She will be exploring three key areas within the filmic representation of Arrival (2016). One, how does the film's fictive space encourage the consideration of the viewers' own motivations in concrete, everyday reality? Two, how do some of the film’s key conceits (such as translating a language and the idea that language may construct identity; the decision to have a child with the knowledge that they will die from a terminal illness) invite our questions about our own perspectives and choices in various aspects of our lives? Finally, if we allow this supposition to stand, how can we be aware of the implications of the constructions of our own fictional narratives and the real-world consequences of these?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Transgender talk

PhD student Katie Ward was invited to Longbenton High School to give a talk on gender identity to top set year elevens. The talk explored gender identity and part of Katie's research on Membership Categorisation in Transgender Communities. The students took part in activities which got them to think about their own gender identity as well as the difficulties faced by trans people. Students and staff actively participated throughout and asked some interesting and challenging questions.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The sexualisation of fatherhood

In an article published in Social Semiotics, Professor Angela Smith explores recent developments in masculinity, focusing on the sexualisation of fatherhood in Anglophone media. As it becomes socially acceptable for men to engage with “hands-on” fatherhood roles that had previously been primarily associated with motherhood, the appeal lies not just in this shift in gendered performance, but the representation of this as an opportunity for men to reveal a desirable body image. Where previously the hands-on fatherhood role had been glossed as “nappy changing duties,” this more recent development focuses on men’s bodies and in particular the act of carrying a young child which affords the chance for biceps to be flexed in juxtaposition with the gentle act of holding a child. Colloquially, this has led to the emergence of the “DILF,” particularly on social media where sites are devoted to photos of such men.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Timing of menarche in girls adopted from China



Politics senior lecturer Dr Peter Hayes has co-written an article for the journal Child: Care, Health and Development. The authors show how girls adopted internationally from some states have been found to have high rates of early puberty, including early menarche. Explanations for the link between international adoption and early puberty include post-adoption catch-up growth triggering puberty, and under-recorded age.

Hayes, P. and Tan, T.X. (2016) Timing of menarche in girls adopted from China: a cohort study. Child: care, health and development. 42(6): 859-862.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Languages research seminar


Please come along to the next Languages Research Seminar for a talk by Dr. María Alonso Alonso, award winning fiction author, and postdoctoral fellow at the University of St Andrews. Her topic is 'Narco-culture and violence in Latin American literature'. Tuesday 7th March at 5pm in DG313.

Monday, February 27, 2017

New fiction by Sarah Dobbs


Creative writing lecturer Dr Sarah Dobbs has recently published three short stories. 'Burning the Ants' was commissioned for Unthank's collection The End, along with contributors Professor Ailsa Cox and AJ Ashworth, who also attended the Sunderland launch of the collection in the recent Sunderland Literature and Creative Writing Festival. All stories are phrased around images provided by London artist Nicholas Rushton, exploring narrative and emotional responses to the notion of 'the end'. Her other recent short fictions, 'The Imaginary Wife' and 'As Linda was Buying the Flowers' are featured in Unthank's unthology 8 and 9 respectively.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Pragmatic stylistics and dramatic dialogue


Dr Susan Mandala (Reader in Pragmatic Stylistics, TESOL) has published a chapter in Dialogue across Media, an edited collection published by John Benjamins (Mildorf and Thomas (eds.) 2017). In her chapter 'Pragmatic stylistics and dramatic dialogue', Susan views dramatic dialogue as a form of exchange that can be read on the page just as legitimately as it can be experienced on stage. Employing a pragmatic stylistic analysis linking the text on the page to her interpretation, she offers a re-reading of Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter. While for Burton (1980) Ben was 'the dominating and superior interactant,' and Gus 'the dominated and inferior one' (70), Susan argues that it is Gus who can be considered the dominating character and shows in the concluding discussion why this recalibration of power is significant for a wider understanding of the play.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Culture research seminar

New approaches to storytelling in the digital age is the subject of the next School of Culture research seminar. From poetry on Instagram to Twitter short stories, moving graphic novels on Vine and seeing who reads your guerrilla stories, social media offers new opportunities to get your prose, poetry and other work in front of new readers. This workshop from Iain Rowe (author of One of Us and the director of the creative writing strand of the Sunderland Literature and Creative Writing Festival) will explore the possibilities and get you creating.

10th February 12 noon, Priestman 115

http://www.iainrowan.com/#!

This is a free event open to all, but please email sarah.dobbs@sunderland.ac.uk to register interest.


Angela Smith's professorial lecture

Angela Smith has recently been promoted to Professor of Language and Culture within the Faculty of Education and Society. Her research interests are in gender, discriminatory practices, media discourses and language in popular culture.  The various contexts of her research range from the home front in the First World War to the pioneering broadcast career of Kate Adie. Angela is interested in the various forms of confrontational language that is found in broadcast media, from Radio 4's Today programme to Top Gear. In her professorial lecture, entitled 'War, Conflict and Sid the Seagull', Professor Smith will also mention Paddington Bear and how he actually links these seemingly distinct themes.  Recently, her research has expanded into a project with other members of the English team at Sunderland to explore the city's literary and cultural history, and this feeds into the City of Culture 2021 bid.  This talk will explore these issues in more detail and will identify the key themes that connect these diverse interests.

Thursday 23 February 2017 6.00pm
Prospect Building, Room 009

This event is free but must be booked. For further details and to register go here.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

School of Culture research seminars


Culture Research Seminar Series 
Faculty of Education and Society

The School of Culture is pleased to announce the new season of research seminars.


All sessions except otherwise stated will be in Reg Vardy 111


10th February 12 noon, Priestman 115: Iain Rowan (Sunderland University) New approaches to storytelling in the digital age


24th February 4pm: Dr. Kevin Yuill (Sunderland University) Rebels against the infinite: Attitudes to suicide in the fin-de-siecle USA


24th March 5-7pm, City Library @ Museum & Winter Gardens: Dr. Mary Talbot (author of The Red Virgin) and Dr. Laura O’Brien (Northumbria University) Revolutionary women: Imagining Louise Michel


7th April 4pm: Dr. Delphine Doucet (Sunderland University) Priestcraft, civil religion and toleration in the early modern period


12th May 4pm:
Dr. James Koranyi (Durham University) Fascist Divisions: a Romanian German "historians' dispute" at the end of the Cold War


9th June 4pm: Dr. David Fallon (Sunderland University) “Can you say I am an old man?”: Sentiment and the Mask of Ageing in Thomas Holcroft’s Duplicity (1781)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mike Pearce joins editorial board of English Today


Dr Mike Pearce has joined the Editorial Board of the prestigious Cambridge University Press journal English Today. The journal provides accessible cutting-edge reports on all aspects of the language, including style, usage, dictionaries, literary language, Plain English, the Internet and language teaching, in terms of British, American and the world’s many other Englishes. Now in its third decade, English Today remains unique in its scope and style.

Friday, January 20, 2017

New book about William Blake

Dr David Fallon's new book on William Blake has been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Blake, Myth, and Enlightenment: The Politics of Apotheosis provides compelling new readings of Blake’s poetry and art, including the first sustained account of his visionary paintings of Pitt and Nelson. It focuses on the recurrent motif of apotheosis, both as a figure of political authority to be demystified but also as an image of utopian possibility. It reevaluates Blake’s relationship to Enlightenment thought, myth, religion, and politics, from The French Revolution to Jerusalem and The Laocoön. The book combines careful attention to cultural and historical contexts with close readings of the texts and designs, providing an innovative account of Blake’s creative transformations of Enlightenment, classical, and Christian thought.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Gender in the Newgate Novels

A West View of Newgate by George Shepherd (1784-1862)

PhD student Philippa Abbott has had an article published in the journal Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies. In it, she explores the representation of female criminals in 'the Newgate Novels' - a genre of sensationalist fiction popular between the 1820s and 1840s. You can read the article here.

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